Beer Run: Natty Greene’s Pub & Brewing Co.

Visiting Natty Greene’s in Raleigh, N.C. feels like taking that fifth-grade field trip to Williamsburg, but with much better refreshments. Quotes from Revolutionary War figures George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Hancock and others are written on the walls. And, of course, there’s a biography of the pub’s inspiration, Gen. Nathaniel Greene. Greensboro, N.C., where the brewery is based, was named after the general some years after he routed British forces in the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in 1781.

OK, put the elementary schoolers back on the activity bus – it’s time for beer. Natty Greene’s current beer menu includes seven year-round offerings plus eight seasonal quaffs. Most have suitably colonial names, like Stamp Act Spring Rye and Black Powder Imperial Stout. The pub doesn’t offer a tasting flight per se, but you can make your own by ordering taster-size glasses of anything on tap for $1.50 each.

Three of the seasonals were unavailable when The Hub and I visited. I ordered Hessian Hefe-weizen, Wildflower Witbier and Old Town Brown. The Hub got Guilford Golden Ale, Smoothbore Amber Mild Ale and Sir Walter’s ESB. Guilford, Wildflower and Old Town are available year round.

The biggest surprise for both of us was the Wildflower. The Belgian-style white beer is flavored with coriander, chamomile and orange peel – and it smelled like a perfume counter. But it had only a light floral aftertaste, not nearly as strong as it smelled. The flavor was refreshing, with some grassy notes. However, my food (a spinach salad with batter-dipped fried chicken strips, bacon and mustard vinaigrette) overwhelmed it. But on a warm day on a patio…primo.

My Hessian Hefe-weizen was complex in flavor, with clove and banana aromas and a slight, refreshing bitterness. I could definitely taste the advertised “hint of baker’s chocolate” in the Old Town Brown, along with the toasted malt. I fantasized about how this beer could be paired with a dessert, or used in a dessert.

The Hub is a fan of ESBs, and Sir Walter’s did not disappoint him. It was sweet and smooth. The Smoothbore Amber Mild Ale was correctly described as having a “slight caramel flavor up front, followed by just enough hoppy bitterness.” It reminded The Hub of one of his preferred commercial beers, Bass, but better.

The only bust: Guilford Golden Ale. It reminded both of us of (fill in your average pale gold flavorless mass-marketed beer here).