Written by: Jaii Fredregill
Destination: Charlotte, NC
Visited: January 2018
The city of Charlotte, NC, also known as The Queen City, due to its namesake Queen Sophie Charlotte, wife of England’s King George III, happens to be North Carolina’s largest city. Charlotte has been experiencing a population explosion for some time now, including one of the most significant influxes of millennials to occur in the U.S. in the past decade. As the inhabitants continue to multiply, so does the number of thirsty pallets, which has resulted in a thriving craft brewing scene.
Beer is an instant conversation starter, and I was lucky enough to make the acquaintance of several locals, native and transplants alike, who had a lot to say about the roughly 30 breweries now operating in Charlotte. With just one week in town, there was no way to try them all (damn it). Here are six breweries that I was able to visit during my time in Charlotte.
1906 Commonwealth Ave, Charlotte, NC 28205, USA
Head Brewer: Alexa Long
I'm sure miserable, disgruntled brewers exist, but I've never met one. Above Legion Brewery's Assistant Brewer Scott Griffin helps to keep the dream alive.
Legion just happens to be located directly next door to where I was staying in Plaza-Midwood, which is sort of like finding a giant bag of money on the ground when no one is looking. This place is a gem with its chill atmosphere, friendly staff, and a tempting selection of beers.
Beers Sampled: Juicy Jay (East Coast IPA), Path to the Dark Side (Stout), Freedom Park Pale (American Pale Ale), Wheating Wainbow (Hoppy Wheat).
Juicy Jay is Legion’s flagship brew and is an all-around solid IPA. Living in hot, balmy Singapore, I don’t get the inclination or opportunity to drink much dark beer, so I made a point of requesting the Path to the Dark Side Stout in my sampling as well. This beer is everything I like a stout to be, smooth, luscious and too decadent for overindulgence. Nailed it!
A mysterious “Adventure Tap” is also available in the taproom at $5 per glass with $1 donated to charity. Ask your bartender for details. Tasty bar snacks are on offer for those who like to maintain their vertical posture while drinking. Tours are available every Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 pm.
Resident Culture Brewing & Blending
2101 Central Ave, Charlotte, NC 28205, USA
Head Brewer: Chris Tropeano (featured at the top of this post).
Left to Right at Resident Culture- Sexy Lil’ Guy (Hoppy IPA), African Queen (Extra IPA made from African hops), Tin Can Annie (Helles Lager made with German Yeast), Road to Nowhere Saison (A very drinkable Saison with a nod to the Talking Heads).
Head Brewer, Chris Tropeano, happened to be sitting at the bar deeply engaged with his laptop when I came in to try the beer. I asked if he was the brewer and after introducing himself, he showed me around and explained what was on tap.
This guy has done a lot of brewing since he arrived. He seemed somewhere between excited and slightly overwhelmed as he talked about what’s to come in 2018. Just talking to him this one time it's evident that he’s a creative guy with a lot of new concoctions on his mind.
Keep an eye on this buzzing little hot spot. They are hard at work on more exceptional brewing for 2018. If you happen to arrive when the weather is warm, grab a pint and post up outside in the sunny, dog-friendly beer garden.
Olde Mecklenburg Brewery
4150 Yancey Rd, Charlotte, NC 28217, USA
Director of Brewing Operations: Dave Martin
Olde Mecklenburg's Altbier style beer, Copper, was recommended to me by my Lyft driver when he dropped me off. The Copper is an excellent recommendation, but the Fat Boy porter was my personal favorite, as I have demonstrated here.
Beers Sampled: Copper Altbier, Captain Jack Pilsner, Dunkelweizen, Southside Weiss Wheat Ale, Fat Boy Porter, Hornet’s Nest Hefeweizen.
Known around town as, “OMB,” this is the oldest brewery in Charlotte. The original, smaller facility and tasting room is now home to Sugar Creek Brewing Company. OMB's new space is substantially larger and accommodates a generous amount communal seating in both the Brauhaus and the Biergarten. German-style beer and food are available along with some American fare. The staff is fun and well-informed.
I went during the lunch rush on a Tuesday, so I had the pleasure of meeting some very charming members of the 65+ crowd. Let me tell you, these kids like their beer and sausage. They’re pleased to see what a booming operation this brewery has become and most say their children and grandchildren are patrons as well.
Conveniently located walking distance from the Scaleybark light rail stop for responsible drinking. Free tours are available every 30-minutes from 2:00 pm-4:30 pm and Sunday on the hour from 2:00 pm-4:00 pm. No registration required for public tours.
Bold Missy Brewery
610 Anderson St, Charlotte, NC 28205, USA
Head Brewer: Carli Smith
Located in the NoDa district of Charlotte, Bold Missy has received much acclaim as the first female-owned brewery in town. Most importantly they make some damn fine beer.
Rocket Ride IPA and Find A Way Tangerine Ale are the top sellers here. I am hooked on this tangerine ale. It is not like any other beer I have ever tried that incorporates citrus. The flavor is very balanced; it’s not overly acidic or sweet like a Radler can be. Head Brewer Carli Smith has recently taken over, putting her twists on the recipes. For example, she now makes Find A Way with fresh tangerine peels and juice rather than a concentrate. I don't know what this beer was like before, but I do recommend trying Carli's recipe and perhaps even seeking it out in large quantities.
Beers Sampled: Rocket Ride, Find A Way, Conquer the Route, Git Yer Gun, Solo Flight, Mary’s Monster, Vonn Trapp. Lay it on me Bold Missy!
Truthfully, I sampled everything. Josh and Jordan were behind the bar and had answers to questions I didn't even know I had. Here is what I learned about Bold Missy's brews.
In addition to, Rocket Ride and Find A Way, Bold Missy keeps Conquer the Route Stout, Git Yer Gun Golden Ale and Solo Flight Brown Ale on tap year-round. Three additional beers are typically in the rotation. Between January and March 2018, the following will be rotated in; a West Coast IPA, a Cinnamon-Coffee Brown, which will premiere at the Queen City Brewers Festival, then a Lemon and Pink Peppercorn Saison will join soon after back in the tap room.
NoDa Brewing Company
2921 N Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28206, USA
Head Brewer, Owner: Chad Henderson
The colorful taps at NoDa Brewing Company all called out to me. Narrowing my selection down to just four was not an easy task.
Beers Sampled: Hop Drop n’ Roll IPA, Coco Loco Porter, Boba Brett Sour, and Hot Pistol Chocolate Raspberry Habanero Stout.
If you just read through what I sampled your eyes are not playing tricks on you. NoDa Brewing does indeed make a stout infused with raspberries and habaneros called Hot Pistol. I don’t usually go in for overly complicated beers because they often seem to be trying too hard and just wind up being gross. Hot Pistol, however, is a seasonal anomaly I recommend including it as part of a flight if you're not convinced. I didn’t want to like it, but I just couldn’t stop going back to it.
None of these beers were disappointing. I would have happily sampled more if there weren’t so many breweries in Charlotte to get to for this post. NoDa Brewing Company tap room could quickly become one of my regular haunts if I were living in Charlotte. The customers and the staff generate the type of positive energy that can only belong to a place and those who frequent it.
Tin Kitchen food truck - serving up sustenance.
This place has everything, fire pits, picnic tables, disc golf, and one of my personal favorites, bocce ball. There is no kitchen, but the Tin Kitchen food truck is whipping up some tasty, reasonably priced delights in the parking lot.
Birdsong Brewing Company
1016 N Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28206, USA
Head Brewer: Conor Robinson
Ryan McLoughlin has worked in both brewing and sales during his time with Birdsong. I could not have asked for a more gracious and informed host. Thanks Ryan!
Beers Sampled: Jalapeño Pale Ale, Lazy Bird Brown Ale, Higher Ground IPA, Paradise City IPA, Honey Pie Double IPA, Mexicali Stout, and Puppies on Penguins.
Last, but certainly not least was Birdsong Brewery. As you can tell by the number of beers that I sampled, I was here for a while. Ryan and Britt were behind the bar when I was in, so there was no shortage of entertaining conversation as they shared their knowledge of Birdsong's creations with me.
I tasted a lot of outstanding beers over the course of the week, and I have to say everything I had here can hold its own. On that note, I do feel the need to put a plea in for what I believe to be one of the finest examples of genius in brewing I have ever encountered.
Birdsong barrels, where Puppies on Penguins goes to slumber.
Puppies on Penguins
You know how in Tijuana, MX your friends can pay to have tequila poured down your throat by a girl who pulls your head back by your hair while loudly blowing a whistle in your ear? I want someone to do this to me with Puppies on Penguins. Just pull my hair, blow my eardrums out and keep it flowing. I think all the answers to the universe may come to light through the consumption of this one simple Belgian-style ale, cleverly steeped with cherries and aged in red wine barrels. I am told that this example of pure brew wizardry is soon to be retired. To that, I can only say STOP YOURSELF HEAD BREWER CONOR ROBINSON! For the love of all that is holy, let the puppies and penguins live out their days peacefully and uninterrupted!
Rest assured, should my protest go unheard; there are still plenty of options for every beer-lover fortunate enough to find their way to Birdsong. Try them all.