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Visit Fullsteam Brewery in Durham, where the South’s experimental beer movement began. Opening its doors in August 2010, this brewery has captured many awards and accolades. Fullsteam prides itself with the motto “From Plow To Pint” reflecting the brewery’s strong emphasis on local. Fullsteam “buys local to brew local.” Fullsteam was my first introduction to craft beer and I can’t say that I was wowed. I didn’t want a beer with sweet potato in it.

patrons at open barn doors in Fullsteam Brewing

I gave Fullsteam another shot when the show Brew Dogs filmed their Season Two opener in Durham (Yes! That’s how on the map we are!) The brewer at Fullsteam joined the hosts of Brew Dogs in creating the most caloric beer – a maple bacon stout with a dollop of Parlour ice cream. I was at Fullsteam at the filming (you can actually see me in the earlier cycling portion in a blue top in that episode!).

It was only through my two visits this year that I’ve come to appreciate Fullsteam for all it has done for craft beer. The new beer flavors, the food menu, either I didn’t understand Fullsteam before or my tastes have developed enough to enjoy it.

The Beer

Fullsteam flight of beer on NC shaped boardFullsteam divides its beer into four general categories: classics, future, seasonal and farm’s edge. I like the fact that the brewers make food pairing suggestions for many of their beers and indicate how much of the product is locally sourced.

We tried:

Paycheck – a Pilsner. With a light 4.5% alcohol, this beer is 17% local sourced. Drink it on a nice hot day.

Beasley’s – a honey white. At 5.1% alcohol, this beer is 18% local sourced. While fruity, it has a bit of a peppery taste too. It is apparently divine with fried chicken.

Zach Attack – a ginger saison. With 6.2% alcohol, this beer is 18% local sourced. The brewers recommend pairing it with Asian cuisine or spicy food.

Durhama – a New England IPA. With a 6.6% alcohol, this beer is 15% local sourced. Think Durham + Drama. Proceeds from the sale of this beer benefit the local Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. And while I don’t like IPAs, I do like the smoother, less hoppy, taste of NE IPAs. Goes well with citrusy and spicy food.

Fullsteam flight of beers on North Carolina boardYou Are Here #1 – another New England IPA. With a 6.4% alcohol, this beer is 15% local sourced. This beer brings awareness to the North Carolina Museum of Art’s You Are Here: Light, Color, and Sounds Experiences  meant to activate the viewers’ senses with art, on in this case, the drinkers’ senses with beer. (By the way, I’m looking forward to this exhibit!)

Southern Basil – This farmhouse ale used to be my go-to when I first started coming here. Only 5% alcohol. This beer features an amazing 26% local products. This basil flavored wheat had a peppery bite. It is a seasonal beer, so not always available but it complements pizza and pasta dishes. But I love the new beers so much more!

Hogwash – Allan is sad any time they are out of this imperial smoked porter. A bit stronger at 8.0% alcohol, this 13% local sourced beer goes great with smoked meats, cheese and chocolate.

Farm’s Edge: First Frost – Infused with foraged persimmon ale, this beer packs a punch with 13% alcohol. This beer is 26% local sourced. Brewers suggest drinking it with soft cheeses and a fireplace.

The Food

Fullsteam used to be THE place where all the cool food trucks hung out. In 2017, Fullsteam decided to open its own kitchen to offer small bites. And the food that I’ve tried has been fabulous! Following the farm to table theme, the menu features local items and local flavors. Ask your bartenders for their recommendation – they haven’t steered me wrong yet!

Fullsteam fritters and tater totsWe tried the Crispy Tater Tots – with pimento cheese sauce and pickled jalapenos. Eat them fast so they don’t get soggy (at least that was my excuse!). We also had the Cauliflower and Feta Fritters – because you can never have too many fried vegetables.

With options like Crisp Pork Belly and Country Ham Sliders, nothing goes better with Carolina beer that great Carolina food!

Everything Else

brewers at Fullsteam

While most breweries tolerate dogs and kids, Fullsteam encourages patrons to bring their kids and dogs. A large selection of board games, arcade games, and a ping pong table promise to keep kids (and let’s face it, adults), entertained for hours. And dogs get to see their friends too, while roaming on the outside patio or in the inside picnic room.

Fullsteam has become a symbol for the community in Durham. Large screens display the latest sports or popular event. The brewery hosts a donation yoga class every Sunday morning at 10:45 am. Their running club (Fullsteam Ahead!) meets Wednesdays at 6 pm and is one of the largest clubs in the area.

ping pong table with arcade games in backOr join your friends for Trivia Thursdays starting at 9 pm. They even have their own Twitter account – @FullsteamTrivia – which has been known to drop hints and scoops!

Consider joining Scythe & Sparrow – their membership club. A twelve-month membership costs $59 per person or $99 per couple. Members enjoy a 20 oz pour for the price of a 16 oz., 20% discount on merchandise and beer-to-go, first dibs on seasonal releases, and special members-only events.

yoga class inside Fullsteam BrewingCheck out all their details here.  

If you’re visiting Durham, come give Fullsteam a try. And if you haven’t been here in a bit, give Fullsteam another try – you’ll be happy you did.

And if you’re in the area, don’t forget to check out some of other favorites featured in the blog:  Ponysaurus Brewing and Bull City Ciderworks.  And here are more unusual places to work out in Durham.


Annick, The Common Traveler

doors at Fullsteam Brewing