Aviator Brewing Night Jump release


For North Carolina locals, Aviator Brewing Company is one of the “older” breweries in the Raleigh area – they’ve been around for about 8 years!  Last year they released a bourbon barrel aged (13% abv) Stout called Night Jump.  Oh, and the other thing about Aviator is that they are a can only brewery, so a 13% barrel aged stout in a can is not your normal 2016-11-19_17-38-44_784release.  Oh, and the other, most important thing?  It tasted great!  Once word started getting around about this amazing stout, Night Jump disappeared off the shelves.   I have a feeling that the interest and demand for Night Jump took Aviator by surprise – obviously in a good way.

Once word started to spread that Aviator was releasing the 2016 vintage of Night Jump, I made a mental note to make my way out to Fuquay-Varina for the release.  Once the release event was announced for November 19, I circled the date on the calendar…..and then I found out that the wife of a fellow board member for a local non-profit I’m privileged to be associated with works at Aviator and could arrange for tickets for me and Mrs. Stoutwhisperer – thanks John and Michelle!!

Aviator called the event the Night-Night party – it was a dual release of Night Jump and Devil’s Nightmare, a 15% abv Belgium Imperial Tripel Ale!   Yesterday was a beautiful day – probably the last beautiful day of the year – so Aviator must be doing something right!  Aviator is located in a rural industrial park (like so many other breweries) and it took us about 45 minutes to get to Fuquay from Raleigh, but it was a pleasant drive.  They timed their tickets in order to avoid lines and Mrs. S. and I showed up around 2:30pm or so (it started at 12:00 noon).   As we were walking in, we were welcomed by John and Michelle who gave us the rundown for the day.  We circled around to the back lot and as we checked in (no 2016-11-19_14-49-44_648lines), we were handed our Night-Night goblet for the day and we were introduced to Buddy the CFO and were welcomed again!  There was a band playing, a couple of food trucks open for business,  some intense cornhole contests going on, and taps galore with the entire line of Aviator’s drafts were flowing.

Mrs. S. opted for Mad Beach, a tasty wheat ale.  Not unexpectedly, I made a beeline for the Night Jump tap and had my goblet filled with the pitch black elixir.  About the only constructive comment I will make about the entire day is right here – and it’s not specific to Aviator – everyone serves Stouts on tap TOO COLD!!   Stouts should be served around 50-60 degrees which allows the complex flavors and tastes to emerge.  Serve a stout too cold and those flavors stay hidden forever.  2016-11-19_14-43-37_72713% Stouts are to be sipped and savored and shouldn’t be in the same category as a 5% Ale, which should be served cold.  OK, enough of my ongoing quest for warmer draft Stouts!!  I spent about 10 minutes cupping my Night Jump trying to warm it up a bit, which helped.
The flavors I didn’t taste when I first sipped it started to come out….the sweet flavors of chocolate and vanilla from the cocoa nibs and bourbon barrel aging and the smoothness on the swallow.  That was the Night Jump I remember from last year – in fact, perhaps even better!!

We were fortunate to be able to take a tour of the Aviator facility with Chris, who provided an excellent overview of the past, present, and future of Aviator!!  Some snippets:

-Mike, the founder/owner, is a pilot and started brewing in the hangar where he kept his plane….thus the Aviator 2016-11-19_14-43-58_485name and the aviation motif (their tap handles are half propellers)

-the barrels they use for aging are from Smooth Ambler, a West Virginia distillery.  Chris 2016-11-19_15-13-51_267told us a good story about how they came to get these barrels.  Seems like another brewery backed out of a deal and they stopped by Aviator and asked if they were interested in some barrels.  The rest, they say, is history.

-they recently purchased a new canning line and when it is fully operational, it will be the largest craft beer canning line on the East Coast.  It is a fully refurbished line once 2016-11-19_15-18-01_146used by RC Cola and has 72 filling heads.  I must tell you, it looks pretty impressive and I would love to see it when it comes on line!

Chris did a great job entertaining us and telling the Aviator story and was happy to spend a few extra minutes with me after the tour.  After the tour, we spent some more time walking around the premises watching some of the college football that were on the big screen TVs scattered around the taproom.  The place had a very easy going vibe – everyone was clearly having a good time!!

When we decided to leave, we found John and Michelle again.  I purchased some Night 2016-11-20_10-35-43_306Jump cans to go and also picked up a cool T-Shirt – I’ll be a walking Night Jump billboard!  We had a great time at Aviator and it won’t take us another release party to return!  Thanks to all of the good people at Aviator!  The Night-Night release party was a success!

One other note about Aviator – they have quite a presence in Fuquay-Varina.  Besides the brewery, they have a taproom/restaurant, a smokehouse, and a bottleshop all in the downtown district in Fuquay….and when we drove by, the outside patio of the taproom was packed!!  It’s amazing how craft beer breweries can impact a local economy – Aviator is a wonderful example of playing a key role in revitalizing an area.  Another example is the South Slope area of Asheville – see my previous post about our Asheville Stoutcation!

As an aside, Mrs. S. and I had dinner at City Barbecue in Cary – highly recommended!!  Go for their Brisket and their Potato Salad is fantastic as well!

What has been your favorite release event?  Leave a comment and share!



A CANniversary!


2015-12-27_202742092_A31A2_iOSToday is National Beer Can Appreciation Day.  Apparently canned beer was born on this day in 1935 in Richmond, Virginia (so says Wikipedia).  So the beer can is 81 years old today.  I celebrated by drinking a stout in a can.  I enjoyed a Silverback Stout from The Unknown Brewing Company in Charlotte, NC.  You can read my review of this stout on my Recent Reviews page.  The concept of a canned Stout is a relatively recent phenomenon – at least as far as I know – but it’s a welcome one.  Traditionally Stouts are bottled in 12, 16.9, or 22 oz. bottles…..and for the most part, the 22 oz. bomber is primarily (although not exclusively) associated with a Stout.

Cans on the other hand, seemed to reside on the other side of the beer neighborhood, living with the lagers, ales, and lighter beers.  Cans are associated with portability and travel, as the chance for breakage is practically nil as compared to our trusty friend, the bottle.  Cans are simple and need no additional tooling like a bottle opener.  Now I do remember the “olden days” when cans didn’t have the pop-top/pull-top and you did require a can opener or church key- but thats in the past and we’ve progressed in our canned beer technology.

Fast forward to the last couple of years and we’re seeing the proliferation of canned beer through the craft beer wave.  Some breweries are exclusively canned operations (Oskar Blues for example), while others are dipping their proverbial toes into canning (Founder’s has a few of their offerings in cans).  Our friends at The Alchemist in Vermont even go so far to suggest that you drink their Heady Topper from the can – it’s printed on the can!!  Even “Crowlers” (large cans) are becoming more popular as another option to a Growler.  Crowlers are sealed like regular cans, so the beer can supposedly last longer than in a Growler.  There are even companies whose sole mission is mobile canning –  a canning operation on wheels and they travel to small breweries who cannot afford to buy their own canning line and turn their batches of beer into canned beer which find their way to local store shelves.  I’m aware of such mobile canning operations in Michigan, Indiana, and Vermont and I’m sure there are others.

In the Stout world, I’m seeing my local NC breweries get “can fever”.  One brewery, Aviator Brewery of Fuquay-Varina, NC has a 12 oz. canned stout called Night Jump, which is a Barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout that clocks in at 13%ABV!  Now that’s a can of beer!  I’m getting a few of those and putting them in the beer fridge for the summer!

In commemoration of the beer can, the next time you are at your favorite bottleshop or grocery store and are perusing your favorite malted beverages, take a few moments and give a little love to the canned offerings – they’re not your father’s cans anymore!!

Weekend Tastings


December 27, 2015

This long holiday weekend was quite enjoyable.  Aside from celebrating Christmas with family, I was able to sample a couple of new stouts as well as visit some old “friends”.    I was able to bookend Terrapin’s Wake-n-Bake and Aviator’s Night Jump with a couple of Saturday morning Guinness stouts that were beautifully poured by Darren at the London Bridge pub in Raleigh, NC.  We watched Liverpool play (and defeat) Leicester City in English Premier League action (soccer).  The London Bridge Pub is the local home for the Raleigh chapter of the Liverpool Fan Club.2015-12-26_154923230_28E3B_iOS  It was a great environment to watch the match, as there were 50-60 Liverpool fans rooting for their team.  I also realized that while Guinness was my introduction to the world of stout beer, it made me realize that I’ve moved on and I concluded that I drink stouts to sample the various styles and flavors, not to get buzzed or drunk.  I enjoy the entire experience – the pour, the smell, the way it feels in my mouth, the taste and aftertaste, and the way stouts can change in taste as they warm.   The Guinness didn’t give me the satisfaction that Wake-n-Bake or Night Jump did this weekend.   Especially unfortunate was the fact that the restaurant that we ate lunch at had a couple of stouts that I would have loved to sample, but after 2 Guinness’s, my palate was a bit dulled and I couldn’t justify more beer.

How about you?  Have you had similar experiences?  I’d love to hear your stories?