A Scoop Girl’s Guide To Charlotte Brew Pubs
Recently I was asked to contribute a blog to Scoop Charlotte on breweries. Check it out:
Contributed by guest blogger & general girl-around-town Jenna Gribble. Check her blog at HelloImJenna.com:
Craft beer and brew pubs seem to be everywhere I look. Everyone is making their own beers these days. So when the scoopcharlotte Editor asked me to find out about Charlotte’s Best Brew Pubs, I figured fine. Then, I thought, wait, what exactly is craft beer? To define what an American craft beer is, I went to www.craftbeer.com:
Small – Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less
Independent – Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer
Traditional – A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.
I decided to venture out and see what the Queen City has to offer. I am by no means a beer snob; I like light beers; the PBRs, Miller Light , Coors and Blue Moons; I keep it pretty simple = beer is beer, or is it? I am curious as to what all the hype is about with craft beer seems like a lot of work for something you can just go buy at the HT. But, just like with sports, if ya wanna play with the boys, ya better learn the rules. Here’s what I found around town:
I am so happy I stumbled upon this place. I kept seeing (guys’) posts about it, and my interest was peaked piqued. Salud is located in NoDa across from the Dog Bar. I walked in on a sunny Saturday afternoon and it was like I was walking into a friends house. I was greeted with a huge "Hi!!!! come sample this" so I did. The bar was packed with ladies sampling a local cider by Red Clay Cider; it was very tasty. The owner Jason explained that what started off as a bottle shop promoting local & regional craft beers is now growing and expanding next door to have a deli. ( I saw the menu with a Chicken Salad Wafflewhich - SOLD!) Bar patrons informed me that people enjoy coming in to Salud, buying a bottle and then sharing it so that everyone can sample it to see what you like or don't. Nice, cuz these are not inexpensive beers. I will be back for sure.
I absolutely love everything about VBGB (Very BIG German Beer). With 30 craft beers and imports on draft and a frost rail to set your beer on; yes that's 5inches of ice that runs down the bar. This spot is popular because there is something for everyone (volleyball, cornhole, oversized Jenga, Chess and Connect 4); it’s family and pet friendly. There is usually some sort of event going on; the day I was there, it was volleyball played outside on the sand court. You know the scene in Top Gun the volleyball scene; yeah you know it; it was similar to that. I was a happy camper. The food is amazing and everything is under $10. This is a perfect spot to hit before and or after shows at the Fillmore. My favorites were the RJ Rockers Son of Peach Wheat beer from South Carolina and the Birdsong Brewery Jalapeno Pale Ale - tassssty! Don't be afraid to ask for a sample of anything that peaks your interest. They are generous and want you to be happy and I was.
Great spot thats been in operation for 2 years. I found out that they will be doing a HUGE $400K upgrade, complete with 9,400 barrels to be brewed annually - that's a lot of beer! Located in Southend on the lightrail line and run by Chris Harker and Scott Kimball, their demand for good beer is that high. I popped in last week for a Golden Boy, a golden colored ale with toasted malt character. Another option is the Light Rail Pale Ale; I like this beer a lot as it has the citrus hop flavor that I enjoy. Want something darker? Try the Baby Maker Double IPA; it's got BITE! Like Panthers RAWWWR! Great spot to go with your dog and grab a local beer on a date; lined with picnic tables inside and out and there is usually a Food Truck of some sort outside; the day I was there it was Papi Queso. Just do it. Trust me.
I am huge fan of Heist; the food and atmosphere, the artwork are all great topics of convo. I've visited many times, and each time I walk away happy. I usually learn something too. Founder Kurt Hogan makes sure his guests are having a great time, and he is always happy to answer my numerous questions. Brewing beer is tough stuff; seems like a lot of waiting and cleaning; two things I am not a fan of. Good job guys! I can always count on the very talented Stefan Huebner to introduce me to the latest and greatest beer or mixed drink. I popped in a few weeks ago to check out the patio tried the Muscles From Brussells, something different with a spicy crisp finish. I love Heist because the menu is insanely good and there is always a melting pot of people from all walks of life sprinkled at the bar. You never know who you are going to meet, and if you meet no one, meet Stefan; seriously. He's amazing and talented, and he will make you a drink that will blow your mind.
Located in the 7th Street Public Market, Tanks Tap is new to the scene. 2 girls, Amy and Denise came up with the idea to open a neighborhood spot, with 12 beers on tap and 48 beers, there is something for everyone. This is a great after work spot and also on the lightrail line, which I love. They pressurize their beer which will keep it crisp and fresh for 2-3 weeks. I recommend the Gordgeous Pumpkin Ale - they had me at gordgeous.
Located in Noda and started by a group of friends with an idea and a 5-gallon soup kettle, the vision for Birdsong was simple: craft flavorful unfiltered quality craft beer and bring it to the QC. Made in the QC for the QC residents with unfiltered QC water. It doesn't get any more homegrown than that. I noticed there are no TVs; interesting. No TVs so you are forced to have this thing called a conversation â€“ so old school. I liked the rustic atmosphere and the simplicity. Family and pet friendly too. I have been a few times and had the Carolina Common and the Sticky Situation, which is way off my radar but I liked it. The Pride Belgian Abbey is a cherry fig base and one of my favorites. Brew master Conor Robinson has brought a West Coast style along with his passion for his craft and perfected some tasty unique blends. Definitely sample sample sample! Every Thursday they do a Thirsty Thursday at 4:30 where they tap a small batch. Find what you like and what you don't like. Either way it's definitely a conversation topic.
Thats Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and they have a brand new home, not far from their previous location in Southend. The new location is getting rave reviews. It sits on just over 8 acres of land and takes you away to Germany. Owned by a Bostonian, John Marrino who spent a great deal of time in Germany, he said that that was his inspiration. The Fruh Brock (pronounced Froo Bock) is a German beer that has a sweet taste; that citrus taste that I love. The alcohol content is 6% so yeah; watch yourself. Also try the OMB Copper which is an altbier which means bring it on German, as in old school. You can’t go wrong with this one. Tuesday nights a bike club meets over there and is a great way to meet some people.
I visited the Central Avenue location in Plaza Midwood. With 43 rotating taps and tons of bottles to choose from, Pizza Peel makes your tasty adventure up the beer chain as easy for you as possible. They carry local beers like Triple C, Birdsong and OMB. I opted for the Highland Gaelic Ale; it was delish accompanied with a slice of pizza; their pizza is amazing btw. It's a pretty chill atmosphere and a great place to go on a date or to meet after work. One cool thing that they have: a BadAss Beer App! It's a nifty lil app where you can see the current beer on tap and it keeps track of all the different beers you drink. When you try different beers you collect points towards some great schwag! The BadAss Beer App is available for the iPhone and Android phones.
Unknown Brewing Co
The Unknown Brewing Company is becoming quite well known in my opinion. Months ago I got behind one of their vans on the way to work and was like "I wonder what that is?" I stopped by soon after that and I found it a very cool hangout spot, especially after work because it’s on the way home (they are located on Mint Street in Downtown). Owned by Brad Shell and Charlottean Larry Suggs, I am a fan. I've stopped in, and hung out on the picnic tables out front after work; people my age mostly and lots of dogs. [I do like a bar where I can take my dog]. My 1st time in there I tried the No Shame – a wheat beer that is a perfect summer beer for a great beer if your summer never ends. As the website says "Drink this proud . . . There's No Shame". I also had the Head First and was pleasantly surprised. Head First is a golden tan and has a light crisp sweetness and it’s not too heavy. I don't want to feel like I just inhaled a liquid loaf of bread; I don't want to be all bloated, and I wasn't. There you have it, I stepped into the Unknown and survived.
So that's about all I have to say about Charlotte craft beer. Happy beer tasting and remember; these brewers are there because they love beer, so don't be afraid to ask questions or sample things. Step out of your comfort zone and try something off the wall so you can at least say you tried it and maybe even make some new friends.
As always stay safe and please don't drink and drive.