Steel String Brewery is a small boutique brewery and taproom located in a rustic warehouse in downtown Carrboro, right next to Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s largest university town. I am on a leisurely tour of the Tarheel state visiting family and friends, and my beer review itinerary has been spontaneous so far – we visited Steel String on my brother’s recommendation. I was glad we did! This is the kind of place I would expect to find in Nashville – I felt right at home.
We got there on a weekday around 4:30 pm and it was quiet, but had begun to fill up by the time we left an hour later. The hand-made guitar-shaped paddle my flight was served on suits this brewery’s roots and folk-art theme well. Steel String had five of their own ales on tap and guest taps featuring beers from Olde Hickory, another local brewery. I tried the house beers:
Country Pie Key Lime Sour Ale 5.5 ABV (6)
Sue Black Coffee Saison 5.7 ABV (8)
Exile on Weaver St. Native Hefeweizen 5 ABV (6)
Big Mon IPA 6.3 ABV (8)
Tenderness Honeysuckle Saison 6.3 ABV (8)
(phirx ratings) are on a scale of 1-10.
Overall, Steel String’s beers made a strong showing, and the pours on the flight are generous: 5 or 6 oz. each. The Country Pie Key Lime Sour is an interesting experimental beer: lactobacillus was added to the wort and allowed to sit in a fermenter for three days before boiling and the yeast fermentation. The brewers also made graham cracker pie crusts from the spent grains and added those to the boil. I did not find this beer particularly tart or sour, although the graham flour came through, and the finish was slightly bitter.
“Sue” Black Coffee Saison (do they know Nashville’s Yazoo brews a smoked Porter named Sue?) has a strong coffee nose, with a unique blend of fruity saison and smoke flavors. This delicious ale has many similarities to a Porter but is lighter in body. The hefeweizen is brewed with a yeast harvested from a South Carolina peach. It was light in body with a creamy mouthfeel and slight bubblegum esters.
Big Mon IPA is an excellent example of the current American IPA style, with a good balance between hop bitterness and flavor and a strong citrus nose. It is similar to Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo. My favorite beer of the flight was the Honeysuckle Saison, which is brewed with oats, wheat, rye, barley, local honey, and local honeysuckle. The bready nose introduces a summery, refreshing ale that goes down so easy with a hint of lemon and no bitterness. Fabulous!