The IBS did a nice job, I thought, of finding local blues talent -- and a national act to fill the headliner bill -- to provide music entertainment throughout the day. There was also brew and barbecue to satisfy the pallet.
And so it happened that's where my mind transformed when I learned that Aviator Brewing Co. of Fuquay-Varina, N.C., owned a sister enterprise called Aviator Smokehouse, 525 E. Broad St., which is across Broad Street from the brewery's Taphouse, 600 E. Broad St., yet another sister enterprise (and not the last ... more about that a little below). OK, so maybe the live music aspect was lacking, but still ... beer and barbecue!
Aviator Smokehouse is a pub specializing in barbecue, but as I fully expected, it is equipped with the full compliment of Aviator beers. I had just finished lunch elsewhere, so I went to Broad Street to sample the Aviator brews.
You might think I should have gone to the taphouse if I wasn't looking for food, and you probably would be right. But I didn't know at the time that the building across the street from the restaurant was the taphouse; I thought it was the brewery, and I knew from researching online that the brewery didn't open until 4 p.m. (Turns out the brewery is actually a mile or so away at 209 Technology Park Lane).
So ... I went to the smokehouse, which had almost two dozen Aviator brews on tap. I asked the server about sampling a flight. The server quoted me an $8 price to try six brews. She said to add $2 more for each additional pair I would like to sample.
I decided to limit my sampling to six, and I tried (above, left to right) Transatlantic IPA, MacBawBag Scotch Ale, 3Bones Kolsch Style Ale, Crackpot Pilsner, Wide Open Red Ale and another IPA, the Hog Wild. A closeup of the pilsner is at left; a closeup of the red ale is at the right.
My favorites in the batch were the first two I sampled -- the pilsner and red ale. I found a curious carbonated texture to the kolsch and scotch, and I found the two IPAs more hoppy than I ordinarily like. But ... I run hot and cold with IPAs; when I visited Carolina Brewery a few weeks ago, that beer-maker's Wiggo IPA hit the spot, and I bought a six-pack. Every Wiggo I consumed after that ... also hit the spot. I was happy again.
I did not leave Aviator with that sensation after tasting the Transatlantic or Hog Wild.
Among the handful of photos I took of the smokehouse interior, I liked the one above the best. Below is a look at almost the full bar area, where I sat. A closeup of the tap handles is shown in the second photo below.
Above: A look at the full beer menu at the restaurant.
Red brick is a popular facade of this section of the town's merchants' district. Above is the front of Aviator's bottle shop, yet another enterprise of the Aviator brand. The bottle shop, across Stewart Street from the Smokehouse at 601 E. Broad St., sells not only Aviator products, but other brews from elsewhere in the state and across the country. Below is a long look at the building where the smokehouse is located, with the entrance being at the far end. I'm going to presume the shops in this section of Broad Street were part of the original Varina town between it merged with Fuquay.
Above: The front of the taphouse, which I originally thought was the actual brewery.
Above and below: Aviator has appealing art work with its brand -- both on the beers and its facility signage. Another example is the artwork shown in the photo leading off the post.
Above: Inside Aviator Smokehouse, I'm looking through a tall, vertical window across Stewart Street to the Aviator Bottle Shop.