When you hear people talk about the Charlotte craft beer scene, you may wonder what exactly is a craft brew?
- Craft breweries produce 6 million barrels or less
- Microbreweries produce 15,000 barrels or less
- A brew pub is where 25% or more of the beer is sold on site
- Nanobreweries and home brewers also produce small batches of tasty craft brew concoctions
Deeply rooted in homebrewing, the craft beer industry is unlimiting American beer culture. It has even has helped to repeal laws which helped make opening microbreweries easier. In 1978 homebrewing was finally re-legalized in the United States, in the years that followed these brewers went pro and craft beer started making an appearance in a nation of big breweries and bland beer. Now you see the larger companies competing with the craft brewers, or even buying them out altogether.
This American beer revolution has led to a generation of beer fanatics with more advanced pallets. Hop heads. Malty men (and women). Beer and cheese pairings in lieu of wine and cheese pairings. Crafting and craft brew nights bring together knitting and nut browns. Fun flavors like bacon, jalapeno, mojito, and thyme all grace our pallets and expand our beer horizons.
North Carolina was no stranger to to Craftbreweries, but changes in legislation over the past decade have really allowed the hop-happy culture to blossom. In 2005 NC raised the restriction on sales and manufacturing of high gravity beers, paving the way for local Imperial Stouts, Double IPAs, Barely Wines, and Abbey-Style Ales. A few years later and the state removed the cap that forbade all but small breweries from offering tastings on site. This helped bring craft brew pioneers Sierra Nevada and New Belgium Brewing to start work on Asheville breweries.
In NoDa (the North Davidson area of Charlotte) you will find the appropriately named NoDa Brewing. Head brewer Chad Henderson will be speaking with us at TEDxCharlotte 2013 and we look forward to hearing how craft beer has UNLIMITED his life. They have been open since October of 2011 and have an adventurous style to their brewing. In 2012, their Coco Loco won silver in the Great American Beer Festival’s (GABF) Robust Porter category.
NoDa doesn’t have the only award winning Charlotte craft brew. The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery also won silver in the GABF German-Style Märzen category for their Mecktoberfest, a fall seasonal brew. What is unique about Old Meck is that they practice all the old German purity laws. They also don’t distribute outside of the Charlotte area, in keeping with the purity laws, and produce traditional style beers with great flavor. If you have the opportunity, grab a growler of Copper or, if it’s in season, get a taste of the Mecktoberfest.
If you can get tickets, you should definitely check out the Queen City beer festivals. Here are a few festivals to check out each year, but there are plenty more Charlotte area (and NC) beer fests that bring in the local, regional and even national craft breweries.
- Charlotte Craft Beer Week
- North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival
- Queen City Brew Festival
- Charlotte Oktoberfest
- Four Friends Brewing
Down near our SC border, Four Friends is located near Carowinds and is available at a whole lot of Charlotte restaurants and venues. You’ll most likely find their IPA while you’re out to eat, but look for their other seasonal beers as well.
- Ass Clown Brewing
Go green with attitude! Ass Clown combines local organic ingredients with a passion for craft brewed beer for a unique experience. It’s worth a visit just for the taproom which is decked out in all sorts of clownerific details which is made all the more enjoyable after a few beers.
- The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery
Award Winning traditional German beer. Fresh from the source, without the cost of a plane ticket.
- NoDa Brewing Company
Owners Todd & Suzie Ford have created a cozy beer space in the NoDa district. They explore brewing on their own terms creating adventurous and amazing flavor combinations.
- Triple C Brewery
Located in Charlotte’s South End, this modern stylings brewery has a refreshing style both in taste and the taproom.
- Birdsong Brewing
Unfiltered handcrafted beers experimenting with innovative flavors for a west coast style. Birdsong is located right across the way from NoDa Brewing. If you have an afternoon to spare, it’s a great beer selection all in one parking lot!
- Heist Brewery
Charlotte’s newest contemporary brewpub with award winning beers and twisted American cuisine.
Get connected with the local beer scene by following Charlotte Beer and visit the brewery websites to learn what culinary venues also offer their brews on tap in the Charlotte area.
Charlotte Craft Beer shopping:
- Salud http://www.saludbeershop.com/
- Good Bottle http://goodbottlecompany.tumblr.com/
- World of Beer http://wobusa.com/Locations/SouthEnd.aspx
- Common Market http://www.commonmarketisgood.com/
- Brawley’s Beverage http://www.brawleysbeverage.com/
Garland discovered craft beer in 2005 when NC repealed the 6% ABV laws bringing craft beers into the Charlotte area grocery stores. Since then, she has been helping her husband home brew and has enjoyed volunteering at Charlotte Oktoberfest since 2008. She is looking forward to Chad’s TEDxCharlotte 2013 talk, especially since NoDa brewing is her favorite local craft beer hangout. Tell us about your favorite craft beer experiences in the comments and feel free to connect with Garland to continue the discussion.