Duck? Rabbit? You decide 

North Carolina’s Tiny Upstart Coming to Georgia

Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery owner and brewmaster Paul Philippon answers the phone when you ring his microbrewery in Farmville, NC, outside Greenville. “Straight to the top,” I say. “Well, it’s not that far from the bottom to the top,” Philippon replies. He started Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery less than 4 years ago with just himself and a brewer, and they remain the only full-time employees, along with one sales representative. Philippon is looking to add to that number, however, as the popularity of his line of dark beers grows. “We had 35% growth in 2007, which I am excited about, but we don’t want to explode,” he said. "We are trying to keep the growth controlled.” Currently, Duck-Rabbit’s beers are distributed in North Carolina, South Carolina, and East Tennessee.

Fortunately for Georgia beer lovers, the next target area in Duck-Rabbit’s gradual world domination plans is Georgia. Philippon hopes to be distributing here by the end of February, pending the usual paperwork requirements. Billing itself as “The Dark Beer Specialist,” Duck-Rabbit brews 4 year-round beers and 4 high-gravity seasonals, all of them dark ales. Their flagship brew and best seller is the milk stout, a traditional style that uses added lactose (milk sugar) to temper the bitterness imparted by the roasted malts. The upstart brewery’s stout brought home a bronze medal at the 2006 Great American Beer Festival (GABF). They also brew a robust, American-style porter, an American brown ale loaded with hops and 7 varieties of malt, and an amber ale with a complex caramel malt profile.

Duck-Rabbit’s regular offerings have been well received in the beer geek community, with three of the four earning B+ ratings at Beer Advocate, where A’s are rare indeed. Philadelphia beer writer Jack Curtin found the porter to be “very nice drinking,” and it also was selected as one of the top 3 North Carolina beers in the Triangle’s Independent weekly in 2005.

The seasonals include an English-style barleywine, a Baltic porter, the Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, and the Rabid Duck Russian Imperial Stout. The Baltic porter is ranked number one in the world for the style at RateBeer.com, an amazing accomplishment in a highly competitive field. Philippon expects that the barleywine will be the first seasonal to arrive in Georgia, but he plans to have the whole line available here. Last year he brewed over 2,300 bbl., but has capacity at the brewery for up to 8,000 bbl. a year, so there is plenty of room for expansion.

So what’s up with the crazy name and logo? Turns out that Philippon was a philosophy professor in his former life and the logo is from a philosophy book by Ludwig Wittgenstein illustrating the idea that the same object can appear to be two different things when observed with a different perspective. Seems that any way you look at Duck-Rabbit, it’s good beer. In the spring, look for the Wee Heavy with a picture of the duck wearing a tam on his head. Or is that a rabbit wearing a tam on his nose? Never mind.

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