Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery

Last updated
The Top of the Hill Restaurant, Brewery & Distillery

Franklin Street Chapel Hill NC.jpg

Top of the Hill at the intersection of Franklin and Columbia Streets
Restaurant information
Established 1994
Current owner(s) Scott Maitland
Food type No distinct food style
Dress code Casual
Street address 100 E. Franklin Street
City Chapel Hill, NC
Website The Top of the Hill

Top of the Hill (TOPO) is a brewpub, restaurant, event space and distillery located in downtown Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The restaurant and brewery opened in 1994 at the intersection of Franklin and Columbia Streets adjacent to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It was one of the first microbreweries in the state. TOPO expanded in 2010, adding the Great Room event space and the Back Bar, which is home to North Carolina's first on-premise cask ale program.

Restaurant single establishment which prepares and serves food

A restaurant, or an eatery, is a business which prepares and serves food and drinks to customers in exchange for money. Meals are generally served and eaten on the premises, but many restaurants also offer take-out and food delivery services, and some offer only take-out and delivery. Restaurants vary greatly in appearance and offerings, including a wide variety of cuisines and service models ranging from inexpensive fast food restaurants and cafeterias to mid-priced family restaurants, to high-priced luxury establishments.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina town in Orange County, North Carolina, United States

Chapel Hill is a town in Orange, Chatham, and Durham counties in the U.S. state of North Carolina. Its population was 57,233 in the 2010 census, making Chapel Hill the 15th-largest city in the state. Chapel Hill, Durham, and the state capital, Raleigh, make up the corners of the Research Triangle, with a total population of 1,998,808.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill public research university in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), also known as UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, or simply Carolina is a public research university in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It is the flagship of the 17 campuses of the University of North Carolina system. After being chartered in 1789, the university first began enrolling students in 1795, which also allows it to be one of three schools to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States. Among the claimants, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the only one to have held classes and graduated students as a public university in the eighteenth century.


TOPO Distillery opened in 2012 and produces the only 100% locally-sourced and USDA certified organic spirits in the deep South: TOPO Organic Vodka, TOPO Organic Piedmont Gin and TOPO Moonshine Carolina Whiskey. All three organic spirits are made with 100% organic Carolina soft red winter wheat grown less than 100 miles from the distillery. The distillery is also located on Franklin Street, three blocks south in the former printing press room of the Chapel Hill News.


Top of the Hill was founded in 1994 by Scott Maitland, then a law student studying at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Maitland became interested in an under-construction building at the intersection of Franklin and Columbia Streets after learning that a national restaurant chain, wanted to open a new location there. Fearing what he perceived as a potential stifling of Chapel Hill’s local food and drink culture by corporate establishment, he partnered with Daniel Bradford, the editor of All About Beer Magazine, and John Withey, an experienced English brewer, to open a microbrewery. [1]

Microbrewery brewery that produces small amounts of beer

A microbrewery or craft brewery is a brewery that produces small amounts of beer, typically much smaller than large-scale corporate breweries, and is independently owned. Such breweries are generally characterized by their emphasis on quality, flavor and brewing technique.

Top of the Hill made additions to its original location in 2010, building the TOPO Great Room complex and TOPO Back Bar in an adjoining space formerly occupied by the Carolina Theater. [2] In 2012, Top of the Hill opened their own organic spirits distillery three blocks south of the brewery, branding it TOPO. [3]



TOPO Restaurant and Brewery overlooks downtown Chapel Hill and has extensive space for outdoor dining. [4] The lunch, afternoon, and dinner menus feature a mix of Southern bistro fare. [5] Local dining guides such as the Daily Tar Heel and the Independent Weekly continually award TOPO top dining and visiting honors such as the “Best Place to Watch ACC Basketball” as well as the “Best Outdoor Dining in Orange/Chatham County” (2009, 2010) and “Best Business Lunch” (2007) awards. [6]

Orange County, North Carolina County in the United States

Orange County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 133,801. Its county seat is Hillsborough.

Chatham County, North Carolina County in the United States

Chatham County is a county located in the Piedmont area of the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 63,505. Its county seat is Pittsboro.


Top of the Hill’s brewery primarily specializes in English style ales, though it also makes a number of beers in other styles, including American lagers, wheat beers, Indian pale ales and stouts, many of which are named after famous Chapel Hill residents and landmarks. [7] In 2004, Top of the Hill began canning beers to be sold off-site, making it the first microbrewery in North Carolina to do so. [1] As the largest purchaser of alcohol in North Carolina, customers at Top of the Hill drink an average of sixty kegs of beer per week, making it one of the largest brewpubs in the United States in terms of volume of beer sold on site per square foot. [4] The brewery is also home to the first cask ale program in the American south. [1] [8]

American lager

American lager or North American lager is pale lager that is produced in the United States. The pale lager-style beer originated in Europe in the mid-19th century, and moved to the USA with German immigrants. As a general trend outside of Bavaria and the Czech Republic where the beers may be firmly hopped, pale lager developed as a modestly hopped beer, and sometimes used adjuncts such as rice or corn – and this was also true in the US.

Stout dark beer

Stout is a dark beer. There are a number of variations including Baltic porter, milk stout, and imperial stout; the most common variation is dry stout, exemplified by Guinness Draught, the world's best selling stout. Stout is a top-fermented beer.

Cask ale

Cask ale or cask-conditioned beer is unfiltered and unpasteurised beer which is conditioned and served from a cask without additional nitrogen or carbon dioxide pressure. Cask ale is also sometimes referred to as real ale in the United Kingdom, a term coined by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), often now extended to cover bottle-conditioned beer as well.

The beer brewed by Top of the Hill has earned top honors, including platinum, gold, silver and bronze medals at the Carolinas Championship of Beer. Internationally, Top of the Hill has won gold and silver medals at the World Beer Championships, and several of its beers have been declared among the world’s best by the Beverage Tasting Institute.

Great Room and Back Bar

Back Bar is styled like a traditional bar or pub. [2] The menu of the Back Bar consists of foods commonly served at sports bars, and is also where Top of the Hill’s cask ale is served. Back Bar can also be used as an event space, either alone or in combination with the adjoining TOPO Great Room. The Great Room, is used for large events such as weddings and Greek life, as well as public occasions such as university events, corporate workshops, nationally known performers and international touring acts such as the National Theatre of Scotland. [9]


In lieu of expanding the micro-canning operation into a commercial brewery, Top of the Hill opened an organic distillery in 2012, branding it TOPO. It produces vodka, whiskey, and gin which are distributed in seven states. The distillery, which uses a fifth-generation still and copper kettle sources its organic ingredients from an organic wheat farm in Scotland Neck, North Carolina. Southern Wine and Spirits distributes the spirits in North Carolina, Mississippi, and South Carolina. The spirits are also available in Missouri, Maryland, Washington DC and Delaware.

Reputation within Chapel Hill

In Spring 2012, seniors at UNC Chapel Hill voted proprietor Scott Maitland, also an adjunct professor at the Kenan-Flagler Business School, to present "The Last Lecture" at UNC Chapel Hill, signifying Top of the Hill's popularity and importance to both the school and Chapel Hill. [10]

Related Research Articles

Carrboro, North Carolina Town in North Carolina, United States

Carrboro is a town in Orange County in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The population was 19,582 at the 2010 census. The town, which is part of the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill combined statistical area, was named after North Carolina industrialist Julian Shakespeare Carr.

Blue Point Brewing Company is a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev located on Long Island, in Patchogue, New York. The brewery offers a variety of year-round beers, and several seasonal brews, as well as a 'tasting room' which is open to the public on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The brewery hosts an annual Cask Ale Festival, concerts and other events in the brew yard.

Mill Street Brewery brewery in Scarborough, Toronto, Canada

Mill Street Brewery is a brewery in Toronto, Ontario, Canada that is a part of Anheuser–Busch InBev and named after Mill Street where it is located. During its first decade of operation, as an independent brewer, Mill Street won several awards including Golden Tap Awards for Best Toronto Microbrewery ('04-'08) and Best Toronto Beer, and was named "Canadian Brewery of the Year" at the Canadian Brewing Awards in 2007, 2008, and 2009. It was purchased in 2015 by Canadian brewer Labatt Brewing Company, which in turn is owned by the global brewing giant Anheuser–Busch InBev.

Forest Orion "Mick" Mixon III is the play-by-play radio voice announcer for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League. Mixon took this position during the 2005 football season, replacing Bill Rosinski. He was formerly a color analyst for the Tar Heel Sports Network, working alongside former "Voice of the Tar Heels," play-by-play announcer Woody Durham, beginning in 1989.

Woody Durham former UNC radio sports announcer

Woody Lombardi Durham was an American play-by-play radio announcer for the North Carolina Tar Heels football and men’s basketball programs from 1971 to 2011.

Chapel Hill Transit

Chapel Hill Transit operates public bus and van transportation services within the contiguous municipalities of Chapel Hill and Carrboro and the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the southeast corner of Orange County in the Research Triangle metropolitan region of North Carolina. Chapel Hill Transit operates its fixed route system fare free due to a contractual agreement with the two towns and the university to share annual operating and capital costs.

Rameses (mascot)

Rameses is the ram mascot of the North Carolina Tar Heels. Three versions of Rameses appear at UNC sporting events. One is a member of the UNC cheerleading team in an anthropomorphic ram costume; the second is also an anthropomorphic ram costume, and the third is a live Dorset Horn sheep named Rameses who attends Carolina football games with his horns painted Carolina blue.

The Golden Tap Awards (GTAs) is an annual beer awards event held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The awards are sponsored and presented by The Bar Towel, a website and forum dedicated to the discussion and promotion of Toronto's craft and microbrew beer scene.

Internationalist Books

Internationalist Books and Community Center, located in Carrboro, North Carolina, was a volunteer operated infoshop, non-profit collective, and community center for local activists. The store name was a reference to the political philosophy of internationalism. Often, the center was called "The Internationalist" or merely "Eye Books" by its volunteers, members, and supporters.

Franklin Street (Chapel Hill)

Franklin Street is a prominent thoroughfare in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Historic Franklin Street is considered the center of social life for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as the town of Chapel Hill.

This article is about the food and drink of Manchester.

North Carolina Tar Heels baseball

The North Carolina Tar Heels baseball team, commonly referred to as Carolina, represents the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in NCAA Division I college baseball. They compete in the Coastal Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tar Heels play their home games on campus at Boshamer Stadium, and are currently coached by Mike Fox.

Triangle Brewing Company

Triangle Brewing Co. (TBC) was a microbrewery owned and operated entirely by business partners Rick "the Brewer" Tufts and Andy "the Bloke" Miller who, in 2005, resettled in Durham, North Carolina from Connecticut. Andy Miller had extensive local restaurant management experience, and Rick Tufts apprenticed at Flying Fish Brewing Company and was an avid homebrewer long before founding a new brewery. TBC began selling beer on July 4, 2007 and was the only microbrewery in Durham. The arrival of a microbrewery in Durham is arguably part of the current downtown art, building, and cultural Renaissance.

Carolina Brewery

Carolina Brewery is a beer brewery and restaurant/pub located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with an additional location in Pittsboro, North Carolina. Carolina Brewery has drawn international attention for its handcrafted beers, all brewed in-house by Brewmaster Jon Connolly and his team. Founded in 1995, Carolina Brewery is the oldest brewery in the Triangle area. The restaurant serves contemporary American cuisine and features a seasonal menu which changes 4 times per year.

Elysian Brewing Company

The Elysian Brewing Company is an American brewery that operates four pubs in Seattle. On January 23, 2015, it was announced that Elysian would be sold to Anheuser-Busch. This deal means that Elysian Brewing Company will no longer meet the Brewers Association definition of a "craft brewery", since full ownership by Anheuser-Busch exceeds the definition's 25% maximum ownership by a non-craft brewery


  1. 1 2 3 Myers, E.L. (2012). North Carolina Craft Beers & Breweries. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair. pp. 163–167.
  2. 1 2 Joyal, Grace (January 26, 2010). "Top of the Hill opens new bar, hall". The Daily Tar Heel.
  3. Laudicina, Rose (June 21, 2012). "Top of the Hill opens local, organic distillery". The Carrboro Citizen.
  4. 1 2 Schwartz, Joe (September 16, 2009). "Finding the pulse of Franklin Street". Indy Week.
  5. Neal, Moreton (2009). Chapel Hill Food Lover's Guide: With Carrboro and Hillsborough, North Carolina. Chapel Hill, NC: Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau. p. 43.
  6. "Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery". Indy Week.
  7. "Top of the Hill Brewery".
  8. Johnson, Julie (April 7, 2010). "Cask ale: It's the real deal". Indy Week.
  9. Hurley, Madeline (September 16, 2012). "National Theatre of Scotland performs in Back Bar". The Daily Tar Heel.
  10. Conner, Maggie (April 10, 2012). "Top of the Hill owner chosen to give UNC Last Lecture". The Daily Tar Heel.