Brewery Culture Runs Deep Here

Burke County, NC
April, 2024

North Carolina has the most breweries and brewpubs of anywhere in the Southern United States.  Brewery culture runs deep here due to the amazing water from the mountains, the creativity of the brewers as well as the collaborations and the friendly competition that makes our craft beer scene one of the best in the country. 

To experience these breweries, we recommend a trip on the Catawba Valley Ale Trail.  This web-based passport program highlights all of the local breweries between four counties in the foothills of NC; Burke, Caldwell, Catawba and McDowell. These counties are all along the Catawba River and share similar history and culture, which can be displayed through their craft breweries.  The trail is made up of 14 breweries each with their own unique brews and atmospheres while still tied together by their surroundings. If participants check in to at least 6 out of the 14 breweries, they will receive a gift in the mail to remind them of their adventure. 4 of these breweries are highlighted below to kickstart your planning process.

Hillman Beer has become a big name in the North Carolina brewery scene. They have three locations, an original in Asheville, their newest in Morganton and their flagship where they have their brewery operations in Old Fort. The Old Fort location is in an old hosiery mill overlooking Mills Creek. The 10,000 square foot space is the perfect location to grab a bite and a brew after hiking or biking in neighboring Pisgah National Forest.  This location has 32 rotating taps, typically carrying roughly 30 beers with at least one homemade seltzer and one regional cider.  

Fonta Flora Brewery has garnered lots of national attention due to its fun experiments with Appalachian native ingredients, barleywines, and other unique ingredients not usually found in beer. They started in a small shop in Morganton in 2013 before expanding to an old Dairy Farm at the edge of the Linville Gorge Wilderness area by Lake James. This farm now called Fonta Flora Whippoorwill is where they do all their brewing and host events from beer releases to fundraisers and more.  Their unique drink style and beautiful location in rural Burke County really set them apart from other breweries.

Happy Valley Filling Station is in a similarly rural area in Caldwell County. Once an old filling station, Their beer is award winning but their pizza is what really sets them apart.  Their sourdough crust and fun combinations like figs and arugula make amazing pies that pair so well with their craft beers.

Lastly, our newest addition to the Catawba Valley Ale Trail, City Walk  Located in an old Pawn Shop in Downtown Hickory This fun new brewery features great beer as well as craft spirits made in house.  They have a neat outdoor space with huge tables, great for large group outings, while also being walking distance to lots of great restaurants and venues in the central business district.  It also is part of Hickory’s social district so you can get a beverage to take with you as you listen to music or shop.

We hope to see you at these or any of our other 14 breweries in the Catawba Ale Trail this spring and summer as you get out and explore North Carolina.

For more on Craft Brew Destinations in Burke County, call (888) 462-2921, or go online to:

The Burke County Tourism Development Authority is located in Morganton, North Carolina, and serves the tourism interests of Burke County, NC.  Morganton is hailed as, “The Trailhead of Western North Carolina”, centrally located in Burke County. Our Visitor’s Center is full of information about unique attractions and activities in the area. Stop by and visit us! or visit

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