Get ready to plan your journey to the beer-loving city of Durham, North Carolina, where lively atmospheres and world-renowned beers come together. With its ever-growing brewery scene, Durham offers the perfect blend of innovation, sustainability, and taste in every pint, definitely worth raising a toast to!
When it comes to making the best North Carolina beer, Durham’s breweries have certainly staked their claim to the title. From Blonde beer to Amber beer and Hazy IPA beer, the brewmakers in this city have been experimenting with flavors and ingredients, creating spellbinding ales that have won the hearts of beer lovers across the globe.
Durham, North Carolina, has become somewhat of a tourist destination in recent years with many colleges, beautiful nature reserves, sports stadiums, museums, and of course breweries, attracting folk from across the state.
Renowned as a hub of arts, innovation, and technology, Durham boasts the iconic Durham Performing Arts Center, the Nasher Museum of Art exhibiting global and contemporary arts, and the Duke University and its sublime Gothic Revival architecture.
Moving over to the beer culture, Durham (AKA Bull City) has seen a renaissance in recent years in the downtown area, resulting in an innovative craft beer scene that sets it apart as a ‘Beer City’ teeming with creativity and taste.
With annual festivals dedicated to the love of beer throughout the year, like the World Beer Festival and Drink Durham Beer Festival, it’s easy to see why people come here from far and wide just for a taste of refreshing ales as well as the picturesque landscape.
From downtown Durham to the city center and beyond, we’ll take you through the best breweries in Bull City and what makes each brewery unique.
Readers Favorite: Hi-Wire Brewing
Situated in the heart of Durham, this establishment is one of the go-to places for beer lovers, entertainment-seekers, and families. The brewery has a large communal outdoor space with dozens of picnic benches, many games to play, great food, and many beers to test, which equates to a fun-filled afternoon. Plus, the interior art murals and bottle shop make it a great location to pop in for a quick pint to see the art gallery and take a few beers home with you!
Starting your North Carolina craft beer journey, your first pit stop must be the Fullsteam Brewery. Integral to the Durham brewery scene, this pioneering business serves as a reflection of the Southern beer economy. Having a robust connection with Southern farmers and living by the ‘Plow to Pint’ mantra, Fullsteam sets the bar high in terms of sustainability and creativity in brewing.
The brewery’s commitment to using local ingredients shines through in their notable beers and experimental brews. From their First Frost Winter Lager, made with hand-harvested persimmons, to their Hogwash Hickory-Smoked Porter, featuring barley smoked on-site, Fullsteam Brewery pushes boundaries and challenges palates.
Their approachable yet distinct flavors have earned them a devoted following and numerous accolades within the craft beer community. Apart from their award-winning beer, the brewery hosts many events throughout the week to keep patrons coming back.
Beer recommendation: Paycheck Pilsner
Continuing on the Durham beer adventure, a visit to Bull Durham Beer Company is a must.
Situated within the iconic Durham Bulls Athletic Park, it holds the prestigious title of being the first brewery in the country located inside a sports stadium. This innovative concept combines the passion for both baseball and beer, further elevating the city’s reputation as a craft beer destination.
Enjoy their delicious beers brewed on-site while taking in the thrilling ambiance of a minor league baseball stadium. With a focus on traditional beer flavors, their offerings range from classic IPAs to smooth and malty lagers.
Whether you’re a baseball fan or not, the experience of sipping a freshly brewed pint while watching a game is nothing short of exhilarating.
Beer recommendation: Bull Durham Beer
Ponysaurus Brewing is another gem in Durham’s crown of craft breweries. Known for its European-inspired brews, this brewery boasts a wide range of offerings, from traditional Belgian ales to experimental flavors.
Their attention to detail and dedication to quality shines through in every pint they pour. From their renowned Scottish Ale with a rich, malty character to their refreshing and crisp Kölsch, Ponysaurus Brewing has something to satisfy every beer lover’s palate.
Ponysaurus also boasts activities and entertainment for guests who like to enjoy a cold brew with games, trivia nights, music bingo, and pony run ( a thrilling run with the local community and a cold beer after) scheduled on their monthly event calendar.
Beer recommendation: Bull Durham Beer
Durty Bull Brewing Company has become a mainstay in Durham’s craft beer landscape and is known for its dedication to old-world brewing techniques. With a history dating back to 2016, this brewery has quickly made a name for itself and has even been ranked as one of the top breweries in the nation.
Durty Bull takes pride in its commitment to using traditional brewing methods, allowing their unique and full-bodied flavors to shine through. From their barrel-aged sours to their wild ales, each sip is a testament to the artistry that goes into their brewing process.
Their taproom provides a cozy and inviting atmosphere, making it the perfect spot to gather with friends and enjoy their exceptional beers. For those seeking a relaxing place to unwind in the sun, their beer garden provides the ideal scenario.
Beer recommendation: Barrel-aged sour
Hi-Wire Brewing at Golden Belt is a must-visit destination for beer lovers seeking a balanced and diverse beer experience. Known for its wide range of seasonal offerings and indoor and outdoor locations with up to 20 unique beers on tap, Hi-Wire Brewery is the perfect setting to enjoy their carefully crafted brews.
Their taproom on Taylor St Durham, NC, is perfect for pet lovers and families with interactive games such as soccer pool tables, table tennis, foosball, and shuffleboard, and a huge patio for the furry animals to relax.
And if that’s not enough, this great brewery goes above and beyond with its 360° of vibrant indoor murals. The colorful artistic murals add plenty of color to the taproom and bring in crowds of street art lovers from around North Carolina to admire while they drink beer.
Beer recommendation: Hi pitch Mosaic IPA
The Glass Jug Beer Lab takes a unique approach to brewing, emphasizing science and sterilization in their small-batch, experimental brews. Their commitment to innovation is evident in their scientific-themed beer names and options.
With a constantly rotating tap list and knowledgeable staff, The Glass Jug Beer Lab provides an educational and enjoyable experience for beer enthusiasts.
However, Glass Jug Beer Lab is more than just an ordinary brewpub. This Durham brewery gets involved with the local community, assists, and contributes to both STEM and community-minded projects and organizations. To top it off, guests are treated to live music, food trucks, festivals, beer garden jam sessions, yoga, game nights, and more while enjoying great beer.
Beer recommendation: Research Triangle Pilsner
Starpoint Brewing (in collaboration with Beer Study) has become a celebrated Durham establishment. Known for their small-batch beers, Starpoint Brewing has carved a niche for itself in the beer community.
Their dedication to creating hop-forward beers has resulted in fan favorites like “Hipster or Hobo,” a West Coast-style IPA bursting with citrus and pine flavors.
This brewery and bottle shop is also dog-friendly and has a soccer bar and arcade games for parents and kids to enjoy, making it a great place for families with dogs to hang out and taste their delicious beer.
Beer recommendation: Hipster or Hobo Pale Ale
Clouds Brewing is a German-inspired brewery that brings a taste of European-style beers and cuisine to Durham.
With an extensive selection on tap and an in-house food menu featuring dishes like nachos, chicken wings, pretzels, and grilled bratwurst, Clouds Brewing makes sure customers don’t go hungry during their visit.
They also host events of up to 250 people in their rustic-style warehouse, perfect for larger parties, and up to 40 guests in their private dining area fitted with TVs, a sound system, and a projector for showing slideshows and PowerPoints.
Whether you’re seeking a refreshing lager or a rich and malty stout, their pub-style atmosphere and friendly staff provide the perfect setting to enjoy their carefully crafted brews.
Beer recommendation: Blood Orange Hop J.A.M IPA
Bull City Burger and Brewery (BCBB) is not only a brewery but also a sustainable and community-driven establishment. As a certified B Corp, they adhere to strict brewing principles that prioritize environmental sustainability and community impact.
In addition to brewing exceptional craft beers, BCBB is also known for their pasture-raised beef burgers. The combination of their delicious brews and high-quality food makes for an unforgettable experience.
But that’s not all!
Visitors planning a trip to the brewery during March can get involved in the annual Bull City event “Golden Bulls” – a thrilling hunt for Golden Bulls using puzzles and riddles to find them to win FREE BULLS BURGERS FOR A YEAR. And if you’re arriving in April, grab some exotic meats during Exotic Meat Month.
Beer recommendation: Bryant Bridge Gateway Golden Ale
For those looking for something different from beer, Bull City Ciderworks offers a refreshing alternative with their handcrafted ciders. Located in the heart of Durham, this cozy cider bar provides a comfortable and inviting atmosphere to enjoy their unique and flavorful ciders.
It’s a spacious brewery with large indoor and outdoor spaces available for big crowds or private events and dozens of board games to play with friends and family.
Whether it’s summer, winter, or spring, these fruity ciders are the perfect refreshing beverage to fulfill any brewing tour!
Cider recommendation: Fruit-infused cider
If you love the great outdoors, photography, and botanical gardens, then we highly suggest visiting the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.
The gardens are special because they cover 55 acres of land and feature over 5,000 kinds of plants, offering beautiful scenery and a peaceful environment.
What makes the gardens more appealing for Insta-worthy photographs is the strikingly, beautiful orchestrated symphony of colorful flowers that changes its beauty with the seasons.
Which Durham brewery caters for private events?
Clouds Brewing offers event hosting for up to 250 people in their rustic-style warehouse. They also have a private dining area that can accommodate up to 40 guests and a cocktail bar area for up to 50.
Which brewery is Durham’s oldest brewpub?
The actual oldest brewery is believed to be Triangle Brewing Company, though it is no longer in operation. However, Bull City Burger and Brewery is one of the earliest brewpubs to establish a significant presence in the city’s craft beer scene.
Do breweries in Durham, NC, offer brewery tours?
Yes, many breweries in Durham offer brewery tours. For example, Fullsteam Brewery and Durty Bull Brewing Company offer behind-the-scenes tours that include a walk through the brewing process and tastings of their craft beers.
Related Local Breweries in NC
After exploring the top breweries in Durham, it’s worth broadening your horizons and checking out some of North Carolina’s best beers and other excellent beer cities in North Carolina. Our guides to the best breweries in Charlotte, the best breweries in High Point, and the best breweries in Concord provide an in-depth look at the state’s thriving beer scene and an impressive selection of taprooms and beer gardens to discover.
We hope this guide to the best Durham breweries has heightened your appetite and made you thirsty! If you tried some of their beers from your beer-tasting escapade, we’d love to hear it! Let us know in the comments below what was your favorite and why.