World-class brews produced in Morganton, North Carolina.
By Hope S. Philbrick
If you need only one reason to visit Morganton, North Carolina, this should do the trick: Fonta Flora Brewery.
Fonta Flora Brewery has won an impressive roster of awards, has been widely featured in magazines, and is arguably the most creative brewery around. Its lineup of beers, which changes often, is so good—recent options like Brackish Oyster Stout, Beets Rhymes local beet saison, Supper Table local sweet potato amber ale, and Land Trust smoked apple saison tasted even better than their names intrigued. Locals who used to dabble in homebrew gave up all their equipment: Why bother with DIY when a brewery this good is a short stroll away?
Fonta Flora doesn’t widely distribute and doesn’t need to since the few times a year when the owners decide to bottle a batch of something long lines of fans form outside the door for quick sell-outs. If lucky, you might sometimes find a few bottles at select shops in Charlotte, Asheville and Raleigh, N.C., but you’re guaranteed to find the best selection at the brewery in downtown Morganton.
When you visit the brewery bar you can order whatever is on tap. The roster changes often and the theory is a beer is poured until it’s gone. These creative brewers are generally more enthusiastic about trying some new recipe than re-making anything. But whatever they tap, odds are it’s well worth sipping.
Yes, it’s that good.
Fonta Flora’s trio of co-owners—brothers Mark and David Bennett and brewmaster Todd Boera—aim to create a unique North Carolina Appalachian style of beer. Toward that end, local grains and ingredients are used with an emphasis on seasonality.
With the purchase of the historic 49-acre Whippoorwill Dairy Farm in Burke County, Fonta Flora will become the first true farmhouse brewery in Western North Carolina. “It will give us more capacity,” said David Bennett.
The historic stone structures still standing on the site will be renovated, with an eye toward retaining historic elements. “The main barn will stay; it will be our brewing facility,” said Bennett. “The long stone building will be a barrel aging facility—when you walk in there you’ll see 100 feet of barrels on both sides, it’s the perfect atmosphere for that.”
The expansion is expected to be completed in 2017. “The county has been very supportive of us in this process,” said Bennett.
Farming the new property means Fonta Flora will be able to supply some of the ingredients it uses in its brews, such as figs, beets, carrots, and more. The brewery will continue to buy from local farmers and malt producers as well.
“Ideally we’ll be starting out with five times more production,” says Bennett. “We’ll potentially be increasing that over time.” The goal isn’t to grow too much, though: “We’re a small producer and plan to keep our local focus.”
When the new farm site is open, Fonta Flora may offer one tasty reason to visit Burke County, but with two must-see come-taste stops: The brewery bar downtown Morganton and the farm a short drive away, each with unique charms but both with the promise of impressive beer.
Fonta Flora Brewery
317 N. Green St.
Morganton NC 28655
Odds of Encountering Children: Extremely low. It’s a brewery and bar. (Kids are permitted, however, except during certain special events.) When the farm is open, presumably any kids could run around outdoors while grownups hang out in the brewery and tasting room…TBD.
- Where To Stay: The Inn at Glen Alpine
- What More To Do: Winter Hiking
- Read more about Morganton, North Carolina
– Photos © HSP Media LLC
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.