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Blogs / ICMA Annual Conference Blog / Don’t Worry, Be Hoppy: A Guide to Charlotte’s Craft Beer Scene

Don’t Worry, Be Hoppy: A Guide to Charlotte’s Craft Beer Scene


In the past five years, Charlotte has gone from an unknown entity on the brewing scene to an up and coming craft beer mecca. From microbreweries and brewpubs to taphouses and specialty bottle shops, the Queen City has an abundant array of options for craft beer enthusiasts wanting to wet their whistles. Walk into nearly any restaurant in the city, and you’re almost certain to find local craft beer on draft. It’s no wonder that Charlotte is gaining a reputation as a top destination for beer enthusiasts.

The following are the local Host Committee’s recommendations of some of the most fun ways to explore what Charlotte has on tap:

Local Breweries:

  • Birdsong Brewing Co. – Located in the NoDa neighborhood, Birdsong Brewing Company was founded in 2011 with a mission to bring flavorful, unfiltered, quality craft beers to the Queen City. Influenced by the innovative brewing styles from the West Coast and propelled by passion and ingenuity, Birdsong’s selections boast an eclectic flair. The taproom is small, but cozy, and there is also a covered patio out front which is a great spot to enjoy a beer when the weather is warm. Locals rave over the Jalapeño Pale Ale, which uses fresh jalapenos to create a refreshing brew with a little heat on the side. (2315 N. Davidson St.)
  • Heist BreweryLocated in the newly renovated historic Highland Mill in NoDa, Heist Brewery is a contemporary brewpub boasting a lineup of six main beers (our favorite is the immensely drinkable DZL Double IPA with pine and citrus notes), along with beer cocktails and made-from-scratch sodas. Tantalize your taste buds with twisted American cuisine, including intriguing offerings such as the duck flatbread, sriracha fried chicken, fire roasted tofu steak, and 17-dust banana eggrolls. (2901 N. Davidson St.)
  • Lenny Boy Brewing Co. ­­– Hop on the light rail to Historic South End, where you’ll find Lenny Bow Brewing Co., the only certified organic microbrewery in the state of North Carolina and one of the first kombucha and wild ale breweries in the Southeast. The brewery’s Tart De La Wit begins life as a traditional witbier, but is finished with a wild ale yeast that imparts a distinct sourness. (2224 Hawkins St.)
  • NoDa Brewing Company – After visiting Birdsong Brewing Co., head next door to NoDa Brewing Company, a 15-barrel brewery which crafts small-batch premium beers with plenty of options. Since opening its doors in 2011, NoDa has steadily gained both local and national acclaim, bringing home a silver medal from the 2012 Great American Beer Festival for its Coco Loco – a porter that blends the taste of chocolate with toasted coconut. Free brewery tours are offered M-F at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 5 p.m. Every Tuesday, NoDa brews its NoDable Series, a small batch that often uses unique ingredients and is available only at the taproom. (2229 N. Davidson St.)

 

  • The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery ­– Affectionately known to locals as “OMB,” The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, located at the edge of Historic South End, is the oldest brewery in the area specializing in German-style beers. OMB brews in accordance with the German beer purity law, which specifies that a beer must be brewed with only water, malt, hops, and yeast. Almost every OMB beer is lagered, resulting in a distinct clean and crisp character. Their flagship Copper Amber Ale is renowned in Charlotte, and for good reason: it’s as authentic an example of the Dusseldorf Altbier style as you will find on this side of the Atlantic, and has won a silver medal at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival. OMB just opened its new, expanded location in August 2014, a 25,000 square ft. brewery capable of producing 100,000 barrels of beer per year. (4150 Yancey Rd.)
  • Triple C Brewing Co.– Also located in South End, just steps from the light rail’s New Bern Station stop, discover the refreshing flavors of the Light Rail Pale Ale or the Greenway IPA in the taproom of Triple C. Brewing Company Tuesday through Sunday. Triple C. is committed to using the finest ingredients possible, the most advanced brewing techniques and the patience for the beer to aged just right, in order to hand craft a truly amazing and unique product. (2900 Griffith St.)
  • The Unknown Brewing Co. – Located in a large warehouse just three blocks south of Bank of America Stadium on the western edge of uptown, you’ll find The Unknown Brewing Company, whose mission is to create exceptional beer and a beer culture that motivates craft beer lovers to live without boundaries. This mission is reflected in their aptly named collection of three signature brews: Over the Edge USPA, Head First Pale Ale, and No Shame Wheat. The large brewhouse is visible from a fun taproom that features neon green floors beneath gray walls. (1327 S. Mint St.)

 

Hop-pening Hot Spots - Charlotte’s craft beer scene is about more than breweries and taprooms - top beer destinations include happening hotspots and unique watering holes. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Duckworth’s Grill and Taphouse – Voted “Best Craft Beer Selection” and “Best Place to Get a Beer Flight” by Charlotte Magazine, Duckworth’s Park Road location features 60 taps, alongside simple, non-pretentious food offerings. They operate with a simple philosophy—to offer superb beer selections that contain unique and rare beers that can't be found just anywhere. If the number of beers on tap seems intimidating, don’t worry, Beeradvocate.com ratings and taste guides are provided to help you pick your poison. (4435 Park Rd.)
  • Ed’s Tavern– Located 5 minutes from Uptown, this longtime Dilworth favorite (and Homeland filming location) carries 26 drafts and around 50 bottles featuring local suppliers, all at prices that won’t hurt your wallet (a draft here usually runs less than $5),  alongside a full menu of gourmet bar food. It’s no wonder Ed’s was voted "Best Place to Chill" by Charlotte Magazine – they offer 13 TVs and ALL Sports packages, pool tables, foosball, video games, as well as trivia on Wednesday and Thursday nights. (2200 Park Rd.)
  • Growler’s Pourhouse– Named one of “America’s 100 Best Beer Bars” by Draft Magazine, Growler’s Pourhouse in NoDa features a rotating list of American craft beers including a cask ale from their 1936 refurbished hand-pump beer engine, which pulls from casks of beer naturally carbonated using a vacuum as opposed to carbon dioxide. Pair your beer with a menu focusing on food that tastes great with beer – things like raw oysters, homemade hot dogs & sausage, kraut, peel & eat shrimp, chips/dips and desserts – all made in house. (3120 N. Davidson St.)
  • Icehouse South End Bar & Grill – located within walking distance of the West Blvd. light rail stop in historic Atherton Mills, Icehouse features a diverse selection of upscale casual American Fare along with over 200 beers and a full service bar. The draft selection is small, but bottle selections abound. Icehouse is equipped with 20 large flat screen televisions throughout; sure to keep any sports fan entertained. Be sure to check out the upper level loft with semi-private dining and private party room overlooking the restaurant below. (2100 South Blvd.)
  • Queen City Q – What goes better with beer than BBQ? Queen City Q is serving up some of the City’s best barbeque in this uptown location, just a short walk from Time Warner Cable Arena, and the craft beer list is just as impressive as the pulled pork and brisket. Nine of the 40-plus drafts are dedicated to Charlotte brews, and other North Carolina breweries are also well-represented. (225 E. 6th St.)
  • Revolution Ale House– Located in NoDa, Revolution offers pizza that everyone can enjoy, including vegan and gluten free options. The dining room is divided into four distinct areas – the bar, the patio, a side room and the back room – each with its own vibe. With over 44 draughts, including at least a dozen North Carolina beers, as well as more than 60 bottled beers, it’s the perfect place to spend an evening people-watching and chatting with friends. (3228 N. Davidson St.)
  • Rock Bottom Brewery & Restaurant - Conveniently located in the heart of Uptown, Rock Bottom features a refreshed made-from-scratch menu of steaks, burgers, pasta, seafood and salads along with expertly crafted, made-in-house beer from Brew master Robb Macleod. The brewery keeps six main selections on tap, but the most interesting beer in the house is the brew master’s choice, described as a “one-of-a-kind beer to elevate your notion of what a great brew can be.” (401 N. Tryon St., Suite 100)
  • VBGB Beer Hall & Garden - Beer is always better when shared with friends. That’s the idea at VBGB, located at the N.C. Music Factory. With numerous picnic tables in a beer garden style, along with an outside patio complete with cornhole, ping pong, life-size Jenga, Connect Four, checkers and chess, it’s no wonder VBGB was named one of the best beer gardens in America by thrillist.com! They offer more than 30 craft beers and imports on draft, including many local brews. Most of the craft beers are poured into four different sizes: 12 oz., 18 oz., 34 oz. and pitchers. Sit at the bar, where their specialty frost rail, five inches of gleaming ice, will keep your drink extra cold even on the warmest of days. (920 Hamilton St.)
  • World of Beer – The name says it all. Located in South End, World of Beer (“WOB”) has something for every craft beer lover, offering 60 rotating taps and more than 500 bottled and canned beers. At least five taps are devoted to local beer, and every Monday all Charlotte brewery pints are half off. WOB also features a different special every night. (222 E. Bland St.)

 

Specialty Bottle Shops:

  • Brawley’s Beverage – Owned and operated by Charlotte’s ultimate beer connoisseur, Michael Brawley, this is the spot to go in order to discover the latest happenings in beer culture. The store is stocked with more than 800 different beers, including meads, ciders, and gluten-free beers. Brawley will also offer recommendations, and ages beers in his walk-in cooler.  (4620 Park Rd.)
  • Bulldog Beer and Wine– Located in the historic Dilworth neighborhood and bordered by scenic Freedom Park and the Little Sugar Creek Greenway, Bulldog Beer and Wine offers a wide selection of craft beer and fine wine. (2447-B Park Rd.)
  • The Common Market– With locations in both South End and Plaza Midwood, The Common Market is a modern-day general store – a mix between a deli, bottle shop, bar, and convenience store that offers a variety of cold craft beers and wine, as well as beer tasting events in an eclectic, welcoming atmosphere. Along with all a selection of more than 200 of the best cutting-edge craft beers, Common Market has an impressive collection of international lagers and pilsners from exotic origins such as Lebanon, Morocco, Spain and India. The South End location also has six taps, boasting an impressive selection.  (1515 S. Tryon St. – South End;  2007 Commonwealth Ave – Plaza Midwood)
  • Good Bottle Co. – Located in South End, Good Bottle Co. offers bottles, cans, growlers, draft pints and draft half-pints all organized by style, so it’s easy to find your favorite beer. It’s not hard to find where the breweries from Good Bottle’s twelve taps are located – a giant U.S. map across from the bar displays stickers showing their location. At least three of those taps are always dedicated to Charlotte beer, and the “father-in-law” tap features a lighter beer. A free tasting from a different brewery is offered every Thursday night. (125 Remount Rd.)
  • Salud Beer Shop – Stepping into Salud is like stepping into your friend’s basement to hang out and grab a couple of beers. Located on a street corner in a nondescript storefront, the shop offers a half-dozen taps as well a massive selection of craft bottles, cans and growlers. You can also revisit your childhood by playing original Nintendo games on the couch. (3306-B  North Davidson St.)

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