It’s the second Saturday of the month and you find yourself hungover, sitting at the breakfast table, wondering what you’ll get into today. Perhaps you have some friends visiting from out of town or you are looking to show a family member around the local Raleigh scene? Maybe you are just a beer drinking, buzz loving socialite looking for a good deal on something fun to do? Regardless of your motivation, I suggest you make it a point to drag yourself out of bed before noon on a 2nd Saturday and head down to the for the free tour. Trust me, you will not regret waking up “early” on a Saturday for this one! Just head towards downtown Raleigh on Atlantic Avenue until you reach the brewery off of Wicker Drive (just before the Waste Management recycling center).
Between the masses of people and the surplus U.S. Army vehicles parked outside the facility, you really can’t miss this place. It is the largest brewery that we have toured in the Triangle thus far, and no doubt the most popular. My best guess is that there were 300-500 people waiting out in front of the brewery for the Saturday tour when we arrived. Although the line appears long, they move people into the building for beer and tours fairly quick. I am guessing that because of this popularity, they had to stop giving out free samples at some point. Don’t fret though, you only have to pay $1 for each beer that you drink on the tour. If you decide you like their beer, they have a tap room that sells retail pints, growlers, and kegs just upstairs from the main brewery floor.
As for the tour, the staff members all give an excellent walk through of the brewery, accompanied by a very informative talk about the Big Boss brewing process. The tours begin at 2pm, but if you get stuck in the long line out front, it is not a problem. They break everyone out into smaller groups (about 50 people per group) and take each through the tour separately at 15 minute intervals. It takes about 30 minutes to complete the tour, so as always, make sure you have a full glass of beer before your group starts. While on the tour, we took the liberty to look over everything we could inside and out, which was welcomed by the brewery staff. I have listed some helpful hints below to make sure you get the most out of your brewery tour experience:
- Show up about 15-20 min before 2 so that you aren’t in the back of the line.
- Bring your ID and at least $3 cash for purchasing samples.
- When you finish your tour, go sit in the back of the U.S. Army truck at the loading dock. Trust me!
- Hungry? Not a problem, they have food vendors set up in the parking lot.
So what is all this Army truck talk about, right? Well that is one of the rather unique portions of the Big Boss tour that you definitely don’t want to miss out on. After you have achieved a nice early afternoon beer buzz, the good people who staff this brewery have been known to take their patrons on a good old fashioned tailgate ride in a real U.S. Army truck! There is no specific agenda for the truck ride, but it is a pretty cool part of the tour.
This is a fantastic brewery tour experience, but it has become rather popular amongst Raleigh locals. Be prepared for a friendly crowd and maybe a little standing in line, but rest assured that it is a wonderful Saturday activity!