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Durty Bull Brewing Company

Durham, North Carolina


Crusin’ Rating: C+

Booze Rating: C-

Crusin For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Durty Bull Brewing Company- North Carolina- Outside

Now that we’ve hit all of our stops along Hwy 71 on our way to La Crosse, WI, it’s time for another guest brewery. Shift gears with us as we take you back to our time in the Research Triangle of North Carolina where we paid a visit to Durty Bull Brewing Company in Bull City - Durham, NC. While we weren’t going to have the time to visit every brewery in Chapel Hill, Raleigh, or Durham, we did some research and asked opinions whenever we could for suggestions on which breweries were must-stops. Durty Bull, at the time of opening had been named in the top 34 New Breweries in the U.S. so it ended up being our winning pick of our Durham beer review.

Located only a few blocks from our previous destination in Durham, and only a brief 20 minute drive from some absolutely fantastic lunch at the Salt Box Seafood Joint, Durty Bull was our first brewery reviewed on our NC trip and right off the bat it reminded us so much of Wisconsin, particularly Milwaukee. An old brick building with a loading dock, a makeshift bier garten that was built over a parking lot, and plenty of folks outside enjoying what shade they could find while sipping on brews. It was really the aesthetic that made us a little homesick. Although pieces of conversation floated our way there were definitely a lot more “y’alls” and a lot less “opes”. The outdoor space, a raised deck over blacktop, bistro lighting, patio shades, and even an event tent gave enough seating for at least 60 people, if not more. We weren’t entirely sure if the tent was a mainstay or for some sort of wedding-related event that seemed to be taking place. Although I don’t envy any guy stuck in a suit on an 86 degree day, regardless of the beer!

There was a metal gangway, slightly rusty, that acted as a ramp and staircase to reach the door of the brewery that snaked its way between the deck-patio and the event tent. Once inside, we immediately noticed a TV set up with some Mario Kart N64 being played by a few patrons and, fairly typical of breweries back home, concrete walls, a few high top tables, and a wooden bar with hand-painted/chalked signage with lots of colorful beer names. Another thing that stood out, and what I found unique to NC breweries - as we visited more just about every spot had one - was a beer slushy machine. Exactly as it sounds, these beer/selter slushies riff on tiki cocktails - maybe a coincidence but Painkillers were in abundance at several places - but replace the spirit with beer, that beer often being a very fruit-forward IPA or seltzer. We touched briefly on how Captain Dan and his wife never found beer in NC served quite cold enough and we wonder if the slushy is the answer or compromise to that.

Thankful to be out of the heat for a moment, Hannah and I were greeted and made our decision on a flight of 5, balking slightly at the $15.00 price tag for five samples which is definitely going to be steep when compared to the majority of places in WI ($5 a sample is a little pricey). Making a mental note to come back in and try the slushy if we get too hot, Hannah requested sitting outside to enjoy the sun. There was a private barrel room that we noticed had a projector and perhaps screened movies or presentations but this was clearly a working-brewery. We spied a forklift carrying pallets through another door in a large room that also opened up onto the patio and we surmised that the loading dock may still be very much in use. This was a no frills brewing spot that was churning out beer and making the best use of it’s outdoor space to draw in customers not unlike Component Brewing Company in Milwaukee.

Let’s see how this NC beer stacks up, all bias aside, we promise!

Queeny’s Kolsch (4.0% ABV) - A pleasant gold, this beer featured high clarity and sweet grain on the nose. Tasting, there were notes of citrus zest and low grapefruit skin notes. Really, I think this beer was a little too timid and slightly sweet for a style that calls for balance between malt, fruitiness, and bitterness when tasting. It was pleasant enough to drink for sure, but I wanted that balance to be apparent and I didn’t want to have to really dig for it when tasting.

Amateur Hour Seltzer (7.0%) - While not a beer, Hannah wanted to see what a NC seltzer was like and if there was going to be any difference. This Seltzer was billed as Painkiller-flavored and was the shade of orange juice, just as cloudy, and smelled of orange, mango, and pineapple. There was a lot of pineapple when tasting, and we had to mention the pulpy mouthfeel and noticeable acid content. That thick pulpiness almost gave it a smoothie-like quality in the mouth. Finishing with orange, we didn’t find any coconut or nutmeg in here as the description suggested. Hannah quite enjoyed this and suggested it as a solid brunch addition but with the warning that it was a little thick to be drinking more than one.

No, it’s a Cardigan but Thanks for Noticing (7.0% ABV) - This New England Hazy IPA featured Citra, Mosaic, Strata, and Centennial Hops. Pouring a pale, cloudy, almost honeybee yellow there were notes of lemon and freshly broken pine needles when smelling. Noticeably low carbonation, this was a smooth drinker almost a similar consistency to the seltzer we tried and while there was an overarching note to the hops throughout the taste, we primarily picked up orange and grapefruit with a piney finish. This was decent.

No One Asked for Your Opinion, Matt (6.8%) - It’s only a matter of time before they start naming beers full-on sentences, rather than fragments, but I appreciate the inside jokes with some of the names at Durty Bull. In this instance, it was a reference to the owner, Matt, and his hatred of Citra Hops. This beer features all citra, just to spite him, and pours a cloudy, pale straw. Plenty of citrus notes and a little floral when smelling, we picked up grapefruit and lime, and even some tropical fruit notes when tasting and a decidedly floral finish. This was a decent IPA for those just looking for Citra Hops, but you already knew that!

Liberator Steinbier (7.6% ABV) - What’s a steinbier? A beer that uses hot stones in a wooden tub of course! A first for us, we didn’t have a real style to judge this off of so we will give you a few brief notes, as many types of beer can be called a steinbier. This beer was the color of stained oak, almost amber. Smelling honey-sweet and nutty, this beer was also fairly sweet, as in a biscuit and toasty sweet with just a brief note of hop presence. While I would have loved this in the fall, it was not something that, was super enjoyable on a hot day. I reserve judgment as this is the first time trying this type of beer, but even on a cold day, I think this was fairly middling as a beer and needed some additional complexity.

This brewery made us a little homesick, not that we were gone for any great period of time, not only because it looked so much like a spot you might find in Milwaukee or Green Bay, but it also made me a little homesick for beer with a little more backbone to it. This isn’t the confirmation bias talking, but this brewery definitely had me thinking that the overall quality of Wisconsin beer is a bit higher. Hannah, wisely, reminded me that this was just one brewery and we had to keep that in mind that there’s going to be a slough of breweries, solid and less so in any city. If I were to take a trip back to the triangle, I would actually try one of the other breweries in Durham rather than return but was grateful to get a taste of what the Bull City had to offer.

Until next time, keep on crusin’, don’t stop boozin’!

To learn more about Durty Bull Brewing Company please visit their website at: or on Facebook: @DurtyBull or on Instagram: @DurtyBull

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