If you’re spending any time at Lake Norman’s bars or breweries, bring a life jacket | QC After Dark

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

If you’re spending any time at Lake Norman’s bars or breweries, bring a life jacket

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 10:37 AM

The last time I was at Lake Norman, I almost drowned. (Long story short, my roommate who had never driven a boat was our captain, there was a woman overboard, and I tried to save her — oh, and alcohol was involved.) So when we got the opportunity to check out nightlife at the lake, I was hopeful for a less life-threatening experience.

What I didn’t realize is that I was going to need a life jacket while there, whether I was on a boat or not.

Around 7:30 p.m., my P.I.C. and I started out at The Vinyl Pi, a pizza joint and bar. There, the owner told us about the Lake Norman culture: In short, the area has become a major relocation spot for many of the now 35-and-up hipsters previously from NoDa.

While there, we met the founder of Bella Love — who, by the way, looked like Jake Gyllenhaal, so it was incredibly hard to focus — an organization dedicated to building community and connecting people through arts and entertainment. Coming soon (hopefully this month) from Bella Love is Old Town Public House, a craft beer and wine shop that will act as a hub for the development of relationships and entertainment that the organization prides itself on.

Vinyl Pi, as it turns out, is an award-winning bourbon bar with 25 different selections; naturally, we tried three flights, even though I’m not a huge fan of bourbon and I hadn’t eaten anything yet. Our chaser or “palate cleanser” was sparkling water — I wanted to vomit. Seriously? If this is what it takes to be an adult (sampling the various flavors of a liquor), I am nowhere near ready.

After the bourbon tasting, we moved on to Crafty Beer Guys. This two-story house-turned-bar/retail spot offers 350 different craft beers and 150 fine wines for purchase. Socializing is a must here, with a porch, fire pits and 16 rotating taps.

Next, we got a preview of a brand-new spot called Primal Brewery. By this time, I was less concerned about the impact my consumption would have on my empty stomach. Specializing in ale-style brews, the focus is on smooth and drinkable. Therefore, I asked for a flight. (Yes, another flight.) An important lesson we learned here: Craft beers can be brewed up to 14.5 percent in alcohol content. Note to self.

I didn’t feel like I was making an “ass clown” of myself, though, until we got to Ass Clown Brewing Company. The flights were starting to take their toll, as I found myself struggling to hold my eyes open. But the drinking continued. Ass Clown has 31 different flavors on tap and we tried every single one. The most memorable was a raspberry jalapeño, sweet yet spicy. But it was the Buttered Apple Pie Amber of which I got a growler to go.

At D9 Brewing, we had to take ourselves a “kelfie” — a keg selfie, as this brewery had the most extensive brewing system out of the ones we saw. It reminded me of an elementary school playground set-up: stairs, elevated platforms and bars to swing on. The only difference was that everything was decked out in stainless steel. And the reason they need this amazing system? They specialize in brewing Fanatical Ales™ — craft beer of a fanatical nature.

After a brief stumble into The Cork and Cask (the sister restaurant of Vinyl Pi), the final stop on our tour of LKN’s nightlife was Liquid Lounge — but not on purpose. We were just too drunk and enjoying the vibe way too much. It’s the first of its kind in the area, a dessert and hookah spot that’s only five months old. No matter where I am, blueberry is always my go-to flavor for hookah, so I suggest you start there. Currently 18 and up, Liquid offers spoken word, open mic and more.

The only downfall to our lake adventure? By 11 p.m., all of the breweries were closed, and some earlier than that. The answer? Start drinking early like we did.

If you’re looking for a change of scenery from Uptown nightlife or in need of an overnight getaway, Lake Norman has plenty of fun to spare. Unfortunately, by the end of the night, you may be drowning ... in the toilet. Might I suggest a life jacket?

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