Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Brews Cruise Blog

Touring the Raleigh Craft Brewery Scene

a close up of a beverage in a glass cup on a table

20 Breweries Elevating the Raleigh Brewery Scene

Breweries are breathing new life into Wake County’s sleepy, little towns and their often less-attractive commercial areas. New paint, reconditioned wood, bright lights, beer gardens and amazing atmosphere full of laughter and live music are the norm. Great gathering spots for young and old!

Most beer aficionados will argue that their area has the BEST breweries, and we definitely feel that way in Wake County. While our bottle shops offer a great selection of local craft beer, there’s something special about seeing where it’s created, meeting the brewers, and hearing the story behind the brew. We all love the Clydesdales, but with us you can meet Jackie (aka Shotgun Betty) at Lonerider, and find out what the heck is a Ponysaurus!

Whether you live in the area and seldom leave your zip code, or are planning a visit to the City of Oaks, come get the full experience – beer and brewery. Raleigh Brews Cruise will get you there, complete with samples and a little education thrown in!

Here’s our alphabetical list of twenty Wake County breweries. We can’t call it a ‘Best’ list since we have over thirty in our area and we love them all! If it’s in Wake County, we’ll take you there.

#1 Aviator Brewing Company

aviator brewery tour

How crazy would it be to start a brewery in an airplane hangar?

When you visit the breweries, you’ll see that most began with the owner’s passion. That’s exactly what Mark Doble did with Aviator Brewing Company in 2008 in Fuquay-Varina.

Mark, an avid World War II fighter plane enthusiast, was just as passionate about the beer he was brewing as he was to planes. So, he slid the plane to one side of the hangar and moved in his boil kettle and mash tun.

Mark has now moved to a much larger space, and shares his passion for craft beer with us at Aviator Brewing Company hangar.


Brewery Tour Experience: Book Here

#2 Big Boss Brewing Company

big boss brewery tour

In 2006, Geoff Lamb, a UNC graduate, and Brad Wynn, formerly of Victory, Wild Goose and Native Brewing Company, joined forces to put Big Boss Brewing on the Raleigh map.

Big Boss’s intention is to brew real beer for real people. Focus on the beer enthusiast who wants a beer that always satisfies – a “house brand” so to speak. They hope you enjoy a Big Boss pint while you’re out and about on the town, and keep a few in your fridge chilling.


Brewery Tour Experience: Book Here

#3 Bombshell Brewing Company

bombshell brewing company - durham nc brewing

Holly Springs got a huge gem in 2013 when Bombshell Brewing Company opened. This is the first 100% women owned brewery in North Carolina. These women not only know their beer (all three being home brewers), but they also know their history of brewing – the creation of beer is credited to women!

So cheers to these ladies and their attention to the science of brewing to produce clean beer that is approachable and easy drinking.


Brewery Tour Experience: Book Here

#4 Bond Brothers Brewing

bond brothers brewery - brewery in durham nc

Bond Brothers Brewing is the collaboration of Whit Baker, and Jeremy and Jay Bond. Always competitive, their homemade brews were winning many of the competitions they entered. In 2015, Cary welcomed Bond Brothers Brewing and their fantastic taproom and patio space. The vibe in the taproom is inviting and casual, often with groups gathered inside and out.

Focusing on producing high-quality ales and sours, Bond Brother’s now produces a number of robust barrel sours, and always has fourteen unique beers on tap. From IPAs to Stouts, Berliner Weiss to Cream Ales, lovers of Saisons and Sours, you’ll find a unique taste you’ll love.


Brewery Tour Experience: Book Here

#5 Carolina Brewing Company

carolina beer company - beer brewery in durham nc

People say that brothers Greg and John Shuck and friend, Joe Zonin were way ahead of their time when they opened Carolina Brewing Company in 1995. This makes Carolina Brewing Company the oldest, active brewery in Wake County. Their award winning beers fill seven taps in their inviting new taproom, with a great patio to enjoy your beer on any Carolina day.


Brewery Tour Experience: Book Here

#6 Cloud Brewing

Cloud Brewing

Clouds began brewing their European lagers and ales in March 2016. With one owner being part German having studied brewing in Germany, their preferred style is obvious! At the brewery, nine taps anchor the wall with a prefect view into the production facility. Large picnic tables, corn hole, and games make Clouds Brewing a relaxed and enjoyable place to hang out.

Clouds has a larger vision to support the community through a very local distribution and their restaurants. They invite you to experience “The Down Pour” at their locations in Raleigh and Durham. This state of the art system allows you to pour your beer by the ounce, perfect for sampling from their ten taps.


Brewery Tour Experience: Book Here

#7 Compass Rose Brewery

compass rose brewery - breweries in durham nc

With inspirations from around the world, Compass Rose opened its doors in 2015. The brewers appreciate the local cultures while traveling, with a global view of brewing and appreciation for the contributions made to the brewing industry. Compass Rose respects input from friends and customers, and use those critiques in developing unique recipes that appeal to a wide variety of beer connoisseurs.

Compass Rose offers a rotating selection of their own craft beers along with guest taps from local breweries. Their amazing taproom adorned with reconditioned wood from the area, is often full of friends and families enjoying the great beer.


Brewery Tour Experience: Book Here

#8 Durty Bull Brewery Company

durty bull brewing - durham breweries

Durty Bull Brewing Company uses old-world brewing techniques, along with their own creativity and passion to bring you barrel-aged, sour, and other unconventional brews. They opened in 2016 and have brought a specialized niche of beer as well as their love of brewing to the wonderful residents of the Bull City and beyond.


Brewery Tour Experience: Book Here

#9 Fortnight Brewing Company

fortnight brewery - breweries in durham nc

What do you do when you’re from England and you cannot quite find the beer taste you’re looking for in North Carolina?

You brew your own! Cary’s first brewery hit it big when Fortnight Brewing opened its doors in 2014 with the goal of replicating the flavors remembered from visiting local British pubs. Stuart Arnold and the Fortnight crew reproduce the beer styles only found in their native England.

Brews topping the charts at Fortnight include English ale (Ordinary Bitter), Porter, ESB, Coffee Amber and X-Pat IPA. Fortnight also boasts the largest range of cask ale in North Carolina.


Brewery Tour Experience: Book Here

#10 Fullsteam Brewery

full steam brewery - brewery in durham nc

Fullsteam is a production brewery and tavern inspired by the food and farm traditions of the South. Located in Durham, North Carolina, their mission is to pioneer the art of Distinctly Southern Beer.

They are known as a plow-to-pint brewery, brewing traditional and experimental beers with a Southern sensibility, often incorporating local farmed goods, heirloom grains, and seasonal botanicals to guide their beer and their quest.

The more they purchase locally, the more they directly improve the quality of life of North Carolina farmers, foragers, and agricultural entrepreneurs. They hope to build a Southern Beer Economy one pint at a time.


Brewery Tour Experience: Book Here

#11 Gizmo Brew Works

gizmo brew works - beer brewery in durham

Do you let the old brewery die with dignity or do you purchase it and resurrect it?

Gizmo Brew Works represents the thinkers, tinkerers and inventors who could not let a good thing fade away. In 2013 they reopened the smallest production brewery in Wake County with new infrastructure to boost its growth. With beer series such as the Inventor, which salutes inventors or inventions who made an impact on the world in which we live; and Prototype, which allows Gizmo brewers to throw on their lab coats and brew something off the cuff, you know the science is there.

Gizmo is constantly experimenting with new ingredients and styles which may sometimes be more extreme in style, flavor and ABV!


Brewery Tour Experience: Book Here

#12 Lonerider Brewing Company

lone rider durham brewery

If you’re ready to get your cowboy on, then The Hideout is where you’ll want to be! Lonerider opened its doors in 2009 and took Raleigh by storm with its German Hefeweizen, Shotgun Betty. From the beginning, Lonerider has followed a beer and a dream, with many award winning brews such as Shotgun Betty, Sweet Josie, Dead Eye Jack and Hoppy Ki Yay to name a few.

You can’t beat the mysterious vibe that The Hideout exudes with a cozy tented bar area and a separate tent for live music and large groups. It won’t take you long to realize there’s a little bit of outlaw in all of us.


Brewery Tour Experience: Book Here

#13 Lynnwood Grill

Lynwood Grill - Brewery Durham

It’s not just the beer names that will grab your attention at Lynnwood Brewing & Concern, just wait until the flavors hit your taste buds! You’ll immediately taste the dedication and attention to detail in every delicious beer they brew.

The Lynnwood Grill was established in 2004 in West Raleigh, and quickly became a local favorite with great pizzas and sandwiches. Lynnwood’s passion and desire to give their customers what they wanted inspired them to create a small brewery, and Lynnwood Brewing Concern was born. Soon they expanded to the brewery to the Five Points area, and honestly you have to just go by and taste for yourself.


Brewery Tour Experience: Book Here

#14 NeuseRiver Brewing Company

Neuse River Brewing - Breweries in Durham

2015 brought us a true gem in the Five Points area of Raleigh. Neuse River Brewing Company specializes in Belgian style ales and IPAs. Their goal is to pay respect to the traditional styles of beer which have been perfected throughout time. However, don’t mistake the fact that they are also passionate about experimenting with contemporary concepts and bridging the gaps between the two.

Neuse River Brewing gave an old fire truck company a brand new look. It exudes a relaxed and serene atmosphere, with plenty of room to spread out and enjoy yourself inside under the Big Ass Fan or outside in the beer garden.


Brewery Tour Experience: Book Here

#15 Nickelpoint Brewing Company

Nickelpoint Brewery - Brewery in Durham NC

Nickelpoint Brewing opened its doors in 2014 with a focus on providing craft beer enthusiasts with the finest quality of traditional European beer. Their goal of consistency is for the beer you drink today to be the same as the beer you drink tomorrow, next week, next month and next year!

Since Nickelpoint sits on the edge of a neighborhood, you’ll notice a bit of a homey feel and you’ll experience how very serious they are about continuing, preserving and growing their relationships with their neighbors. They strive to be a family friendly, neighborhood destination that is warm and welcoming to all.


Brewery Tour Experience: Book Here

# 16 PonySaurus Brewing Company

Ponysaurus Brewery - Durham Brewery

Ponysaurus Brewing Company entered the beer scene in 2015. This forward-thinking, backward-drinking brewery and taproom based in Durham, NC, creates beer that is meant to be savored, appreciated, contemplated, philosophized, studied, nuzzled and mindfully guzzled. It’s the beer beer would drink if beer could drink beer to put it simply!

The atmosphere of Ponysaurus is open, lively and just plain fun. With an amazing deck structure and a large open gated yard, it’s a bit of a playground for gathering with your friends and enjoying their amazing brews.


Brewery Tour Experience: Book Here

#17 Raleigh Brewing Company

Raleigh Brewing Company - Breweries in Durham NC

Come tap the capital with Raleigh Brewing Company, the first woman owned brewery in North Carolina. Raleigh Brewing joined the ranks in 2010, and is a full craft beer experience that strives to embrace the City of Oaks. Everything about Raleigh Brewing from the beer names to the murals of Raleigh in the taproom shows their pride in Raleigh and its history.

Their home brew and commercial shop, Atlantic Brew Supply, allows beer drinkers to experience beer with a whole new perspective. They can teach you how to brew beer, sell you the tanks used to make beer, and provide you with a tap room for tasting the best craft beer in Raleigh. Start to finish, Raleigh Brewing Company creates a craft beer experience you can’t get anywhere else.


Brewery Tour Experience: Book Here

#18 WhiteStreet Brewing Company

white street brewing company - durham NC breweries

White Street Brewing Company opened its doors in the historic town of Wake Forest in September 2012. In the 1930s, the building was a car dealership, and was a gathering place for the community during that time.

Today, it has been meticulously stripped back to the original character, resulting in a unique taproom with exposed brick, exposed beams and an exposed brew house. No glass walls separate you from experiencing the sights and sounds of the action.

The same values are present in every White Street beer. No gimmicks or distracting facades, just honest flavors that have nothing to hide. Each sip is the result of true craftsmanship, reviving the era when things were done right the first time, every time.


Brewery Tour Experience: Book Here

# 19 BullCity Ciderworks

Bull City Ciderworks - Durham Brewery NC

Although breweries are producing such amazing styles right now, most will offer a cider that even the non-beer drinker will enjoy. Ciders are making a comeback, and we’re honored to have Bull City Ciderworks in our corner of the Triangle.

The BULL doesn’t have to play by the rules and hard cider doesn’t have to be sickeningly sweet and taste artificial. Bull City Ciderworks’ ciders are made from 100% apple juice from the mountains of North Carolina. It’s never back sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, so you taste the apple in all its glory. Gluten-free yeast and ingredients ensure a naturally gluten-free cider.

They’re crafting unique ciders that bridge the gap between wine and beer. Honey, black tea, hops, ginger, tart cherries, bacon, candy corn and hibiscus allow them to redefine cider. The BULL is bucking the trend of mainstream ciders. Taste the revolution!


Brewery Tour Experience: Book Here

#20 Raleigh Rum Company

raleigh rum company - breweries in durham nc

Born of their love for craft beer and cocktails; the guys of Raleigh Rum marveled at all of the amazing craft beer in NC. However, in January 2014 they looked around at the liquor shelf and couldn’t find nearly as many options for the liquor side. So Raleigh Rum Company was born!

The three partners, Matt, John and Chris, grew up together in North Carolina and went to rival universities. Each of them is heavily involved in every aspect of the distillery. When you buy a bottle of Raleigh Rum, you can rest assured it was handmade right in the heart of the City of Oaks.

Visit any of these locations and more by booking your exclusive tour with Raleigh Brews Cruise. Raleigh, Apex, Cary, Durham, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs and Wake Forest – the bus travels to them all.

Want to take a day trip and go a little further?

Grab your closest friends and point in the right direction. Raleigh Brews Cruise loves taking people out of their zip code to experience difference craft beers.

Book your tour by calling 919.986.2929 or register online.