5 Questions With… Kristie Nystedt, CEO of Raleigh Brewing Company

Triangle craft beer brand Raleigh Brewing Company hooks up with New Albion in an exhibit at the Smithsonian.
As told to Ayn-Monique Klahre

This Saturday, Raleigh Brewing Company will celebrate a unique milestone: Pouring beer at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC, last weekend as part of an exhibit on American food and drink. The honor came about as a part of their relationship with New Albion beer, one of the first American craft beers from the post-Prohibition era. We checked in with CEO Kristie Nystedt to learn how they hooked up and what this accolade means for the 7-year-old Triangle brand.

How was the event at the Smithsonian?

It was quite intimate, actually! They are doing an exhibit on the history of food in America, and decided to include craft beer as part of the exhibit. So they had the founding fathers of craft beer—including lots of people from California and Colorado like the folks from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Anchor Brewing Company, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and New Belgium Brewing—basically all the original people. The trendsetters.

The exhibit on craft beer takes up a big corner of the food history exhibit. It was really interesting to see what different tools were initially used, there’s not a lot of the stainless steel brewery equipment that people are using nowadays. It shows that you have to start somewhere I got to see Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada look at the exhibit for the first time, his eyes were wide open and it was really cool to see his work reflected there. At our event on Saturday we’ll have pictures and videos from the Smithsonian, and also speakers from New Albion. 

How did you get connected with them in the first place? 

Renee DeLuca, the president of New Albion, contacted us because they were looking for someone to contract brew the New Albion beer and bring the old recipes to life. We had agreed we would do that in the spring, and shortly thereafter,  the Smithsonian reached out to Renee, and we were involved because we’re making the beer. And then they said we could pour our own beer, too! We were so excited to be in the midst of all these founding fathers, and people were interested in tasting our beer, and we were having fun imagining what Jack McAuliffe, founder of New Albion and Renee’s father would have tasted. We have the original recipes, but now the scales and machines are different, so it will taste a little different. Now we’re talking about brewing additional beers, like a porter and a stout, for New Albion.

Is there a lot of cross-collaboration in the craft beer space?

Within the craft breweries it’s really very supportive and collaborative. We’re all comrades, we’re trying to raise each other up. We celebrate where craft beer came from and where it’s going. It’s still an exciting time, even though at the end of the day we’re competing for the same shelf space and tap handles, there’s really a spirit of camaraderie. 

What have you noticed in terms of beer trends?

Hoppy beers are always going to be a thing in craft beers, the IPAs are always a fan favorite, but I’m seeing a trend toward sour beers and session ales. Raleigh Brewing just released a session series this summer. We support the trend of lower ABVs so you can enjoy more than one beer! 

What are your own personal favorite beers?

As for my own favorites… I like a Belgian-style Beer, like our Hell Yes Ma’am Golden Ale. In the summer I like a saison, or in the winter I love our imperial stout, it’s very warming, even though it’s a higher ABV, it’s rich and smooth. 

We’re offering a first tasting of the New Albion beer this Saturday from 6-8 p.m. Come!