Oh how I love the summer! Bodybuilding competitions are over for a few months, the weather is divine, and so many foods to eat and drinks to drink. My latest adventure took me to the mountains of Burke County, North Carolina, where there’s beer, whiskey, and barbecue as far as the eye can see.
The first pitstop was JD’s Smokehouse for some famous barbecue in the town of Rutherford College. JD’s specialties are hardwood-smoked meat plates and myriad side dishes including such delights as Brunswick stew, jalapeño cheese grits, and sweet potato crunch.
All of the meats come unsauced so that you can sauce them yourself with the variety of sauce choices on the table. I of course selected the spiciest offering to jazz up my chicken and pork. (The picture above was taken pre-sauce.) For my sides I went with my favorite classics: baked beans and macaroni & cheese. I was not disappointed!
After some adventures (which I’ll write another post about), it was off to the very hip root + vine for drinks and dinner. I made an excellent decision in choosing the below golden stunner for my drink order – it was “A Very Merry Un-Birthday to You” IPA from Fonta Flora. First of all, the name. Duh. And secondly, it was DELICIOUS. I think I had three more throughout the weekend because I loved it so much, and I even ended up purchasing two growlers of it. One to share with friends, and one for me!
After dinner, we headed to Fonta Flora brewery (the home of the amazing beer above) to check out their other offerings. I couldn’t bear to order anything else but my new favorite IPA, but some others I was with ordered beer flights. Flights are always a great way to get a lay of the land at a new brewery.
The following day, we switched gears a little bit and headed to Blue Ridge Distilling, where they make Defiant single malt whiskey. I’m not usually a whiskey person (I think it tastes like crayons), but I was extremely impressed by this one. It was drinkable, smooth, and entirely un-crayon-y.
Defiant is different because it’s not aged long – only 60 days – because instead of using oak barrels, they infuse the whiskey with flavor by including American white oak spirals (peep one in the lower left corner of the photo above). It only takes 60 days for the whiskey to displace the oxygen space in the oak, meaning it’s been fully infused.
Tim Ferris, co-founder of Blue Ridge Distilling gave us a great tour of the place, walking us through the process of whiskey-making, and even let us sample a new rye whiskey they’re developing which isn’t yet on the market.
Want to go on a tour like this? You’re in luck, because Burke County offers Beer, BBQ, and Whiskey Trolley Tours to the public! Tours last six hours (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and typically cost $45 per ticket. Visit www.DiscoverBurkeCounty.com or call 888-462-2921 to book!
Their websites are listed below if you’d like to check out the places I visited while in Burke County, NC. Happy food babyin’!
- JD’s Smokehouse in Rutherford College, NC
- root + vine in Morganton, NC
- Fonta Flora Brewery in Morganton, NC
- Blue Ridge Distilling in Bostic, NC
Comments & Reviews
Love me some bbq. This place looks and sounds amazing.Thank you for sharing.
That sounds like a yummy way to spend a day. I don;t drink anymore but that barbecue sounds to die for!
Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy says
I bet those beans and that mac and cheese were amazing. I have an actually baby in my belly at the moment, and now we are craving all of this.
Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says
Oh yeah, that is totally what I would have ordered, too! NOMS.
Sounds like an amazing tour, I would have loved the food part the most as it sounded so nice, I am not a beer or whiskey drinker but am sure my husband would have helped me out x
Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says
JD’s Smokehouse sounds awesome. You just can’t get southern bbq up here in the northeast!
Kayla Manoe says
Love! This looks super fun! Seeing how the whisky is made would be awesome! I recently went on a wine tour and it was really cool!
Amanda Love says
Barbecue and whiskey! What could be a better combination than that. I’m sure a lot of people especially the guys would enjoy joining a tour such as this! It’s packed of the things that they love most and it’s really fun!
Imogen Clegg says
This looks so good! I love tours like that, and the food looks great too!
Chrishelle Ebner says
I would love to go on a food tour. I think I have found a get away for my husband and me. The food look amazing, BBQ & beer, it doesn’t get any better.
lily kate says
Omg this was not the post to read when I’m hungry! That pulled pork looks amazing, wow. I agree that whisky tastes like crayons haha!
lily kate x
Doesn’t it though? I love pulled pork, so reading this post is making me especially hungry.
This looks like a really fun and interesting tour.
I am absolutely starving! It is early in the morning and I’m telling you right now if I had that restaurant here I would be going there right now! Deafly looks absolutely sinful!
Sarah Bailey says
I would totally join you (and it’s quite late at night here right now) lol x
Rhian Westbury says
I bet you were looking forward to this after bodybuilding. I love steakhouses x
April Hammond says
Looks like you had a delicious time! I always love to go for a good BBQ. My husband would love some of those beers and other drinks. We miss all the nice food experiences in NC (we used to live in Fayetteville).
What a fun tour for foodies. I love barbecue and I would love to visit JD’s Smokehouse. The jalapeno cheese grits are calling my name.
If I ever get to North Carolina, I am definitely checking out these places! The distillery looks so neat!
Paula Schuck says
This is a great post. Am I the only one who thinks “Food Baby” is a phrase that should be replaced? Like you really shouldn’t think about the implications of that common reference. LOL
Rena McDaniel says
Burke County is fairly close to my home, I dont know how I have never visited it. Sounds Like it is a hidden gem.
Melanie Edjourian says
What a brilliant tour anything that involves good food gets my attention.
Annemarie LeBlanc says
Me too! I enjoy good food and good wine. Nothing beats the feeling of a happy tummy! 🙂
Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle says
JD’s smokehouse looks amazing! We love pulled pork down here in my neck of the woods, so I know that would be the place for our family. Really, we’d be happy touring all of them, though. What a great time!
I have never tried wiskey but – crayons? YUCK! I will have to try this non-crayon variety. 🙂
Annemarie LeBlanc says
I have a good friend who lives in NC. I will ask her if she’s been to these places. I am positive she did! I have to ask her to take me to these awesome places when we get to meet up later this year.
I may plan a trip around this foodie paradise! Love that little copper pig 🙂
samantha rickelton says
This looks like my kind of placed – we’ve taken a distillery tour in the Lakes, UK and loved it. Really interesting (plus I love the tasting part)
Terri Beavers says
I’d have such a blast on a tour like this. I’m sure I’d enjoy the BBQ at JD’s Smokehouse and it would be well enjoyed.
Sarah Bailey says
Oh wow what an amazing sounding place – I would totally love to try that food! x
Jenn @ EngineerMommy says
That smokehouse looks amazing. The ambience is great and the food looks delicious. I’m totally hungry now after seeing those pictures.
Here in Texas we get brisket, which is great but I grew up eating pork BBQ in GA. This looks like a wonderful place. I’d love to go if we get to NC!
Tiffany VanSickle says
I don’t drink but the food looks fantastic! 🙂
Sam B says
I would emigrate just for food!
It looks so delicious and just exactly what I am craving!
MJ. L says
Looks like a great tour! That BBQ looks amazing!
Looks like you had such a fun tour! Fonta Flora brewery reminded me of St. Augustine brewery which I visited last year. It was fun! Thanks for sharing about your tour with us!
Have a great long weekend!
Adriana Lopez-Martin says
Whiskey and BBQ I am in! This looks so good what a great experience thanks for sharing amiga xoxoxo
So glad that you are able to take a break from body competitions and take some time to relax and enjoy. Looks like you had a great tour…your photos are gorgeous!
Marcie W. says
Talk about an epic tour that has a little of everything. Some delicious barbecue and a cold beer practically defines summer for me.
Rosana @ Hot&CHilli Food and Travel Blog says
This sounds like a great day out – right up my street! R
Nancy L. says
My family and I are planning a trip to North Carolina during the month of August. The food looks amazing and we will have to check it out. We’ll be with the kids and will probably leave them behind (they’re 19 & 21yo) and go on the whiskey tour! So much fun! 🙂
My two favorite pastimes. The food looks killer!
BBQ is one of my family’s favorites! I’m sure we all would enjoy visiting JD’s Smokehouse as we continue to travel around the country.
BBQ is one of my family’s favorites! I am sure we would all enjoy visiting JD’s Smokehouse as we continue to travel around the country.
Neely (@Neelykins) says
This would be my husbands happy place! I will have to show him!
Amber NElson says
That looks to die for. I love eating food like this in the summertime!
What wonderful adventures you have! We also visited a distillery and it was fascinating.
Valerie Robinson says
BBQ and whiskey is the perfect combo. Everything looks so cool! Thanks for sharing this gem!
Looks like a great time! If I am ever in the area – will definitely have to check it out. Thank you for sharing this little secret.
Looks like a great destination and you shared some fabulous photos. JD’s Smokehouse looks delicious!
Elizabeth O. says
Going here during the summer would be the absolute best. It’s the perfect tour for couples or friends! I really like the idea of being able to enjoy good food and some drinks, especially since it’s the summer, it’s definitely well-deserved!
That’s that feel good soul food, hmmm! The distillery looks pretty cool, I’d give that whiskey a try.
Fashion and Style Police says
Oh wow. The food looks brilliant. Making me so hungry.
Kristen from The Road to Domestication says
One of our favorite things to do when we travel is try out BBQ joints! The one you found looks awesome!
Wow BBQ! Its one of the thing that i like most when travelling.
Bonnie @wemake7 says
That sounds like a great tour. The food looks pretty good especially the BBQ.
Linda Hobbis says
I could do with a tot of that whiskey and the chicken and pork plate sounds fab.
Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche says
I love that macaroni cheese is considered a side dish in the US haha, in the UK it’s usually a main course. But having it on the side of something else is my idea of heaven!
I love any dish that includes macaroni and cheese. It’s such a staple in American dishes that it’s just enjoyable in any form.
William Sweeney says
All of the food and drinks look amazing!! I love trying new places to eat when we travel, bbq is one of my favorites!
Karlaroundtheworld | Karla says
You’ve got a funny way of describing whiskey’s taste, haha! Although the name sure sounds strong and tempting, I might just get one for a special person. That pork and chicken plate just looks wicked tasty! You’ve shown some good places here, very nice.
Nicole Escat says
BBQ never fails to make me happy! I love this, I hope I can try this one of these days!
this looks like an amazing place. food and drinks are always a great combination
This food looks delicious. I love the name of the restaurant. I would totally do a tour of the smokehouse and eat all the goodies along the way.
All of these food choices look so good and so delectable. I love the summertime for sampling great foods too.
Rose Sahetapy says
Food and drink tour like this has always been my favourite tour. The chicken and pork bbq look so delicious. I love your way of writing.
Oh how fun. This place looks like it’s really great, would love to visit sometime.
Seattle Travel Blogger says
This looks like a fun place to visit.
Your pictures are very charming.
Wendy @ ABCs and Garden Peas says
A food and drink tour sounds right up my alley! I would love to do one soon.
I was born and raised in NC, until we moved to FL when I was 16. NC BBQ is something I dearly miss. It’s always the first and the last meal I get when visiting.
Kelly Hutchinson says
I sure do love a good BBQ! I think the whiskey tour would be super interesting.
Shauna Torres says
Wow, how fun. I love a great brewery because it gives me a push to step outside my norm. LOL. Sounds like you did the same. Thanks for sharing
Tanya Brannan says
I absolutely love BBQ and I love how these are unsauced! Mac n cheese Is my all time favourite too x
Helen Costello says
Aah my maiden name was Burke so I feel I should attend one of these tours. These tours sound incredible!
It’s hard to find a great bbq place. Looks like you hit the jackpot. This place looks delicious
Nicole Haas Etolen says
Looks like a very fun place to eat. Our family really enjoyed BBQ parties, I think they will surely like to go there.
Looks like some amazing places to visit. I had to crack up at your description of whiskey as “crayon-y.” I’ve never had it outside of a Whiskey sour, but suspect I’d be rather finicky over brand. It’s always nice when you find one you like.
Winona Rogers says
All I can say is I miss North Carolina Barbecue. My family is from there we always went to Lexington Barbecue.
What a great way to spend the day! This food looks delicious, great photos.
My husband and I have been to our fare share of breweries, and this one looks great. Sound like you had a lot of fun there too!
Ryan Escat says
I like the chicken and pork plate. The place sounds really nice for a family dinner.
Christy Garrett says
The food looks so good. I love BBQ but NC BBQ is so different than what I was used to. In TX, the BBQ is slathered with tasty bbq sauce.
This looks like a cool place to tour. Looks like you had a great time.
Dawn gibson-thigpen says
oh this looks like such a cool spot. i always like that all of the food looks really fresh.
Aimee Smith says
I love bbq! I so wish I could head there for dinner right now. Looks delicious!
Dawn Lopez says
The BBQ looks so completely delicious! I love that you can choose your own sauces. The picture looks so yummy that I can only imagine how much better it is in real life. 😉
I love the idea of making your own choice of sauces at JD’s Smokehouse. Great adventure with amazing foodtrip indeed. 🙂
OOh this sounds just amazing, though I am not too sure which sauces I would choose x
Rachael Phillips says
now this looks like my kind of place – except for the whiskey, I can’t stomach that after getting drunk on it at 17 ha! But the rest (and maybe a vino or 3) and it’s perfect
These sounds a great way to spend the day, not sure what I would choose though!
Ivan Jose says
Now, I’m extremely hungry! What a great way to spend the day. Summer is indeed the best, a great time for adventures and the outdoors.
That’s indeed a nice way to spend a day especially for those who drink alcohol.
I live in North Carolina and haven’t visited these places before. They look fun! Thanks for sharing.
I really enjoy brewery and distillery tours – I think they are just so interesting from a scientific standpoint! And, there is also usually some sampling going on…..
What a great way to spend the day. I haven’t been to North Carolina. The food part is the most amazing tour 😉
Autumn Reo says
This looks like so much fun! You and I definitely could go on the same vacay together. If I have a chance I’d love to do this!
One chicken and pork plate for me please! It looks delicious!
valmg @ Mom Knows It All says
It sounds like you had a great time. I have never cared for whiskey either, I don’t think it tastes like crayons but can’t say for sure exactly what it is I don’t like about it. Maybe the Defiant would be more to my liking.
Susan Smith says
It sounds like you had a great time. I have never cared for whiskey, a little too strong for me but I love BBQ.
Janeane Davis says
I am not a whiskey drinker. However, I enjoyed reading the story of the making of this whiskey and really would like to try it.
Jacqui Paterson (@Jax2000) says
I’d do ALL of this! Love whiskey, love proper American BBQ food, and would love to visit the Carolinas. x