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Steel String Brewery | Hilliard

Steel String Brewery | Hilliard
Christopher Hilliard

There’s a new brewery in Carrboro, North Carolina. Well, “new.” It’s been around for about a year now, but I’ve only just gotten around to visiting it.

Carrboro, for those unlucky enough not to know, is an eccentric, eclectic and close neighbor of Chapel Hill. So close, in fact, that if you were driving casually through downtown Chapel Hill, you could easily find yourself in Carrboro without realizing it.

The brewery is called Steel String and resides across South Greensboro Street from the Open Eye Café. The interior, as you can see from the photo, is like a hollowed out warehouse. Steel I-beams are visible in the ceiling. The floor, which looks like it used to be covered in tiles, is now barren and smoothed concrete. The walls are exposed brick. All of the brewing equipment is clearly visible behind walls of glass in the back. There’s a bookshelf in the corner with board games and card games. In fact, a group right behind me is playing Cards Against Humanity as I type this (and laughing hysterically). There’s plenty of seating, indoors and out, at least for a Thursday afternoon. You can even bring your dog if you like, as evidenced by the three or four canines currently enjoying themselves outside.

The brews I’ve tasted so far are quite good. The dark one pictured below is a black saison called Sue. It smacks of coffee with a hint of bittersweetness. The lighter beer is called Country Pie. On the menu board, they call it a sour ale with key lime, but I just heard the bartender tell someone it’s more of an ale with sour key lime. A subtle difference, I’m sure. The beer is not sour to the tongue, so I can taste why he might differentiate. And I’m about to go try another one, so hold on for a sec.


Okay, back. This one (below) is a wheat beer by the name Monkey Man. It’s citrus-y and smooth, and I definitely recommend it.


The ambiance is thoroughly relaxed and the patrons thoroughly diverse. I saw one guy doing homework at the bar and another with a straw hat, Amish beard, overalls and a beeper of all things (I kid you not). I already mentioned the group playing games, and there are men in ties and women in sundresses. There’s even free wi-fi, which is terrible because it’s enabling my Dominion obsession (Dominion is a card game). The posters on the doors advertise bands and upcoming concerts, which seems perfect for this setting. They could easily push around a few tables to make plenty of room for bands and concert goers.

Now, as the day gives way to night, and the full glasses are transmuted into empty ones, Steel String’s interior swells with people and buzzes boisterously. Everyone has a drink, or two, or a flight (why didn’t I get the flight??), and I find myself wanting to stay until close. That’s not really reasonable for a working man like myself, but I’m glad I came, and I’m sure I’ll be back.

If you’re ever in Chapel Hill, do yourself a favor and don’t miss this place.


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