“The Durham and Raleigh areas are on fire,” an 83-year-old man holding an IPA and speaking in a slow, Southern drawl tells me.
Nearly 20 years ago, Durham, NC was my home. But there’s no sense of nostalgia in recalling the food and drink scenes then. In the four years I lived here, I don’t remember anyone saying “IPA.” The local gas station was our bottle (can) shop. But in recent years, just like it's happened in so many other cities across the country, vacant brick structures and factories have become the birthplaces for offices, restaurants, distilleries, and breweries.
Fullsteam Brewery in Durham has been open for seven years. Walking in, we're met with ping pong tables, old school video games, groups of friends, families, and dogs—all the makings of a vibrant, college town taproom. And it’s packed.
We weave through the crowd to the bar in back and I let the bartender choose my first half pint. She opts for the NE-style IPA, White Lily. Growing up in Durham in the 1980s and ‘90s, she moved back to the area a few years ago. “The whole food and beer scene here has exploded,” she tells us.
Indeed, you might even say it's on fire.