Wooden Robot Brewery signs lease in SouthEnd

Wooden Robot BreweryWooden Robot Brewery has signed a lease on a 5,700-square-foot location at 1440 South Tryon Street, Suite 110, about a block away from Common Market in SouthEnd and a quick walk from the Bland Street light rail stop.

Here, they will have a 1,500-square-foot taproom and a 15-barrel brewhouse (for comparison, this is the size of NoDa Brewing’s current brewhouse).

The name “Wooden Robot” is a bit of an oxymoron. In a press release, president and head brewer Dan Wade explained the meaning behind it.

“Wooden Robot represents the blending of seemingly disparate elements into a wonderful union,” Wade said. “The wood represents the brewing tradition that inspires us: high quality ingredients, expressive yeast strains, and extended aging in oak barrels. The robot represents innovation: the unique, creative beers that we craft using these traditional methods and ingredients.”

Wade was previously employed with Swamp Head Brewery in Gainesville, Florida. Before this he worked for Rogue, where he heard lots of stories of one Brad Shell, who had left Rogue a few months prior. Brad founded The Unknown Brewing Company, and now these two ships in the night will be working right down the road from each other.

I recently met Wade at a North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild media event, and he described the brewery’s focus as “urban farmhouse.” It’s a term that Asheville’s Burial Beer Co. also uses, showing that even a brewery smack-dab in the middle of a city can still take a rustic approach to brewing.

The brewery will take much of their inspiration from Belgium, drawing upon that rich tradition to brew “drinkable saisons, unique hoppy Belgian ales, and innovative wood-aged and wild beers.”

They will now start designing the brewery with construction following soon. Wooden Robot is shooting to open in spring of 2015. Follow their progress on Facebook and Twitter.

Barking Duck Brewing to open in Mint Hill on Tuesday, Sept. 2

Barking Duck Brewing Company
Ass Clown Brewing’s Matt Glidden did more than sell Josh Carl and Jacob Reynolds a kegerator. He, along with his Cornelius neighbors from D9 Brewing, inspired the two to open a nanobrewery. They will open Barking Duck Brewing at 8037-C Fairview Road in Mint Hill this Tuesday, Sept. 2 from 4-10 p.m.

“Matt helped us out a lot in the early stages. And the guys at D9 Brewing have kind of been our big brothers, so to speak,” said Carl.

D9 Brewing opened a small taproom with a one-barrel brewery last November. Now, less than a year later, D9 Brewing is poised to open a much larger brewery on Saturday, Sept. 13.

Though they have been busy these last few months in preparation of the grand opening, the guys at D9 Brewing have given Carl and Reynolds lots of advice on going the nano route. The Brewers Association does not have a definition for nanobreweries, but most consider them to be breweries that  brew no more than three barrels of beer at a time (a barrel is the equivalent of 31 gallons).

The system at Barking Duck is even smaller, as they are brewing double batches on a half-barrel system and then fermenting in four one-barrel fermenters. Their 1,000-square-foot space is located behind a Food Lion in a strip of connected brick buildings, each looking much the same as the ones beside it.

When you open the roll-up door at Barking Duck Brewing, however, it reveals a small taproom divided by a half-wall with a bar top. Walls alternate between green, orange and gray, and on this latter shade is a chalkboard to display information about the beers. There are a few tables and chairs, past which sits the four-tap kegerator.

It poured many a pint at Ass Clown Brewing before Matt Glidden upgraded to a whopping 32 taps. At Barking Duck, Carl and Reynolds plan to open with just three core beers before later experimenting with other styles. Their flagship Banamber was actually a happy accident. Instead of picking up an American ale yeast before brewing an amber, Reynolds accidentally bought a Belgian yeast, which imbued the beer with the banana and clove notes more typical of some Belgian styles. They liked it, and others did too; it was their most popular beer at the All Ale to the Queen beer festival last March.

The other two core beers will be a milk stout called Big Belly Stout and Halfsies DIPA, which straddles the line between a single and double IPA. Soon they hope to brew a Jasmine Saison and give their Banamber a peanut butter treatment.

Carl and Reynolds have been brewing together for quite a while, picking up the hobby after they moved back from Western Carolina University, where they were roommates. Opening a nanobrewery was appealing to them because it didn’t require the financial investment that a much larger brewery and taproom would require.

“We came straight out of our pockets for it,” said Reynolds. “We haven’t got investors, we haven’t got big bank loans or anything. We’ve just done what we can to make it work.”

Going small does come with a price. It limits the amount of beer they can produce, and thus serve and sell in a taproom with a maximum occupancy of twenty people. As a result, the two won’t be quitting their full-time jobs at American Airlines anytime soon. Instead, they will open up the taproom from 4-10 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and then from 12-10 p.m. on Saturdays. They’re brewing small batches in a small town, but they have big plans for Barking Duck.

NC Brewers Collaborate on “North Carolina Gose West”

North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild

Denver’s Great American Beer Festival on Oct. 2-4 is fast approaching, and the NC Craft Brewers Guild wants to put the state’s best foot forward at this prestigious event.

More than twenty NC brewers will come together this weekend at Mystery Brewing Co. to brew a beer using only ingredients sourced from the Old North State. The beer is called “North Carolina Gose West,” and as the name suggests it will be a Gose, that sour and salty wheat beer that is becoming increasingly popular in the craft beer community. Going into this beer will be barley and wheat from Asheville’s Riverbend Malt House; muscadine grapes from Lu Mil Vineyard in Dublin, NC; fresh hops from several NC hop farms; and Outer Banks sea salt from Southern Shores, NC.

Charlotte’s NoDa Brewing recently released their “What Gose Round,” and they will be among the breweries participating in this collaborative brew, which is a first for the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild. Dan Wade and Josh Patton from Wooden Robot Brewery, which is currently negotiating for a space in Charlotte’s SouthEnd, will also journey to Hillsborough to brew this weekend.

The public is invited to come celebrate this collaboration at Mystery Brewing’s Public House on Aug. 23. You’ll have a chance to mingle with participating breweries and try some of their beers at the event, which is a fundraiser for the guild. The rally starts at 4 p.m., and at 5 p.m. a panel of brewers will take the stage to answer questions from the audience. At 8 p.m., Andrew Kasab will be playing some harp guitar.

“North Carolina Gose West” will be tapped at the Great American Beer Festival between Oct. 2-4 in the Guild Pavilion area. It will also be available at the World Beer Festival in Durham on Oct. 11., and it will be on tap at participating breweries throughout September and October.

The full list of NC breweries participating breweries includes:

  • Bull City Burger and Brewery
  • Carolina Brewery
  • Carolina Brewing Company
  • Compass Rose Brewery
  • Deep River Brewing
  • Double Barley Brewing
  • Gizmo Brew Works
  • Lonerider
  • Mystery Brewing
  • NoDa Brewing
  • Ponysaurus Brewing
  • Bombshell Brewing
  • RCC Center for Brewing Sciences
  • Top of the Hill Brewery
  • Triangle Brewing Co.
  • Regulator Brewing
  • Wooden Robot Brewery


Bottles and Cans at The Unknown Brewing Co.

Since they started brewing on the big system this past February, The Unknown Brewing Company has been putting their beer into kegs, which have made their way as far west as Asheville and as far east as Wilmington.

Now that they have dialed in some of these beers, they’re ready to get their beer to market in bottles and cans as well.

They have purchased their own canning line, which is set to arrive in December. Until then, they’ll entrust the job to Land of the Sky Mobile Canning, which has canned beers for NoDa Brewing, Pisgah Brewing, Quest Brewing, Frog Level Brewing and several more.

The first of Unknown’s beer to find its way into cans will be the brewery’s Over the Edge IPA.  Like other craft brewers, Unknown went with cans because they protect beer from oxygen and light, and can go places glass cannot. But more than this, they can also go to accounts with few or no taps.

“Really the goal for us is to have cans bring us into so many markets that we can’t bring drafts in,” said founder Brad Shell. “Also cans you can take to the beach, half-barrels you can’t. I’d like to see someone drag a half-barrel out onto the beach.”

The brewery’s first canning day will be Thursday, Aug. 21, and you can pick them up at the taproom that night. They should hit bottle shops on Tuesday, Aug. 26. The MSRP on six-packs will be $10.99.

The brewery is also putting their Vehopciraptor double IPA into the screen-printed bottles above. This 9.9 percent double IPA is brewed with seven different types of hops, thrown it at nine different points in the hopping schedule. All those hops come at a price. Brad has worked at Rogue, Terrapin and Sweetwater, and he says that this is the most expensive beer he has ever brewed.

Staff will sign the first hundred bottles, and the beer will be released on Friday, Aug. 29 at the taproom before hitting shops across the state on Sept. 5. Bottles will be $14 in the taproom.

There are only 150 cases available that will be distributed across the state, and members of the Fearless Society — the brewery’s new membership program — will have first dibs at the bottles. Fearless Society members also receive discounts on merchandise, an invitation to an annual party, and advance notice on brewery events. You can sign up here.

And the bottles and cans aren’t the only changes coming to Unknown. Soon they will be replacing some of the windows out front with roll-up doors to create a patio space.

NoDa Brewing taps Gordgeous on Monday, Aug. 18

When Chad Henderson first brewed Gordgeous as a homebrewer,  he mashed the grains in a gigantic 74-pound pumpkin.

That was before he became the head brewer at NoDa Brewing, at which point he was unable to find a pumpkin large enough to accommodate their much larger batches. The folks at NoDa Brewing did work it into the production schedule, though, and it’s been a popular fall seasonal ever since.

The spices in the beer have remained the same since Chad’s inaugural effort, with allspice, cardamom, cloves, ginger and brown sugar providing those familiar fall flavors against a backdrop of real pumpkin. At its base, the beer is a red ale fermented with a Scottish ale yeast that brings the beer to a 6.3 percent ABV.

The beer will be released in the taproom on Monday, Aug. 18. The next day, the beer will make its way to Charlotte bars and restaurants, while back at the taproom they will tap a vanilla and hazelnut-infused version of Gordgeous.

And even if you think it’s too early for pumpkin beers, watch the video above anway. That we’re talking fall beers in August is not lost on Chad, who puts it thus: “Since it is summertime I know what most of you guys are already thinking about – Exactly how much pumpkin beer can I slam down my face while it’s still 95 degrees outside?”

Triple C Brewing and Heist Brewery celebrate two years on Saturday, Aug. 23

Two of Charlotte’s breweries are turning two, and both are celebrating with anniversary parties on Saturday, Aug. 23.

Triple C Brewing will have live music from 1-6 p.m., starting with Mojo Ruckus before Love Canon — whom you might’ve seen at Brawley’s Black and Blue — starts at 3 p.m. Sauceman’s will be cooking up barbecue. They will also be tapping several new beers. On Friday, they’ll tap Barrel-aged Imperial Smoked Amber, The Force Belgian Tripel, and Cajun Stout. On Saturday, they’ll tap Coming In Hops as well as regular and barrel-aged versions of Up All Night Breakfast Porter.

Triple C Second Anniversary

Heist Brewery will celebrate with multiple small-batch releases as well, plus they will have a bouncy house and a huge water balloon fight in the parking lot. Live music will be provided by Josh Daniels and the Mark Schimick Project,

Heist Brewery Second Anniversary


Sour and Wild Beer Ed at Growlers Pourhouse

Growlers Pourhouse hosts Beer Ed at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month. On Aug. 5, the monthly tasting will focus on sour and wild beers.

They will pour four sours: NoDa Brewing’s What Gose Round; Anderson Valley’s The Kimmie, The Yink and The Holy Gose; Victory Wild Devil; and Bell’s Oarsman.

And it’s not just sour beers — Charlotte’s Pickleville pickles will also be in house.

Growlers Pourhouse Sour and Wild Beer Education

Photo courtesy Growlers Pourhouse.

Craft Chicks Hustle Harder at The Unknown Brewing Co. – Aug. 23

Unknown Brewing Craft Chicks Hustle Harder
The Unknown Brewing Co. is celebrating women in beer with an event entitled “Craft Chucks Hustle Harder” from 2-8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23 to benefit the Pink Boots Society, which helps “women beer professionals to advance their careers in the beer industry through education.” And though this event celebrates the women of craft beer, the brewery encourages guys to come out as well.

Tickets are just $10, can be purchased the day of, and get you a beer of your choice as well as the following (directly from Unknown Brewing):

  • Chef Rochelle on site from QC Pantry sampling homemade pimento cheese and sliders
  • The high-flying ladies of Aerial CLT performing aerial art demos
  • Alchemy the Workshop offering makeup and hair tips
  • The Charlotte Roller Girls hosting our relay race open to all attendees to participate
  • Radio Lola, The Waves, and Grown Up Avenger Stuff rocking the event all day with live music
  • Avant Garland Designs in the brewery showcasing her handmade jewelry for sale
  • Chef Tara with Bleu Barn Bistro on site cooking up tasty grub for purchase
  • Women’s home brew competition! Attendees can visit each home brew station, sample never-before-tasted beer from 6 competitors, and vote for a winner. The styles will vary as we are challenging the brewers to get creative!
  • And we’ll be tapping a special keg just for the event brewed by the Charlotte Beer Babes
  • and more to come!


Charlotte Oktoberfest Tickets on Sale Now

Charlotte Oktoberfest 2014 - Charlotte Beer Festival

Tickets for the 16th annual Charlotte Oktoberfest — held at the NC Music Factory on Saturday, Sept. 27 – are on sale now.

Presented by the Carolina BrewMasters, Charlotte’s non-profit homebrew club, the event is the largest Charlotte beer festival of the year. As in years past, there are two ticket options: general admission tickets are $45 and allow for entry between 2-6 p.m.; premier admission tickets are $65 and allow you to get in at 12:30 p.m. Premier ticket holders also have the chance to join guided beer tours that take place throughout the day, starting at 1:30 p.m.

Breweries are still being added to the brewery list, which already features more than 20 NC breweries. Ultimately, festival organizers expect to feature 350 different beers from more than 100 breweries. In addition to a strong showing of local and regional breweries, one of the festival’s main draws is the homebrew section. Here, homebrew clubs from around the region bring their best — and they are often some of the festival’s most memorable beers.

There will be live music provided by U-Phonik and StellaRising.

Over the years, the festival has allowed the Carolina BrewMasters to donate more than $500,000 to local charities (they raised $75,000 last year alone). They’re able to do this thanks to the Carolina BrewMasters and a veritable army of volunteers. This year, the festival will benefit Kids Rein, Classroom Central and Camp CARE.

Follow the festival’s Facebook and Twitter pages for updates in the weeks leading up to the festival.

Tap Takeover Thursday

Tonight is the night of tap takeovers in Charlotte (and especially southeast Charlotte).

• Carolina Beer Temple welcomes out Aviator Brewing Company for discounts on pints and flights of the following: Bad Beach Wheat Ale, Hog Wild IPA, 919 Pale Ale, McGritty’s Scottish Ale and Big Albert Belgian Ale.

• All of the taps at Vintner Wine Market will be pouring beers from Founders Brewing Co., including the elusive KBS. There will be a few bottles of this one for purchase as well, starting at 6:30 p.m. The full taplist includes: All Day IPA, Centennial IPA, Dry-Hopped Pale Ale, Red’s Rye IPA, Barrel-Aged Red’s Rye IPA, Double Trouble, Devil Dancer, Porter, Oatmeal Nitro Stout, Imperial Stout, Curmudgeon, Sweet Repute, Dirty Bastard, Rubaeus and a Randall that has yet to be announced.

• At Custom Home Pubs monthly tap takeover, you can get a pint glass and unlimited samples for $10. This month, they’re featuring beers from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, which will host a huge festival at their new NC brewery this Sunday. On tap tonight will be Ovila Abbey Saison, Kellerweis, Bigfoot Barleywine, Narwhal Imperial Stout, Pale Ale, Southern Hemisphere, Foam Pilsner (brewed for Phish concerts) and Tater Ridge (collaboration with the Asheville Brewers Alliance).