If anyone follows my Instagram or Twitter feeds, you’ll know that The Toll from Raleigh Brewing is one of my favorite local Stouts. To celebrate all things Toll, the good people at Raleigh Brewing decided to hold a “Fireside Chat”. For a nominal admission price, you could enjoy unlimited pours (within reason of course) of 7 different Tolls – 2014 through 2017 The Toll as well as Rum, Bourbon and Port barrel aged The Toll. There was food for all participants and everyone from Raleigh Brewing was available to chat – the Owners, the Brewers, and many of the staff.
I was fortunate enough to attend and really enjoyed myself. It was a well run event and everyone from Raleigh Brewing was very friendly and accommodating. I was able to get a few minutes with the owner of Raleigh Brewing, Kristie Nystedt, and she shared with me the reason for holding this event. Raleigh Brewing never has held a release event for The Toll so this was a way to celebrate this popular Stout and it’s dedicated fan base.
I also was able to spend some time with the Head Brewer, Scott Craddock and the other Raleigh Brewing brewers. I asked them about their plans for The Toll and where they were looking to take their franchise Stout. Specifically, I asked whether we would see any adjuncts (Coffee, Cinnamon, Vanilla, Coconut, etc.) in any upcoming releases. Scott’s focus on The Toll is to make it the best Stout they know how – no adjuncts. It’s clear that they know what is happening in the Stout world and they have no interest in duplicating what is already in the market. They want to standout and be a leader by focusing on their strengths.
They do like to experiment with barrel aging, however. Raleigh Brewing releases an annual Bourbon Barrel Aged version of The Toll (the 2017 vintage was just released a few weeks ago) and had on tap at the event a Rum Barrel Aged version and a Port Barrel Aged version. I really enjoyed the Rum Barrel Toll and the Bourbon Barrel Toll is always solid. As for the Port Barrel Toll, I wasn’t a big fan. I was able to get the grape flavoring from the barrel but didn’t really think that added to the overall flavor profile. That seemed to be a common theme in my discussions with other attendees.
I was also able to steal a few moments with the Amy Hanson, Raleigh Brewing’s Marketing and Events Manager. She was gracious and welcoming to all of the attendees.. We talked about social media and how important it is to local craft brewers like Raleigh Brewing. We also discussed the Triangle Craft Beer Alliance, which was formed to promote the local craft beer industry – brewers, bottle stores, basically anyone affiliated with craft beer in the Triangle.
Reflecting on the Fireside Chat, I thought Raleigh Brewing did a great job promoting not only The Toll but Raleigh Brewing as a local small business. Getting to know the people behind the logo makes you more loyal to that logo. Thanks to Kristie, Scott, Amy and the rest of the Raleigh Brewing staff for the well run event…..and for The Toll!