Cold Tasty Craft

To find a local business with a lot of personality, look no further than your closest craft brewery. Fortunately, the national craft beer movement has caught on strong in North Carolina, and a growing number of purveyors are choosing to settle in Western Wake. From classic brews to out-there experiments, they offer a pint to fit any palate.

Aviator Brewing Company

Aviation enthusiast Mark Doble had a little space left in his hangar at Triple W Airport after he built his kit plane, Mustang II. With a solid background in homebrewing, starting at age 16 (rest assured, he was in Holland then), he bought a few dairy tanks and used them to make some beer.

“The equipment I got I kind of had to weld together,” he said. “I never really expected it to go anywhere.” He was very wrong. By April 2010, his venture had garnered a bit of a following as Aviator Brewing Company, which moved to an independent facility in Fuquay-Varina with 10,000 square feet of space.

Several Aviator brews are produced year-round, like BlackMamba Oatmeal Stout, HogWild India Pale Ale and Mad Beach American Wheat, to name a few. Seasonal beers like OktoberBeast make their appearance for a few months each year. The Hangar Series consists of special or experimental beers, produced one time only, with a new selection typically released every few months.

Aviator doesn’t take the traditional “rules” of each beer style very seriously. “A brewery decides whether it wants to stay in style,” Doble said. “We could care less.”

For example, he says, “HotRod Red is too strong, too hoppy and too malty for the style.” Clearly, though, playing fast and loose with traditional stylings isn’t hindering Aviator, which recently more than doubled its fermentation capacity with the addition of 10 new vessels.

Aviator fans have three branded locations to enjoy all the brewery has to offer. A brief drive from the brewery is the Aviator Tap House bar, located in a 101-year-old train depot. Live music is a common feature, from jazz to heavy metal. Across the street is the Aviator Smokehouse restaurant, serving ribs, barbecue, burgers and lots of other meaty favorites, plus Aviator’s own root beer for the kids.

Tours of the brewery are offered Thursday through Saturday.

Admission is free with the purchase of a pint of any current Aviator selection offered on draft at the in-house tasting bar. If you’re not big on crowds, steer clear of Saturdays, which can attract up to 400 people. Thursdays range anywhere from three to 40, and Fridays are somewhere in between.

Aviator beers are available at area restaurants and bars, grocery stores, or direct from the brewery in bottles or kegs.

209 Technology Park Lane,  Fuquay-Varina,

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