TOP IN TAPS
By the Numbers, Raleigh Beer Garden Breaks Records and Expectations
By Karlie Justus Marlowe, Photography by Davies Photography
Raleigh Beer Garden really takes the classic “99 bottles of beer on the wall…” earworm to the next level.
Since opening in downtown Raleigh’s Glenwood South district in July, the bar and restaurant – dubbed “the Garden” by staff and regulars – has held the world title for the most individual taps under one roof, a mecca in a beer-obsessed town where bottle shops and breweries (and sanctions restricting late-night patio drinking) seem to pop up overnight.
As the latest venture from restaurateurs Niall Hanley and Cliff Bleszinki, Raleigh Beer Garden’s novelty doesn’t end at its deep draft list: By the numbers, here’s a look at its unique additions to the Raleigh bar scene.
Height, in feet, of the tree inside the Raleigh Beer Garden’s entrance. Towering above the first-level spirits bar, the Pin Oak Tree makes for an impressive entry right inside the door.
Sourced by Ronnie Parrish of Parrish Tree Services, the tree was rebuilt inside “to implement more of an outside feel into the interior of the space and add to the uniqueness of the space in the front,” according to director of marketing and events Frank Bloom.
Its rustic charm echoes the ship-lapped wooden walls but strikes a contrast to the metal shelves housing the bar’s only liquor selection, which requires a rolling ladder to reach the top and goes by the nickname of “Spiritual.”
“Spiritual was created because we felt like there are many patrons that are going to come to the Garden looking for something with a little more of a kick to it aside from craft beer,” said Bloom.
Number of draft beers on tap*
This number comes with an asterisk, as it’s always being updated on the Raleigh Beer Garden’s online Taphunter menu, which tracks the beer selection in near real-time. The digital menu breaks up beers by type and by Bottom Bar, Top Bar and Rooftop Bar offerings, and can be accessed on the Taphunter app available for iPhone and Android.
“It’s the world’s largest draft beer selection custom built under one roof – that’s the most unique feature,” said Bloom.
At the bar, the draft list towers over the taps on digital screens over the heads of busy bartenders, listing out brews from Triangle locals like Big Boss and Lonerider and national and international names big and small.
What to do if the options prove overwhelming?
“Have an open mind,” suggests Bloom. “If your favorite beer is not available or it ran out as you were coming to the bar, explore the vast options in that style or another style – you may discover something you like that you didn’t have the opportunity to try out on draft til you came to the Garden.”
Levels of indoor and outdoor space
Raleigh Beer Garden’s three levels span 8,900 square feet inside, with an additional 12,000 square feet of outdoor space filled with bench seating shaded by umbrellas. In the winter, a gas log fireplace will serve as a centerpiece outside, and radiant heater stands will warm up patrons throughout the outdoor seating.
Up top, the roof bar makes up for a smaller drink selection with its herb garden: Fresh herbs go straight into the cocktail list and are also used in a few of the food dishes.
Different bars with different drink lists
At Raleigh Beer Garden, cocktails can only be ordered at the first-floor cocktail bar, and the same goes for the first-level’s North Carolina beers bar and the second floor’s “from the rest of the world” selection. The rooftop’s smaller beer list offers a mix of both.
“Craft beer in North Carolina is such a strong draw, and also a national up-and-comer in the beer scene, that it was a perfect opportunity to highlight that upward trending brand that is NC craft beer,” according to Bloom.
One thing all four bars have in common: Each was made from sawmilled pecan trees from the property when it was being converted into the Raleigh Beer Garden – milled onsite, kiln-dried for many months and brought back in as the countertops and bar tops, as well as a few of the cocktail tables.
Menu items to pair with your beer
The draft list gets most of the love, but Raleigh Beer Garden’s kitchen serves up popular items like beer-battered fried pretzels and handcrafted pizzas, and many are natural mates to the beers on tap.
“There are a lot of great pairing options,” says Bloom. “Some of the darker, heavier stouts and porters coming up in the colder months are great alongside the Charcuterie plate.”