Brewery Travels #22: Road Trip #2 (Portsmouth, NH to Nashville TN)

My wife and I are excited about spending the next three months in Nashville, Tennessee! To get here from New Hampshire we took a meandering route down the East Coast. I visited 11 breweries as we spent nights in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Raleigh, and Myrtle Beach. As it often is with road trips, we wished we had more time at each spot, but are thankful for the opportunities we did have! Highlights included the Liberty Bell, the National Mall in D.C., and of course the beach in South Carolina. I wanted to include one brewery from each city, which was tough when it came to Philly and Raleigh. Because of this, I’ll include a total of 5 in this article, as I could not choose between my two favorites from our night in North Carolina.

  1. Evil Genius Brewing: Philadelphia, PA
  2. Right Proper Brewing: Washington D.C.
  3. Crank Arm Brewing: Raleigh, NC
  4. Brewery Bhavana: Raleigh, NC
  5. New South Brewing: Myrtle Beach, SC

Evil Genius

Located Northwest of downtown in a building that dates back to 1870, Evil Genius is a great place to grab a drink. The building had once served as a rail car repair shop, but had been abandoned for quite some time before beer started pouring. Exposed brick and beams provide a nice historic backdrop in the taproom. When you walk in there is a more relaxed sitting area, complete with a retro arcade game. A long bar takes up most of the space along one wall while wooden tables and booths provide seating. To the left of the bar is a large garage door that allows you to view part of the brewery. A side note: the TVs above the bar were playing The Office, one of my favorite shows.

Funky names and delicious beer. That’s the story of Evil Genius. Have you ever had Reese’s Puffs cereal? Well drinking a Purple Monkey Dishwasher is like that, but in liquid form. A huge peanut butter nose continues through into the taste. There’s enough chocolate to remind you it’s a stout too. While that was amazing, my favorite was #Adulting, a Guava IPA. And when I say guava, I mean a ton of guava. Everything about this beer was bursting with it. The sour beer of the day was Fat Guy in a Little Coat. This Berliner Weisse with cranberry was not overly tart, and the cranberry itself lays more dormant in the background. The other two I had (also good options) were Trick or Treat, a pumpkin stout, and the New England IPA Run by Fruiting.

Drinking a beer called Purple Monkey Dishwasher is reason enough to visit, but the vibes and brews at Evil Genius do mesh together well. There are several solid breweries in the Philadelphia area, but I definitely recommend these guys!

Right Proper

When you think of Washington D.C., craft beer usually is not what comes to mind. And while Right Proper was automatically in the article, as it was the only brewery I visited here, they totally deserve your attention. Less than 2 miles North of the National Mall, there is some good beer being made. A small patio area greets you outside, and when I walked in several people had some delicious-looking food. The star of this taproom is the huge chalkboard mural (pictured below) that takes up the wall opposite the bar. It depicts several of the well-known Washington D.C. buildings, along with a cornucopia of intriguing animals. They include a fox shooting lasers out of its eyes, pandas resting, and a squirrel wielding a flamethrower!

Right Proper is not a typical brewery, in that they only have one IPA on tap, but have 3 sours and 4 others that would fall under the farmhouse category. It’s an interesting lineup, and one that I enjoyed. Of the three I tried, Sal de Gose was the big winner. This Oaxacan-style Gose is extremely tart, but has some other interesting tasting notes. Oak smoked wheat provides an expected smokiness, while a smidgen of Jalapeno gives off a trace of heat on the back end. I spoiled myself and got a second sour, their Berliner Weisse called I Remember Jeep. Fifteen gallons of grape juice and 150 pounds of grape must are added to the brew, and it comes from a local vineyard! While that sounds intense, it’s a fairly balanced beer as far as fruited sours go. The final beer I had was Shawbecker Schwarzbier, which is one of the nuttiest I’ve had anywhere, both in terms of nose and taste.

They have not been around too long (only four years), but Right Proper seems to have a good thing going. It seemed a majority of people there were ordering food, not just beer. Hopheads may not be thrilled, but most should be pleased with the variety!

Crank Arm

Downtown Raleigh is a top-notch craft beer destination. And amongst the plethora of options sits Crank Arm. This brewery is bicycle-themed, which is obvious with all the bikes and gears hanging on the walls. One bike even has a fake skeleton riding it! I guess it being fake should be obvious. There is also an interactive bike sculpture made from a large number and variety of gears and chains. A crank can be turned, which causes the whole mechanism to move. Beer names continue the bike theme as you will see below. There was a decent crowd, many of whom appeared to be participating in trivia night. The back of the taproom opens up to the brewery itself, which is always fun to see.

Good solid beers all the way around. Velodrome is a Gose brewed with pineapple and OBX Sea Salt. The pineapple is most present starting in the middle of the drink and works towards the back. There’s an interesting pair of Saisons, each with a different additive. Zipaway is made with ginger and lemongrass, and was the better of the two in my opinion. Ginger was the strongest element, but there was balance from the lemongrass. Beetaway has, of course, beets in the recipe. A boozier option is Uphill Climb, a Belgian Style Blonde with a 7.8% ABV. While the alcohol is higher, it’s still fairly quaffable. I wasn’t a fan of their Hazy IPA Road Hazard. Just a little too floral for me.

“Ride Bikes. Drink Beer.” It’s clear they are serious about their mantra, as you can by a full biking uniform right there in the taproom. On warmer days, a fairly spacious outdoor area is another option.

Brewery Bhavana

Brewery Bhavana is a unique establishment. First, it feels upscale. There is marble instead of wood, higher end food, and just an overall more expensive feel. It also functions as a book store and flower shop. The taproom is broken into three sections, separated by thin curtains. The middle area as you walk in is home to bookshelves along multiple walls. One wall is for purchasing, while the other serves essentially as a ‘library’. To the left is the bar area, with 19 house beers on tap. There is also an extensive wine list at this downtown spot. I have not been to another brewery like it thus far during my travels.

Two of the five beers I tried were from their core beers. Grove is a delicious Double IPA, which is described as sunny and citrusy. There were also notes of clementine and peaches. The other was Till, a bright and tangy Farmhouse ale. This brew is exactly as described, a farmhouse with a shred of tang to it. My favorite was the Foeder-Aged Brett Saison, which was slightly sour with a barnyard funk. The true sour I had was also good. Magnifera Mango Sour was dry, slightly acidic, with bright mango. To round out this stop, I sampled the delectable Barrel-aged Raspberry Porter. Raspberry jumps out of the glass into your nose, and then melds in with chocolate as you drink it. With 19 on tap, I of course wish I could have sampled more, especially since the ones I did have were such high quality.

Downtown Raleigh sure has a treat in Brewery Bhavana. I enjoyed my visit, and it’s a place I would love returning to. The location is prime too, as the taproom is walking distance to many other places in the area.

New South

South Carolina is one of the several states in the southeastern part of the country that has had a limited craft beer scene due to constricting laws. They have loosened up a bit, which has allowed some, such as New South, to flourish. New South has been brewing for 20 years, but due to previous laws, had not had a taproom until 4 years ago. The taproom is not overly large or fancy, but it certainly gets the job done. It connects to the actual brewery, where there are some additional tables and games. One item of décor I dug was the hop-shaped light in one corner. I also enjoyed talking with some locals, who are thrilled to have a local brewery distributing right in the community.

‘Porter Palooza’ is an event New South hosts, and they had 5 porters on tap at one point. They were down to four when I visited, but the one I had was wonderful. PB & Jilly (yes, Jilly not Jelly) is a complex brew. Apparently, some people seem to taste the ‘jelly’ (boysenberry & blackberry) more prominently, while others mainly pick out the peanut butter. I was part of the former group. The other beer I enjoyed was the Dry-Hopped Lager. Melon was the major player in the front, but the finish had more citrus qualities. If you want a beer you can easily drink, but has some complexity, this is a great option. Under the Sea is a pineapple-infused IPA, but any pineapple notes were subtle. It did not do much to move me, but as I always say, not every beer will.

Myrtle Beach is a fun place to visit. From the beautiful beach to the towering Ferris Wheel, there is much to do. And now you can enjoy some locally brewed beer! Hopefully progress continues to be made on the craft beer front, and more breweries like this can call South Carolina home.

Conclusion

It was quite the road trip, but we enjoyed our time visiting some of the best cities the East Coast has to offer. I hope that I am able to return to these places someday to sample more of what these areas brew up!

Next Article

We will be living here in Nashville for three months, and I look forward to sharing my beer experiences from the Music City with you. However, there are many other cities that we will be visiting, one being Louisville, Kentucky. This will be where we kick off this section of the country!

Brewery Count

182 breweries across 104 cities in 22 states. These numbers are current as of 12/11/17. For an up-to-date count, follow my adventures on Twitter: @brewerytravels.

Joel Geier

Joel Geier

Hi all! My name is Joel, and I LOVE traveling to craft breweries. My goal is to visit as many as possible as I tag along with my travel nurse wife. Follow @brewerytravels on Twitter for updates! I'll be posting articles discussing my adventures here!
Joel Geier