National Beer Day? Yes, it’s a thing (unofficial of course). More importantly, it’s the perfect excuse to check out some of Charlotte’s own local brews, especially the seasonal ones only around for spring, however short that season may be down here in the South (we’re already in the 80s this week).
The semi-legit holiday came about to celebrate the end of Prohibition, which went into effect on April 7, 1933 as a result of Roosevelt signing the Cullen-Harrison Act. Before the act, people had gone 12 years without a legal drop of booze. Talk about withdrawals. The new act allowed people to sell and drink beer less than 4 percent ABV (certainly not the case these days). 1.5 million barrels of beer were thrown back on that historical day.
Here's a quick list of local brews to satiate your palate.
Editor's Note: Our beer writer is embarking on a self-imposed Charlotte brewery tour, visiting one a month. Here's his third report.
Last day of the month, and I’m right on time to NoDa Brewing. Well, make that two minutes early for its 4 p.m. opening. Tuesdays find NoDa tapping a different one-off beer each week, part of a series known as the NoDable. This week’s offering, No Zest Needed, is a Belgian Pale that benefits from citrus notes courtesy of a well-chosen hop selection (Amarillo & Lemon Drop, a relatively new variety).
The NoDable is but one of 14 offerings on tap today; one of Lenny Boy’s kombuchas makes a guest tap appearance as a non-alcoholic option. The taproom itself is curiously in the middle of NoDa’s building, a necessary relic of bygone days, when city ordinance mandated they be situated 400 feet from any residence (the easement has since been reduced to 100 feet). This taproom doesn’t occupy much space, which is unfortunate for the weekend warriors. Life just hasn’t been the same for this hometown brewery since its Hop Drop ‘n Roll IPA won a gold medal at 2014’s World Beer Cup.
I’m sure you may have expected to find some bright, verdant dish here on the page this month. Maybe you were hoping for a colorful plate of vegetables sounding the trumpet of springtime, bursting with fresh flavors and edible flowers. Perhaps, you thought I would wax poetic on the spring revival at the farmer’s markets? Nope. Not this time.
This dish, my friends, is dedicated to the betterment of my sanity. It is the proverbial (and quite unexpected) chicken soup for my soul. And, there’s no chicken in it. Sometimes a dish is in the right place at the right time and it is everything one needs at that moment. The “Chicken” and Dumplings at Fern — a feature on the new spring menu coming out the second week in April — was that for me.
Editor's Note: Our beer writer is embarking on a self-imposed Charlotte brewery tour, visiting one a month. Here's his second report. In January, he checked out Olde Mecklenburg Brewery.
A funny thing happened after my February visit to Sycamore Brewing: I lost my notebook with my writeup. I then became engrossed in sketching out an upcoming article, so I’m just now getting back over there. As an act of contrition, I will now insert this carnivorous earwig into my brain. Or, better yet, I’ll double up and turn in two brewery reports this month to get back on schedule.
Let’s cut right to it: there’s beer to be found at Sycamore (2161 Hawkins St.). On this visit, I’m counting 12 different in-house beers on tap, plus three wine varietals. That’s down from the 16 beers available during my last visit. Of these 12, four are brand-new to my eyes. Obviously, rotation is the word of the day here. Alcohol content runs manageable too, which seems to serve the ping-pong-playing, pitcher-drinking crowd just fine.
Beer styles on offer skew slightly British, but not exclusively so; Germanic wheats and Belgian strongs feel at home here. I’m fighting the urge to order the hits, like Peak Farm Double Pale or Southerly Oat Pale. No, it’s a Deep Cuts kind of night, and I’m opting for what I might otherwise skip in order to expand my own horizons.
Although a press release says it'd be more appropriate to call Futo Buta a Japanese bistro, the new restaurant opening in South End May 1 will offer authentic ramen, with noodles made in house. Chef Michael Shortino, formerly of Baku, will be manning the kitchen.
If ramen isn't your thing — what's wrong with you? — the menu will also include steamed buns, fried dumplings, Japanese fried chicken, sushi and more. And we're excited to hear that the restaurant plans to have local beer on tap, in addition to sake.
Did South End just get a little more cooler? I think so.
Futo Buta will be located at 222 Bland St.
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives has hit Charlotte this week. On Tuesday, Pinky's Westside Grill posted a photo of owner Greg Auten in front of the restaurant with show host Guy Fieri and NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer:
We’ve all suffered through — or, for the masochists, enjoyed — a few mandatory years of mathematics classes. There is always that one teacher who drops cheesy math jokes on the regular in hopes of infusing a little flavor into the dry daily equations. “Gee, I’m a tree” and “Because 7 8 9” are true classics, but did you know that 3.14% of all sailors are Pi-rates?
Saturday, March 14, or 3.14, is a day dedicated to celebrating π, “Pi.” Pi is an irrational mathematical constant with an unending decimal taught to most gradeschoolers using the adage “Pies are square, not round.” This year also makes the date include the first five numbers of the unending sequence. To help with the festivities, we’ve put together a list of local home-grown bakers to fuel some beautiful minds at work.
• Seeing how we’re a proud city of the South, visit The Charlotte Pie Authority for a sweet taste of some old fashioned Southern style mini-pies. They offer buttermilk, crumb, truffle and their most popular, chess styles. (We wouldn’t recommend using their pies in lieu of a board for your pawns.) (Mecklenburg County Market: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; 7th Street Public Market: weekdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
Found: Pint Central (1226 Central Ave.)
Ingredients: Smooth Ambler Old Scout Rye Whiskey, Cynar, Ariston Raspberry Condiment, lemon garnish
A few simple ingredients come together to create Ida, a beaut of a cocktail named after the Grecian nursemaid to Zeus, said to have changed the color of raspberries from white to red by pricking her finger on a thorn. Other than the name, nothing in the drink hails from Greece. Both Cynar, the bitter liqueur made from 13 herbs and plants, and the raspberry vinegar are from Italy and join Smooth Ambler Old Scout Rye, which comes straight out of West Virginia.
In addition to these essential ingredients, there is one more element that’s vital to the drink’s flavor — the absinthe-rinsed glass.
“I wanted to do a light absinthe rinse to kind of bring out a little more contrast between the flavors,” says bartender Henry Schmulling. “The cocktail itself is very simple, very easy to make, but with a couple of extra additions to the process you can completely change the structure of the cocktail.”
Stirred and served straight up, it offers a boozy sip characterized by the beloved taste of whiskey highlighted by herbal notes like licorice, the sweetness of raspberry and the citrus-y scent of the lemon garnish.
The food trucks are back full swing in SouthPark, and the sun is out full force (well, kind of). Hello spring.
Southpark Eats Alternative, Charlotte’s local food truck rally at Fairview Plaza every Wednesday, will be hosting its Spring Kickoff this Wednesday, March 11, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
So what’s the big deal? Well, S.E.A. is now boasting a lineup of six food trucks compared to the previous two trucks that braved the winter.
Plus, King of Pops is back too. Tomorrow’s upper 70s weather and the contagious spring fever going around are the perfect combination to try an icy treat, and not one that resembles Elsa’s big freeze.
In Charlotte, there are things that our culinary scene lacks. An abundance of good Korean food and ramen joints, for example. What we don’t lack is a hunk of ground beef slapped between two buns. Burgers. The Queen City has as many burger joints as there are stars in the sky. Actually, we probably have more than that.
Every time I turn a corner, a new burger spot opens with the latest iteration of grassfed beef, artisan toppings or new and improved bun technology. I made that last one up, but you get my drift. When the market is soaked through with choices, it’s easy to forget about the old guard, places that serve a burger that’s just plain good — which is why I want to talk about the hamburger at Fenwick’s.
The tiny family-owned structure on Providence bearing a neon sign of its namesake has been serving the well-to-do neighborhood of Myers Park since 1984 and still manages to fill seats. Heck, I even had to wait for a table.
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