Durham, is that you?

The vibe is palpable. Durham, NC feels young again. Take a walk through Durham’s downtown core – it’s crackling with energy from investment and growth. PIC and I spent a few days in Durham toward the end of February. We checked out the newest eateries and watering holes, as well as some long-time favorites. See a preview of articles/reviews to come here. We also went to the Bull City Food & Beer Experience.

Bull City Food & Beer Experience

Not familiar with the city’s “Bull City” moniker? It dates back to 1865 when tobacco producer J.R. Green adopted a bull to identify his brand of tobacco after seeing a bull’s head on a jar of Coleman’s Durham mustard. His product: Bull Durham Smoking Tobacco.

Durham Bull

The Food & Beer Experience was held at the DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center). Opened on the edge of downtown and hosting world-class entertainment since 2008, DPAC, is a gorgeous building by day or night.

Image: dpacnc.com

We were treated like VIPs (thanks Johanna Kramer and event organizers). In addition to the swag bags everyone in attendance got, we had access to the main floor VIP lounge, where more intimate seating, food by Durham Catering Company & rare beer and specialty spirit samples were available. We were also able to sit in the first four rows of theater seating – a definite plus during the Keynote presentation.

Bull City Food & Beer Experience

DPAC totally worked as a venue for this sold out event. Mipso (http://www.mipsomusic.com/site/) playing live on the theater stage could be heard and seen throughout the center on flat screens and speakers. To my surprise, people were allowed into the theater with food and beer if they wanted to take a break and sit down.

“. . . partners DPAC, Sam’s Quik Shop, & Tyler’s Restaurant & Taproom have collaborated in creating a true Bull City Experience with a national twist! The Bull City Food & Beer Experience is the pairing & sampling of local food showcasing 20 Durham restaurants, unbelievable beer from 20 North Carolina Breweries in addition to another 30+ craft and specialty import breweries, and guest speaking appearances by the owners of three of the premier craft breweries in the United States, Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada), Kim Jordan (New Belgium) and Dale Katechis (Oskar Blues) . . .!”

“This event is a fundraising event to benefit the ELLERBE CREEK WATERSHED ASSOCIATION (http://www.ellerbecreek.org/).”

Mezzanines were abuzz with beer and food talk and sampling. Each table hosted a local restaurant and a brewery. It looks crowded, and it was, but it was still pretty easy to get to whatever table you wanted to get to.

Bull City Food & Beer Experience



Bull City Food & Beer Experience


Bull City Food & Beer Experience


Bull City Food & Beer Experience

Keynote speakers for the event, as mentioned above were Dale Katechis (Oskar Blues), Kim Jordan (New Belgium) and Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada).

Bull City Food & Beer Experience
L-R: Dale Katechis (Oskar Blues), Kim Jordan (New Belgium) and Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada).

They spoke and then answered questions from the moderator and audience for 30 to 45 minutes. Below are some of my favorite moments (If you have trouble seeing the video below, click here).

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Added highlight for me was the opportunity to speak individually to Ken Grossman,, Kim Jordan, and Dale Katechis. I’m sure they will each remember me because as I introduced myself, I slipped my business card into their hand.

Judging how smoothly this first ever Bull City Food & Beer Experience went and how well it was received, it may well become North Carolina’s signature beer event. As a wine drinker, I came away liking beer.

To attend this event, you need to be 21 or older.