A relative newcomer to the Triangle craft beer market, Fullsteam brewery strives to “celebrate the cultural and agricultural heritage of the South.”

Opened in August 2010, the Durham brewery is a place for everyone. A game room features table tennis and a host of other electronic games. A spacious open tavern offers a stage for live music, along with ample seating and a view of all the brewing equipment. The bar itself is a bit more intimate, as is the outdoor beer garden.

“This is a come as you are kind of place,” said Chief Executive Optimist Sean Wilson, who got involved in the craft beer world when he led the Pop the Cap initiative to raise restrictions on alcohol content for North Carolina breweries. “We’re family and dog friendly.”

Snacks from chips to local cheese plates are available at the bar, and patrons are even welcome to bring their own food if they desire heartier fare. Conveniently, food trucks are typically found just outside the door.

Year-round brews include traditional styles like lager and cream ale, but an interesting change of course is found in the Carver Sweet Potato selection, drawing subtle flavors from one of the South’s major crops.

The Apothecary series brings “a little more wackiness,” Wilson says, with Hogwash Hickory Smoked (think bacon) porter, Summer Basil farmhouse ale (which should be out about the time this issue hits stands) and other occasional experimental brews.

Sweet potato, basil, bacon — not exactly common flavors for beer.

“Responses are all over the map, and frankly that’s awesome,” Wilson said. Standard beers like pale ale, IPA and porter don’t get as much feedback — both positive and negative — as those that break the mold.

With all the offbeat ingredients, and even rumors of considering a kudzu beer, Wilson makes one thing clear: “I don’t want to get contrived and kitschy. The goal is to make excellent beer first.”

726 Rigsbee Ave., Durham, fullsteam.ag

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