RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - The state of North Carolina boasts the largest number of craft breweries in the South, according to the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild.

Related: Why You Should Steer Clear of Beer After a Workout

After working on bombs and missiles for a living, John Oldendorf decided to make a career change.

"What do I enjoy doing," said Oldendorf. "What would I be happy about doing for a living? Beer was the number one option."

In 2011, there were just 59 craft breweries in the state of North Carolina.

With the addition of places such as Clouds Brewery, that number now stands at over 260 in 2018.

Related: Here are America's most popular beer brands

"Ten years ago we were told it hit the max," Oldendorf said at the World Beer Festival Saturday at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. "Now we're being told it hit the max."

According to BrewersAssociation.Org the Tar Heel state produced more than 1.2 million barrels of craft beer last year which is the seventh highest total in the nation.

"I lived in North Carolina the last three years, and we moved back to North Carolina just to be around this atmosphere," said craft beer drinker John Wandishin.

So what sets craft beer apart from its competition?

"Why have a Ford when you can have a Ferrari," said Wandishin. "It's that elite beer that you want to search out. You want to find it, and you want to try it. Everyone can do it here."

That's help craft beer turn into a $26 billion industry nationwide with many of those dollars staying home in North Carolina.

Related: Craft brewers tap into cannabis-infused beers

"It's not like I'm going out to support Budweiser or anything," said Wandishin. "We're going out and supporting a local business. They appreciate it, and we appreciate it."

"You're going to see fewer and fewer of the New Belgium and the Sierra Nevada," said Oldendorf. "There's not much more room for the big guys. There's a lot of room on the bottom."