Fonta Flora Brewery and Singlewyde Pizza at Whippoorwill Farm – Nebo, NC
North Carolina is the land of beer. I have five breweries within a five minute walk of my apartment. Charlotte has dozens in its city limits. Raleigh has more. Asheville is legendary. This is beer country, and the best beer here, for my money, is made by the folks at Fonta Flora.
I have never had a bad beer at Fonta Flora. There's an outpost at the wonderful Optimist Hall, a converted textile mill just east of uptown Charlotte and the site of my favorite casual spot for a fiery lunch, The Dumpling Lady. They made their beer, though, up by my dear Auntie Cindy's house on Lake James, 90 minutes northwest of Charlotte, and serve up samples on a farm just a short drive from the lake house. During our recent annual family reunion at "Camp Melloy," we decided to have a family evening at the farm, and share some beers, pizzas, and laughs.
Fonta Flora regularly brings food trucks to the farm, and being so close to Asheville, this part of NC has no shortage of them. Singlewyde is a pizza food truck that uses local grain for their dough, the same yeast Fonta Flora uses in their beer, and as many local products as possible on their pizzas. Hence, it's a perfect fit for Fonta Flora, a brewery known for incorporating ingredients from as close to the brewery as possible in their beers, like cherries or peaches from sub-Appalachian farms or oak from the area for aging. The ethos is immensely appealing to me and fortunately very successful in its execution.
My favorite beers from Fonta Flora are their double IPAs. They are fiercely inventive with their combination of hops, and produce double IPAs that are remarkably balanced for a type of beer that is normally sticky with hops. They didn't have my fave IPA, which is brewed with local peaches, but their unfiltered IPAs on tap were absolutely fantastic, but will sneak up on you because they're so smooth!
Their sour beers are also a highlight. Many of them they make with grapes, creating a beer that almost has the character of a natural or skin contact wine. My fave was a "Rosé" beer, which was refreshing and made with local merlot grapes––a perfect beer for a sticky summer day in the south!
We ordered two or three of each of the pizzas since we had so many people, and damn they were good, even if the guys serving the pizzas from the truck weren't particularly friendly (those aloof Asheville hipster types ya know). I managed to grab a small slice (or two!) of each one:
Tomato base with hot soppressata, parmesan, oregano, and honey. Spicy, sweet, and so so good.
Tomato base with pepperoni and jalapeño. A crowd fave.
Ricotta, prosciutto, and arugula. One of my favorite combos.
A local farm sausage, mushroom, ricotta, basil. Another crowd fave.
We also ordered a couple of their Everything Bagel pizzas, which I was looking forward to, but the pizza chef burned his hand and shut down for the evening. Yikes!
If you happen to find yourself in North Carolina, do yourself a favor and get some of the fantastic local beers they have around. There is no end to the breweries here, and many of them are world class. To my mind, Fonta Flora belongs in the highest echelons of craft beer in the state, if not the country. Seek it out!
Hope all of y'all are having a great summer, and spending some time enjoying the outdoors with family and friends! It is great to be back in the US and I have a backlog of posts for you, including Central in Lima and another little culinary voyage to NYC. Stay tuned!