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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The Christmas expectations are not there. It’s about us, our friends and families and being thankful for having them around us. Family and friends is not the main origin behind Thanksgiving. There are two entries in Wikipedia about the origin. Both of them basically saying that it’s a harvest fest giving thanks to God. Now, it’s more of a family holiday where families get together. Christmas on the other hand has become more about consuming which Thanksgiving has been spared from. The consumer element at Thanksgiving comes the day after, on Black Friday, the big shopping day.

In my town Black Friday is also a day for beer. Our local brewery, Triangle Brewery, is hosting a Black Friday Cask Ale event that is a fund raiser for North Carolina Brewer’s Guild. It’s like a micro beer festival with only cask ales. You pay $30 for a ticket and get to try as many beers as you want during the 5 hour event with, live music, food and a

Crowd at Black Friday (Photo by Kisnley Dey, Dey Photography)

pint glass included. The beer community here is fairly large and knowledgeable about beer. Even though there has been a handful of cask ale events in my town the past 2 years, cask conditioned ale is a relatively new experience for many in the beer community. About 350 curious beer lovers traded an afternoon of Black Friday shopping with having an experience with great beers instead.

All of the 22 cask ales at the event were from North Carolina Breweries. Porters and stouts were in a majority which reflects the time of the year. I tried many of the beers but I’m just going to mention a few. One of  the breweries in North Carolina that I find really enjoyable is  Foothills Brewing Company. They always have something that makes me happy. The Total Eclipse Stout has a fairly high alcohol content but the alcohol flavors are hidden in the silky roasted and well balanced bitterness flavors.

In honor of Black Friday Rick Tufs at Triangle Brewery, co-owner and head brewer of our local brewery in Durham, had really come up with a different stout. Rick describes it as a foreign  style stout with local coffee, Godiva dark chocolate and raspberries. All of the flavors were there with an over tone of bitter chocolate and a light raspberry flavor at the end. It took me a while to decide if it was a beer that I would drink again or not drink again. In the end I think I would have it again. It’s a very interesting beer.

Boylan Bridge Brewpub is located in the state capital of Raleigh, only 45 Km from Durham.  They had a porter that I have had before but from a keg. There were no significant difference in the flavors between the two. Like its’ keg sister it tasted more like a dark Belgian brown than a porter, but still an enjoyable beer.

Pouring beer at Black Friday (Photo by Kinsley Dey, Dey Photography)

Highland Brewing Company is one of North Carolina’s oldest craft breweries. Their location in North Carolina’s beer capitol of Asheville in the Smokey Mountains is an inspiring environment for brewing great beers. The award winning Moca Java Stout (Silver medal at Great American Beer Festival in Denver, CO) is a robust and malty beer with a chocolate flavor.

After I had gone through a good portion of the beer I decided to meet up with friends and people I had met at this Black Friday event. I headed towards The Federal, one of our good local beer bars, on my bike. I finished the day with some interesting conversations with Julie Johnson, editor and co-owner of All About Beer Magazine, Ginger Johnson, owner of Women Enjoying Beer and her husband Larry. Ginger helps breweries and distributors reach women with their products. 50.9% of the American population are women but only 21% of the women prefer beer as their alcoholic beverage. That’s a huge opportunity for the nation’s breweries and Ginger can help them reach these women. She and Larry sold their house and and set out on a home-free-tour around the USA.

Thanksgiving continued for me through Black Friday. I had the opportunity to spend the day with Durham’s beer community and meeting new friends and not fighting with others at the shopping mall trying to get the best deal. I found the best deal at Triangle Brewery’s Black Friday which I’m thankful for.