Thursday, June 18, 2015

Checking in at Heist Brewery

Posted By on Thu, Jun 18, 2015 at 1:06 PM

Editor's Note: Our beer writer is embarking on a self-imposed Charlotte-area brewery tour, visiting one a month. Here's his latest report.

Some people enjoy their Sunday Funday on a lake, by the pool or simply escaping the heat in an air­conditioned refuge. I opted for a fourth, dumber option —­ bike ride. At the end of that mistake, I needed a pick­-me-­up that brewery visits often provide. Sounds like a Heist kind of night.

Heist Brewery (2909 N. Davidson Street) opened in September of 2012 in the NoDa neighborhood, just blocks from brewing compatriots Birdsong & NoDa. It’s a brewpub, meaning there’s a full food menu accompanying their beer & cocktail offerings.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

HB-625 rides again - sorta

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2015 at 1:26 PM

Oh Politics, I wish I knew how to quit you.

Just last month, there was a flurry of activity from craft brewers across the state, struggling to keep two bills on life support. Those two bills died in committee along with eight others; they weren’t even read.

The more contentious of the two, House Bill 278, was to raise the self-distribution limit for local breweries. It found itself square in the crosshairs of a campaign fronted by the North Carolina Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association, which has long contended that raising the limit was “a no-fly zone.”

HB-625 was also drawn into this crusade; while auspiciously a bill that would allow for Contract Brewing to occur at a North Carolina-based brewery, it did contain language that addressed the self-distribution cap. Ultimately, the passage that exempted a brewery’s tap room sales from the self-distribution limit led directly to its demise.

Really quick Contract Brewer definition, straight from the Brewers Association: “a business that hires another brewery to produce its beer. The contract brewing company is often responsible for recipe development and handles the marketing, sales and distribution of the beer.”

Today, the language of HB-625 that didn’t ruffle the feathers of wholesalers is finding new life: inserted as part of HB-909 as that bill moved through the Senate’s Commerce committee. HB-909 originated as a bill that would allow for sales of “antique spirituous liquor,” products that have not been in production in the last 20 years. Now, original 2-pages-and-change bill has grown to a solid 12, chock full of other goodies.

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Friday, May 8, 2015

What's hoppening at Unknown?

Posted By on Fri, May 8, 2015 at 2:16 PM

Editor's Note: Our beer writer is embarking on a self-imposed Charlotte-area brewery tour, visiting one a month. Here's his latest report.

Most of the time when I plan visit a brewery for these reports, it's either at the end of the month and I'm running out of time, or it's just a regular day and I felt like going. There's never a raison d'etre for my field trips until now: Unknown Brewing (1327 S. Mint St. in South End) was to hold its inaugural Improper Glassware Night today, and I just couldn't pass up the opportunity.

A bit about the theme, before I jump headfirst into the operation and the offerings: Bring in the craziest thing you can come up with that will hold liquid, and they'll fill it (up to 24 ounces), with a free growler prize going to the contest's winner. Entries so far have ranged broadly, from the pedestrian (liquid measuring cup), nerdy (erlenmeyer flask), sacrilegious (OMB stein) and stomach­-turning (a Fleshlight: "I swear it's been bleached first").

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Craft brewers in the crosshairs of regional distributors

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 11:44 AM

As detailed in my previous writing, a “grassroots” campaign of lies and deceit has begun, and North Carolina’s homegrown craft brewers are in its crosshairs. A regional distributor has launched a fight against two bills working through the N.C. General Assembly (H278 and H625) that would allow for continued expansion and success for homegrown brewing operations.

If you’re fuzzy on the background of this dire situation, please take a moment to get caught up. Once you have the appropriate amount of outrage over this smear campaign, I’ll tell you why they’re doing it.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

This petition against brewery law/distribution revisions is misleading

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 2:27 PM

“North Carolina beer jobs are under attack! Now, if you’ll just sign this petition, we promise to continue misleading you.”

That’s a fair summation of a website I was recently steered toward, the proactive-sounding Look, the domain even contains things I’m for: North Carolina, beer and jobs! How could this possibly be a bad thing? It warns about two bills moving through the N.C. General Assembly that are “threatening the livelihood of 1000’s of North Carolina workers.” When I view this site on a mobile device, the petition is conveniently at the top, so I don’t even have to read through a bunch of troublesome words to blindly commit to a cause.

Seriously, go check this website out; I’ll wait. All I ask is that you finish this piece before you sign. I’ll try to entertain you with the truth as I expose this website for the deceitful, misleading, fear-mongering piece of skewed garbage that it is.


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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Can't resist the Viking Fraoch at D9 Brewing

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 4:54 PM

Editor's Note: Our beer writer is embarking on a self-imposed Charlotte-area brewery tour, visiting one a month. Here's his latest report.

Thursday afternoon, and rush hour traffic is nipping at my heels. I can almost feel I-77 swell behind me with an influx of northbound traffic, and I do my best to ride this wave to the D9 Brewing Company in Cornelius without getting overwhelmed.

Let’s get this out of the way: You’re not lost or a victim of a wrong turn. This brewery is really in a business park. There’s not much in the way of outdoor signage, save for a sizeable “D9” logo taking up the front doors that I drove right past on my first attempt. I blame traffic exhaustion.

The doors open into a high-ceilinged taproom, with the bar sitting at the back left corner, just past the enclosed brewing area. After that drive, I need a beer before I look around much further, so I’m going to get to it.

I lead with the Loch Norman Scottish Ale, with the offering board listing it as the “official beer” of the Highland Games. It’s certainly to style; medium-brown coloration, medium body, with flavors of toasted bread and slight caramel notes stacked on top of a subtle earthy hop presence.

Loch Norman Scottish Ale
  • Photos by Jonathan Wells
  • Loch Norman Scottish Ale

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

6 CLT brews to check out in honor of National Beer Day

Posted By on Tue, Apr 7, 2015 at 5:52 PM

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.

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Monday, April 6, 2015

NoDa Brewing offers a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Posted By on Mon, Apr 6, 2015 at 4:15 PM

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.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Discovering a pretty enjoyable blonde at Sycamore Brewing

Posted By on Thu, Mar 19, 2015 at 11:57 AM

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.

Take a pitcher itll last longer.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

A letter to Unknown Brewing

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 2:46 PM

Dear Unknown,
Sorry for the delay in responding to your last letter, the one you sent the entire Charlotte craft beer community earlier this month. Usually I’m a bit quicker with my words, but yours made me pause. It’s clear you spent a great deal of time, energy and heart crafting your message, and I wanted to ensure my response wasn’t flippant.

First off, let me thank you for that letter. I’ve been going to your brewery since you first opened your taproom doors in November 2013 with much fanfare and celebration, and, honestly, I feel the letter was addressed to me specifically. In fewer than 500 words, you systematically addressed every previous reservation I had about your operations and your beers.

On Saturday the 21st, you’re turning 1 year old, celebrating when you started brewing on your own system instead of contracting out production. True to form, you’re celebrating with a massive party that I look forward to attending. Your redesigned taproom is destined to be slammed full of people ogling that chrome hop chandelier, as they should. You’ve come a long way from where most people first met you at your city-wide launch party events.

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