Raise a glass to TWS 2016

By Summer Higdon, North Carolina Chapter of The Wildlife Society

A flight of Raleigh-brewed beers at Raleigh Brewing Company

The Wildlife Society’s Annual Conference is an excellent opportunity for wildlife professionals in all stages of their career to learn through contributed papers, symposia, workshops, and more. But one of the most valuable aspects of such a large-scale event is the opportunity to meet and build meaningful relationships with other professionals and students in the field. Networking is a conference constant and if you’re like me, many of the links in your network were forged and strengthened over a cold beer.

A wall of beer taps at Raleigh Beer Garden. ©Colleen Olfenbuttel

A wall of beer taps at Raleigh Beer Garden. ©Colleen Olfenbuttel

The craft brewery movement gained momentum across the U.S. in the 1990s and Carolina brewers didn’t hesitate to join the movement. In August 2005, the state legislature responded to the grassroots “Pop the Cap” movement and passed a bill increasing the legal maximum ABV for alcohol producers from 6% to 15%. Craft brewers jumped at the opportunity to experiment with a broader variety of beers and beer lovers responded. Now North Carolina boasts more breweries than any other southern state, and the craft beer scene attracts tourists and benefits local economies across the state. Luckily for conference attendees, there are numerous local breweries located within walking distance of the convention center.

Trophy Brewing and Pizza Company was built on a humble three-barrel brew system still in use today. Grab a slice of the best pizza in town to go with your unique Trophy draft. Just around the corner, you’ll find Crank Arm Brewing with a brew crew as passionate about fitness as they are beer. Drop by Crank Arm for one of their unfiltered brews or to participate in a cycling, yoga or other fitness event. Don’t expect a food menu, but feel free to order in! If you’re interested in a cold one from a more distant North Carolina brewery, just swing by the world’s largest selection of beer on tap: our own Raleigh Beer Garden. Serving up a delicious, diverse food menu, 144 NC beers, and more than 200 beers from around the world (yes—all on tap!), you’re sure to find that perfect brew. Overwhelmed by the selection? Try Red Oak’s Hummin’Bird Lager; the beer brings attention to North Carolina’s hummingbirds and the Whitsett brewery helps create hummer habitat and maintain feeders.

The Hummin’Bird Helles Golden Munich Lager fosters awareness about North Carolina’s hummingbirds. ©Red Oak Brewery

The Hummin’Bird Helles Golden Munich Lager fosters awareness about North Carolina’s hummingbirds. ©Red Oak Brewery

Raleigh isn’t the only craft beer hub in North Carolina. If you are planning on exploring the state before or after the conference, take the time to experience uniquely North Carolina brews in Charlotte, Greensboro and Durham. True craft beer fanatics won’t miss Asheville, a four-time “Beer City USA” winner and the U.S. city with the highest number of breweries per capita and numerous award-winning craft beers.

If you’re in North Carolina, there is a high-quality, locally brewed beer near you. During the upcoming Annual Conference, be sure to have a taste while connecting and reconnecting with other professionals. Cheers!