I can think of few people in Charlotte who have more thoroughly, respectfully and passionately promoted craft beer than Daniel Hartis. His blog, Charlotte Beer, named "Best Local Blog" by Creative Loafing readers in 2012, is a labor of love, documenting local events, tastings, beer releases and festivals. Hartis has also been named "Most Valuable Blogger" by CBS Charlotte and "Best Local Twitterer" by Charlotte Magazine.
Not only does he run Charlotte Beer and its accompanying social media platforms (which are updated daily), he also works a full-time job, is raising two kids and has written two books. The first, appropriately titled Charlotte Beer: A History of Brewing In The Queen City, documents the history of local beer in Charlotte. Beer Lover's the Carolinas, his recently released second book, expands on the concept of his first, providing a veritable encyclopedia of breweries, brewpubs, craft-centric bars and homebrew stores located throughout the Carolinas.
Beer Lover's the Carolinas is a guide for those seeking great local spots for craft beer in North and South Carolina. Conveniently broken down by region, it chronicles the local breweries and brewpubs of the area, including when they were founded, by whom, their hours and what beers they brew, both year-round and seasonally. This information, printed in blue, is conveniently located in the header directly under the name of the establishment.
Hartis also does the readers a service by including a "Beer Lover's Pick," highlighting one beer from each brewery. This is a great addition for those who may be visiting for the first time or who may be a bit indecisive when scrolling through their many beer options. In the section on NoDa Brewing Company, for example, Hartis suggests its recent World Beer Cup gold medal-winning Hop Drop N' Roll American IPA, a deliciously dank hop monster that beat out more than 200 entries to claim the title of "World's Best American IPA."
Hartis also recommends several craft-centric bars in each region. This can be tricky, as the topic can be quite subjective, and with limited space, it is inevitable that some people's favorites will be omitted. For example, in the Charlotte section, Queen City Q is included, while World of Beer is not. Now, don't get me wrong: Queen City Q is a killer beer location with a heavy emphasis on local drafts, but World of Beer, despite being a national chain, has a great draft selection and one of the best bottle selections in town.
Charlotte, Hartis' hometown (he was born in Waxhaw, technically), also has more bars mentioned than any other section in the book. Some could argue that this is biased, while others will simply say that it makes sense that he would include more bars from the area he's most familiar with. Based on my personal experience, I feel his recommendations in the Charlotte area are sound, given the size of the city and huge number of craft-focused bars here.
Brief sections on beer festivals, homebrew supply stores and beer-focused recipes round out the book. These are not nearly as in-depth or as long as the previous sections, but they do a nice job of adding breadth to a book that would have otherwise basically been a Carolina beer atlas for those seeking a place to drink. Hartis also includes a glossary of common terms, acronyms and phrases used in the beer world to help those less familiar with craft jargon.
Beer Lover's the Carolinas, while part of a national series covering beer in the U.S., is a standout read because Hartis has a true passion for the Carolinas and craft beer in general, and that shows here. Unlike many of the other states' authors, he visited almost every one of the venues he wrote about, and brought a local photographer and fellow beer enthusiast, Eric Gaddy, to document their trips. His excellent shots can be found throughout the book. This lends an authenticity to Beer Lover's the Carolinas, which could otherwise have been dismissed as a mash-up of locations researched from a desk via the Internet.
Whether you're looking for a great resource to aid in your travels or a nice coffee table book to enlighten your friends with, Beer Lover's the Carolinas is a well-researched, comprehensive guide to craft beer in North and South Carolina.
Cam Heiliger is a freelance writer, homebrewer, educator, and overall craft beer geek. A native Charlottean, he's covered and worked in the local beer scene for nearly 10 years.