let’s drink durham
It’s a tobacco town as much as Minneapolis is a milling one. Old warehouses, smokestacks, and reservoirs dot the petite skyline, any many display faded logos from cigarette companies. Durham deserves much credit not only for the preservation of this history but also for making this “Tobacco Row” area of town appealing. This isn’t gentrification – it’s a re-purposing of these areas for public use.
The city, as small as it is, has it’s own distinct neighborhoods. And there continues to be development today beyond what I witnessed during my previous brief visits.
One of those areas of immense growth is in dining and drinking. Within the last three years Durham has garnered the attention of several national hot lists for travelers, and more specifically foodies.
“Durham can seem like a sleepy backwater to those accustomed to larger cities. It is also home to a surprisingly vibrant food and restaurant scene, whose wholesome yet inventive offerings have attracted national praise.” The Chronicle
Between the “Triangle Cities” (and there are far more than three points in this chaotic polygon of North Carolina) there are infinite areas to visit. I love downtown Raleigh. Fearrington and its cows are irresistible. Chapel Hill has some killer independent businesses. But Durham? Durham has identity.
And it also has public hammocks. That doesn’t hurt.
Let’s talk beer. The city has about five breweries with more in the works. Its best known brewery is probably Fullsteam, but in the past I have enjoyed Triangle Brewing in cans, too, and Ponysaurus is working on its taproom as we speak.
Our first visit was a sleeper hit. Being from Minnesota where, in general, serious breweries do not make food (with a small handful of notable exceptions), I didn’t expect a burger place to produce much notable beer. But Bull City Burger and Brewery was a treat. Offering beer that is delectably pairable is a great way to entice drinkers to eat, or burger lovers to try craft beer. This is the case with Dr. Bartlett’s Ordinary Bitter. A British bitter is disarming and refreshing; there are very few ways to overthink a bitter.In this case, the perceptible but mild caramel-toffee finish adds a smoothness to the entire glass and creates a dimension not found in many ordinary bitters. Take a minute to enjoy the alley patio, tucked within a small vegetable garden.
I told you – pubic hammocks.
Our second stop was only a short walk away. We met fellow blogger Bryan Roth of This is Why I’m Drunk at Fullsteam Brewery on the north side of town. During our visit, the place went from quiet but buzzing to positively brimming with a tennis-shoes-clad running club. Fullsteam has clearly become a major hub for neighbors to gather over a pint. It felt extremely organic and we had a pleasant visit on the steamy patio. Look forward to more about Fullsteam, including one of the best beers of the trip, when I take you on the whirlwind that was the Beer Bloggers Conference in Asheville.