Blowing Rock Ale House opens

By Jeff Eason (

Article Published: Jun. 27, 2013 | Modified: Jun. 27, 2013
Blowing Rock Ale House opens

Jim McDowell purchases the first pint of beer from bartender Nick McFarlane at the Blowing Rock
Ale House and Inn Tuesday.

Photo by Jeff Eason

Fun, food and brews are on tap in Blowing Rock.

The new Blowing Rock Ale House and Inn opened this week at the former site of the Maple Lodge, on Sunset Drive.

The new restaurant and inn is owned by Best Cellar owners Lisa Stripling and Rob Dyer, and the brewery will be run by Blowing Rock Brewing Company owners Todd Rice, Jeff Walker and John Hastings.

The brewmaster for the new establishment is Roy Hodge.

“We met Roy in 2009 and he joined the Blowing Rock Brewing Company in 2012,” said Rice, during a soft opening for the new ale house on Monday evening.

The ale house and restaurant officially opened for business on Tuesday and will have its grand opening today.

“I’m originally from Texas, but I spent 35 years in Alaska,” Hodge said. “I got started in the brewing business there. This is the seventh brewery that I’ve started from the ground up.”

Currently, Blowing Rock Ale beers are being made in Lenoir under the direction of the Blowing Rock Brewing Company. According to Rice, the brewery in Blowing Rock will be producing its own beer in approximately six weeks.

Dyer and Stripling have spent more than half a year remodeling the old Maple Lodge, and their hard work and dedication has paid off with a comfortable and unique dining area, state-of-the-art kitchen, relaxing fireplace room and unique guest rooms.

The centerpiece of the dining room is a copper-topped table that can seat eight people comfortably. The copper table was designed and created by Gaines Kiker, a metalsmith and jewelry maker in Blowing Rock.

The menu for the Blowing Rock Ale House was created by chef team Erick and Jenny Virt, graduates of the Texas Culinary Academy and Le Cordon Bleu. The emphasis of the menu is on seasonal, local and organic ingredients and daily specials.

Each day, the Virts will prepare a special oyster dish that can be purchased by the dozen or half dozen. For Monday’s soft opening, oysters were roasted on the half shell with a tequila-lime sauce and sage.
The appetizer menu also includes four flavors of wings, a fried green tomato stack with local goat cheese, an artisinal cheese board and beef tenderloin mini-tacos.

The restaurant also offers salads and sandwiches, such as the bison burger, Southern fried chicken sandwich, vegetarian press and open-faced, stout-braised beef short rib sandwich.

Currently, the ale house is offering six of its brews on tap: the Extra Special Bitter (ESB), Double IPA, Scottish Ale, Chocolate Porter, Country Ale and Summer Ale. Additionally, two “guest taps” are being offered: General Lenoir’s Old Ale from Howard Brewing Company in Lenoir and Cream Ale from the Blind Squirrel Brewery in Plumtree.

The Blowing Rock Ale House and Inn is open six days a week for lunch and dinner and opens at 11 a.m.

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