Charlotte Craft Beer Week runs from March 20-28

Charlotte Craft Beer Week

Now in its sixth year, Charlotte Craft Beer Week returns to the Queen City with a bevy of special tappings, festivals and other events running from March 20-28.

Events are still being added to the Charlotte Craft Beer Week events page, but those familiar with past beer weeks will notice some old favorites. Duckworth’s on Park Rd. will once again hold its cask festival from 1-5 p.m. this Saturday, March 21. Tickets to the event are $25 and can be purchased at Duckworth’s (or call 704-527-5783), which gets you a tasting glass and a six-ounce pour from one-off casks created by the following seven breweries: NoDa Brewing, Birdsong Brewing, Wicked Weed Brewing, Olde Hickory Brewing, New Belgium Brewing, Terrapin Beer Co. and Stone Brewing. You’ll be asked to vote in the “Battle of the Casks,” with the winner being deemed the 2015 Cask Festival Champion.

Later that Saturday night, Salud Beer Shop will celebrate three years by tapping a variety of North Carolina beers. Fonta Flora is bringing their Hop Beard IPA, Year of the Goat Saison and red wine barrel-aged Barleywine, as well as Baba Budan Coffee IPA — the collaboration they did with Boone’s Appalachian Mountain Brewing. Wicked Weed will have their XL whiskey barrel-aged Peppercorn Saison and Genesis Blonde Sour. Fullsteam will be contributing the Deus Ex Machina, a sour stat aged on cherries, as well as the Hop Rocks Sour IPA they brewed with Wooden Robot Brewery, which is set to open in Charlotte later this year. Rounding out the all-NC tap list will be NoDa’s Salted Caramel Stout, Steel String’s Zupfen Gose, Burial Skillet Donut Stout and Natty Greene’s Brett IPA.

For the fifth year in a row, The Liberty will be hosting “The Lost Founders” event in their private downstairs room at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24. They will be pouring rare Founders beers like CBS, KBS and Breakfast Stout (as well as some aged bottles of those last two). Pay by the pint or flight.

Both the South End and Plaza Midwood Common Market locations will be bringing back their well-known events. For the South End location, that means Freak Fest — a mini festival held from 6-11 p.m. on Thursday, March 26. Freak Fest features “fire twirlers, light bulb eaters, suspension, drag show” and other assorted oddities. The Plaza Midwood location (which just remodeled its bar) will once again host its annual Rumble in the Alley, wherein 15 North Carolina breweries will compete in a blind tasting competition. For $25, you get in between 6-7:30 p.m. to judge these beers blind and vote for your favorites. The winner will be crowned at 7:30 p.m., after which you can continue to drink until the kegs are gone. DJ ThatGuySmitty will be providing the music.

Of course, there are several other events — including many new, first-time happenings — that you can find here. Many breweries and bars are putting on their own events that may not be listed on the official page, so keep an eye out for those.

The official closer of the week for the second year in a row will be the All Ale to the Queen beer carnival, held Saturday, March 28 at Amos’ Southend. Like last year, you can expect such sideshows as jugglers, acrobats, hula hoopers, glass eaters and belly dancers. There are two sessions, tickets for which can be purchased at www.allaletothequeen.com.

North Carolina Brewers Celebration on Saturday, June 27

North Carolina Brewers Celebration

All About Beer Magazine, in conjunction with the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild, will present the North Carolina Brewers Celebration, held at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte on Saturday, June 27. The festival will feature around 50 North Carolina breweries, plus samples from local farmers, retailers and beer stores.

General admission tickets for the festival are $45 and include a 4-ounce commemorative glass and unlimited samples of more than 150 beers from 1-5 p.m. VIP tickets are $70 and provide the aforementioned samples, early entry at noon, a festival gift, and access to 20-30 limited beers not available to general admission ticket holders, plus access to private bathrooms and an air-conditioned lounge in the club level.

Tickets for the North Carolina Brewers Celebration will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 26 at NCBrewersCelebration.com.

The Durham-based All About Beer Magazine also puts on the World Beer Festival events every year in Durham, Raleigh, Columbia, SC and Cleveland, Ohio.

The Fussy Pumpkin and Peach Craft Beer Brew Off at D9 Brewing on April 25

Remember Budweiser’s Super Bowl ad, wherein they poked fun at craft beer drinkers who fussed over their “pumpkin peach ales“?

D9 Brewing in Cornelius wants to have a little fun of their own, and for a great cause. The brewery is inviting area homebrewers to submit their own pumpkin and peach beers in The Fussy Pumpkin and Peach Craft Beer Brew Off, which will be held at the brewery from 2-10 p.m. on Saturday, April 25.

It is free for homebrewers to submit their beers. For the price of a pint, anyone who visits D9 Brewing that day can sample the various homebrews and vote on their favorite. The winning homebrewer will get to brew their recipe on the brewery’s pilot batch system as part of D9′s “Community Brew” series.

While the event is a fun way for area homebrewers to fire back at Budweiser’s Super Bowl ad, it’s much more than that. It will also raise funds for the Purvis family. Two years ago, Jim and Shawna Purvis’s sixteen-year-old daughter Shelby was diagnosed with  High-Risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She spent the next year quarantined at home, or at a clinic receiving chemotherapy.

Two years have passed, and Shelby — now eighteen — hasn’t let her diagnosis stop her from serving others. Her efforts raising funds for charities like Hope Cancer and the Make-A-Wish Foundation led to her being nominated as Woman of the Year by the Leukemia and Lymphomas Society. Shelby will graduate high school this summer and undergo her final treatment on July 29.

So in addition to the beer and food trucks, you can also expect to see representatives from the Be The Match bone marrow registry, Alex’s Lemonade Stand (they fund childhood cancer research) and Ace and TJ’s Grin Kids. When the winning homebrewer’s beer is later tapped at the brewery, all proceeds will go to the Purvis family.

The Fussy Pumpkin and Peach Craft Beer Brew Off

An Elaboration on Collaborations

Earlier today, I posted about Birdsong Brewing and Hi-Wire Brewing collaborating on a beer, which will be released Friday. And a couple months ago, I wrote about The Boozehound, a collaboration between Triple C Brewing and Sycamore Brewing that was tapped on Valentine’s Day.

Well, these breweries aren’t the only ones feeling the collaborative spirit. This Thursday, March 12, NoDa Brewing is doing something they’ve never done before: brewing two collaborations with two different breweries and in two different cities. Head brewer Chad Henderson is out in Portland, Oregon, where he will be brewing an Imperial IPA with Ben Edmunds at Breakside Brewery. The beer will feature 180 pounds of NC honey and 180 pounds of Oregon honey. Both breweries know a thing or two about IPAs: last year NoDa Brewing won gold at the World Beer Cup for its Hop Drop ‘n Roll, and Breakside won gold at the Great American Beer Festival for its Breakside IPA. This collaboration beer will make its debut at the Craft Brewers Conference in April (and will find its way into NoDa’s taproom in late April as well).

While Henderson and Edmunds are pouring 360 pounds of honey into a massive Imperial IPA, NoDa’s lead brewer, Bart Roberts, will be across town brewing a hoppy bock with Lenny Boy’s John Watkins. This one will later be brewed at NoDa as well, and both versions will use organic malts. Roberts and Watkins are just two of a handful of brewers who worked at Charlotte’s Alternative Beverage homebrew store, so this will be a reunion of sorts.

Also this Thursday, Salud Beer Shop will be tapping Hop Rocks Sour IPA, a collaboration between Fullsteam Brewery in Durham and Wooden Robot Brewery, which is currently building in Charlotte’s South End.

So that’s Thursday, and a busy one. Then this Saturday morning, Kevin Kozak and Kelsie Cole from Wilmington’s Front Street Brewery are making the trip to NoDa to brew an oyster stout — but this is not the same one you might have had in previous years. This one will be a 9 percent ABV, imperial version of that beer brewed to celebrate Front Street’s 20th anniversary. And instead of being called “Mother Shucker,” this one will be called “Muthah Shuck Yo Mouth.”

 

Birdsong Brewing and Hi-Wire Brewing collaborate on “Bird on a Wire”

Hi-Wire and Birdsong Bird on a Wire Collaboration

Last month, Birdsong Brewing’s Conor Robinson made the drive up to Asheville to brew a collaboration beer with Hi-Wire Brewing. That beer — a peated Wee Heavy ale called “Bird on a Wire” — will be released at both breweries this Friday, March 13. They will retail for $8 a 22-ounce bottle, with a two-bottle limit per person.

Employees from the two breweries met last year at the Craft Brewers Conference in Denver. Robinson and Luke Holgate, the head brewer at Hi-Wire, were at Great Divide Brewing Co. discussing what they had learned at their seminars when they realized they had very similar brewing styles. They even talked of doing a collaboration, though at the time it was more of a joke since both breweries were at capacity and doing everything they could to brew their own beers.

A few months ago, though, the breweries got back in touch and decided it was time to revisit the idea of a collaboration beer. Both Robinson and Holgate are Scotch drinkers, and so the decision to brew a Wee Heavy — and  especially one with some peaty notes — was an easy one.

The beer will be on draft and available in bottles at 4:30 p.m. this Friday when Birdsong opens their doors. It will also hit local accounts closer to Charlotte Craft Beer Week, which runs March 20-28.

New Duckworth’s Uptown to open on Monday, March 2

The new, uptown Duckworth's will open to the public on Monday, March 2.

In 2004, Rob Duckworth built the first of the five restaurants that share his name. This original Duckworth’s — located in Mooresville — offered a menu of Philly cheesesteaks, hand-cut fries and ice cream.

And while that sounds like a winning trio, the ice cream just wasn’t moving. After about a year in business, Duckworth decided to part ways with the sweet stuff. But what to do with all of the ice cream freezers?

He already had the cold storage space, and it didn’t take much work to convert those old freezers to coolers. Soon he was swapping chocolate ice cream for chocolate stouts. In the decade since, Duckworth has applied this same craft beer focus to four more locations.

The latest, located right at the intersection of Tryon and 7th St., opens this Monday, March 2. Despite it being brand-new, the building — which was constructed in 1912 — actually has an older, more historic feel to it than the older locations.

Of course, the building does have a history, and one that Duckworth’s will be continuing. It was once home to Jonathan’s Uptown Bar and Restaurant (and Jonathan’s Jazz Cellar) in the early ’90s, before the owners of Dilworth Brewing opened Atlantic Beer and Ice Co. there in 1994. That business gave way to Fox and Hound, which was the previous tenant prior to Duckworth’s moving in.

While the building has some history, you might not have known it if you went in while it was Fox and Hound. That bar covered the old brick with sheetrock, and hid the thick floor joists with drop ceilings. Fortunately, Duckworth saw the value in bringing some of these elements back to life.

All of this is juxtaposed by new paint, fixtures and modern amenities as well. If you want to watch a game uptown, I’m not sure you could find a bad spot at Duckworth’s. New flat-screen TVs are everywhere, hanging above the tables, the booths, the bar.

How many? “Too many,” said Duckworth, who noted there are upwards of 180 screens spread across the two floors. The only thing that might rival the number of TVs are the taps: there are 150 behind the bar on the main level, 16 self-serve taps on the second floor, and 20 more down in the basement.

The kegs supplying those taps are stored on the second floor in three separate glass-lined coolers, each with its own temperature range to allow the bar to pour different styles at their appropriate temperatures. And while this building has held its share of bars, none of them had their coolers on the second floor. These massive coolers and their accompanying kegs added 92,000 pounds of weight to the upper level. Burly as those old floor joists are, they just weren’t up to the task. Duckworth had steel I-beams installed for extra support, and even added a small elevator that allows them to bring up kegs with ease.

Head to the basement and through a dungeon-esque door and you’ll find The Cellar at Duckworth’s, which is not yet open (Duckworth anticipates an early May opening date). While the menu on the upper levels will be identical to other Duckworth’s (think cheesesteaks, pizza, sandwiches and salads), the cellar’s menu will be comprised of local ingredients and small plates. Because they hope to source many ingredients locally, the menu will change seasonally. From twenty taps will pour more exclusive beers, and they will also use style-specific glassware.

There will be two 50″ screens in the cellar, though unlike the TVs upstairs they won’t be showing any sporting events. No, these will display information on the 20 beers on tap, including ABV, style and what volume is left in the keg. That limited barrel-aged stout you’ve been looking for is on, but will kick after just a few more pints. Better get it quick.

This booth is tucked into the walls down in The Cellar at Duckworth's. Best seat in the house?

The Cellar at Duckworth's will offer a very different ambiance than the floors above it. Look for it to open in early May.

The leather is new, the brick and plaster are definitely not.

Triple C Brewing to release Chocolate Covered Pretzel Stout on Saturday, Feb. 21

Triple C Brewing Chocolate Covered Pretzel Stout

This Saturday, Feb. 21, Triple C Brewing is releasing bottles of its Chocolate Covered Pretzel Stout at the taproom when they open at noon. They will retail for $14 a piece there, and will hit area bottle shops beginning the following Monday.

The chocolate component of the beer is derived from cacao nibs. And the pretzels? No, the guys at Triple C Brewing didn’t just sling a bag of Snyder’s into the mash. Instead, they mimicked the toasty, bready flavor of pretzels by using German Pilsner, Special B, White Wheat and Chocolate Wheat in the grain bill. It’s not as easy to replicate the saltiness, though, and so Triple C ended up adding the salt to the boil and to the brite tank. To top it all off, the beer also spent time in bourbon barrels from Heaven Hill distilleries.

This beer is the latest to come out of the brewery’s barrel program, which last year produced The Dude Imbibes, The Force (a rum barrel-aged Tripel), Barrel-Aged Up All Night, and Barrel-Aged Imperial Smoked Amber. In addition to their growing collection of barrels, the brewery is in the midst of an expansion that includes a grain silo, chiller, mill room, additional fermenting tanks and a canning line. The first beers packaged on that line will be 3C IPA and Golden Boy Blonde Ale, cans for which are already in the building.

The Unknown Brewing Co.’s Birthday Celebration – Saturday, Feb. 21

The Unknown Brewing Co. will celebrate their first year with a birthday bash from 4-10 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 21. Admission to this event is $10, which gets you a pint of your choice (part of the proceeds will also go to the Shepard’s Center for Spinal Research). Live music will be on hand thanks to Radio Lola, Bubonik Funk and Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, and The Tin Kitchen, Masterbacon and Bleu Barn Bistro food trucks will be parked outside.

In addition to their core beers, founder Brad Shell has brewed up a few specialty beers for the event. Some of these beers may not be ready by this Saturday, so the following list is tentative:

  • A nitro tap of Krash the Kremlin Russian Imperial Stout
  • A cask of Silverback Stout
  • Barrel-Aged Teleporter
  • Scratch and Sniff Session IPA
  • Fire Down Below Sriracha Amber
  • Tickle My Belly Raspberry Wheat Sour
  • Mole Stout (as in the sauce, not the animal)
  • Snowball’s Chance in Hell, a white IPA brewed with habanero peppers
  • You’re An Oxymoron, the “world’s first session barleywine.”
  • Foxy Cleopatra, a light brown wheat ale with chocolate and cinnamon
  • Battle o’ the Shirts Scotch Ale (this will be the brewery’s next big batch)

Unknown Brewing Birthday

Abari Game Bar coming to NoDa

Abari Game Bar Charlotte

Get your quarters ready: Abari Game Bar is set to open this April at 1721 North Davidson St. in NoDa.

“I love games,” said founder Zach Pulliam. “I’ve loved them my entire life. After I saw the original Barcade in Brooklyn, I knew this is something I would love to do.”

Brooklyn’s Barcade opened in 2004 and is just one of the many bar arcades that have been popping up all over the nation, allowing visitors to enjoy today’s craft beer with yesterday’s arcade games. The idea of starting a bar arcade has weighed heavily on Pulliam’s mind for some time, and he has finally decided to open one of his own after talking with others who have done the same (such as Joystick Gamebar in Atlanta).

Located between NoDa Brewing and Birdsong Brewing’s new, yet-to-open brewery, Abari will fill its eight taps with beers from Charlotte breweries as well as others across North Carolina. They will also offer cocktails.

And the games? Pulliam plans to have a mix of 20 arcades and pinball machines, with most from the late ’70s up into the early ’90s. There’s a Turtles in Time arcade, which I remember playing quite a bit of back in the day. Ms. Pac-Man and Baby Pac-Man, too. And if you’re more of a pinball wizard, there’s Whirlwind, Nightmare on Elm Street and X-Men machines waiting for you.

Speaking of X-Men, one of the games Pulliam is most excited about is a six-player X-Men arcade game.

To see Abari Game Bar’s progress before their (anticipated) April opening, follow them on Facebook. You can also visit their website, though right now you’ll just find their logo and some Super Mario Bros. sound effects sure to trigger a wave of nostalgia.

Charlotte breweries compete at Battle of the Brews on April 18

Battle of the Brews Charlotte

The Battle of the Brews, presented by The 704 Project, will take place on Saturday, April 18 from 3-6 p.m. The event is similar to a typical beer festival, but with a twist: attendees get to vote on their favorite beers, and the brewery with the most votes will receive a $1,000 cash prize and a title belt.

The event was first held back in October 2012 at All American Pub. This year it will be held at 100 W. Park Ave., which is the lot where SouthEnd’s popular Food Truck Friday events are held. And there will be food trucks at the Battle of the Brews, as well as live music, local artists and other exhibitors. The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery won the inaugural event and opted to donate its $1,000 prize back to Charlotte Public Tree Fund, which was the charity The 704 Project was sponsoring that year.

This year, all proceeds will benefit Charlotte’s Friendship Gardens. The 704 Project is “a social giving circle, founded to inspire philanthropy and promote community engagement in the Charlotte area through collective event fund raisers and cooperative service opportunities.”

Tickets are $40 and available here. You can find more information at the Battle of the Brews website.