Date : August 21st, 2009
Olde Hickory Tap Room
Attendees : Me, Matt Cabe, Lindsey
Hickory NC is kind of the bridge city between the Mountains and the more urbanized part of the Piedmont (Winston-Salem and east). Surprisingly despite being arguably the center of the area it didn't have either a famous BBQ place or a decent brewery (that I knew of... more on that in a minute) at the time. So the plan was to hit up Catawba Valley Brewing in Morganton and Carolina Bar-B-Q in Statesville, then a game in Hickory. Thing is Catawba Valley brewing has limited hours for visiting and Driving Harper did not agree with what Planning Harper thought. Catawba was scrapped and instead I went to a "little brewpub" in downtown Hickory.
First up though was the BBQ. This fairly nondescript place surrounded by a parking lot was possibly the best BBQ I had during my trip.
Most NC BBQ either doesn't have any smoked and browned skin (called "outside brown") or has a limited amount. Even those that really appreciate that good part can't have that much because there's a lot more inside of a pig than outside. So a lot of it comes down to the raw flavor of the cue and frankly this one was great. With the touch of the brown and a flavorful sauce it made for some of the best eating of the summer. The slaw was very good as well. Not over chopped, so there was still a bit of fresh flavor to it. Of course nothing is perfect and the hushpuppies were the big ball type that aren't my favorite, but this is a place that I've aimed to hit whenever I have the chance (though given that I don't ever have a reason to go to Stateville the chances are few and far between).
From there I went to Hickory and stopped at the Olde Hickory Tap Room. I knew little about this place as their beer was not available around where I'm from and they wouldn't start bottling until the end of that year. So it was a pleasant surprise to stop in and find a couple of well brewed beers in house. Now it's all over the place and deservedly so.
After a couple of highlights like that it would be tough for the game to keep up the high and what do you know, it didn't. It's a ballpark in a parking lot with your standard beers and minor league hijinks.
It's a pretty nice place for an A-ball team but it is kind of sanitized with not a lot of local flavor, quirks, or small-time charm. Still - you get a dog and a brew and baseball for cheap so it can't be that bad.
All in all a nice little penultimate trip.