North Carolina Goes West…and Dominates: The Great American Beer Festival

I made the pilgrimage. I went to The Great American Beer Festival last week in Denver, Colorado.

Of course, it was delicious and fun. Of course, you should go. Of course, I had all the rare beers.

But the experience was also filled with surprises. Three days prior to the festival I was offered a Wicked Weed beer at a barbecue joint in Boulder. Our waiter met my surprise with a cool, “Oh, it’s our third Wicked Weed keg.” Fast forward to a conversation with Certified Cicerone© Chris Westgard of Crafty Beer Guys, and I learn that many breweries around the country opt to distribute in popular beer cities in addition to or sometimes in lieu of local distribution. The delicious, agriculturally-focused Fonta Flora in Morganton practices this distribution method.

[Side note: It’s just another example of how there is no one right way to be in the beer business and the importance of leaving growth and distribution choices to each brewery regardless of production.]

Medals, Medals, and More Medals!

First, the medal count. North Carolina’s success this year is unprecedented. Seventeen and the best Very Small Brewing Company and Brewer of the Year (Brown Truck Brewery in High Point, opened in 2016 and yes the taproom is open daily!)

Seventeen medals. Only three states took home more: California (68), Colorado (38), and Oregon (21), which are home to some of the most popular and experienced breweries in the nation. North Carolina is a major player.


In the  Charlotte-area, D9 Brewing Company (Cornelius) won Gold for Experimental Beer with Dry Hopped Systema of Naturae – Scuppernong & Lily and NoDa Brewing (Charlotte) won Gold for Herb and Spice Beer with NoDajito.  Suzie Ford, president of NoDa, was particularly excited for NoDajito winning gold, as it “makes us even more excited to get in and put our own twist on traditional styles; that’s what the NoDable Series is all about. Beer is fun and winning for NoDajito, a truly fun beer, reminded us of that.”

It was also a fantastic festival for some of our state’s older breweries, who have paved the way for the Wicked Weeds, Crank Arms, and Birdsongs out there. Foothills Brewing (Winston-Salem) won Bronze for Bohemian-Style Pilsner with Torch Pilsner, Olde Hickory (Hickory) won Gold for Old Ale or Strong Ale with Irish Walker and Silver for Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout with The Event Horizon, and Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery (Farmville) won Silver for Sweet Stout or Cream Stout with the classic Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout.

The Festival Hall: Where the Beer is Poured!

If you’ve not attended, the hall is divided up by regions, except for a Meet the Brewer area (where NoDa was located so participants could talk to Head Brewer Chad Henderson) and an area for state brewery guilds to answer questions about their state’s beer industry and try local beers that didn’t get a spot on the festival hall floor. Executive Director Margo Metzger of the NC Craft Brewers Guild was at the NC table the first night pouring Gibb’s Hundred, Ponysaurus, New Sarum, Wooden Robot, and others who did not have a table on the hall floor.

Now with 780 breweries in the festival hall, grabbing an attendee’s attention is a little like a book cover trying to capture the attention of someone roaming around a Barnes and Nobles. And despite the regional labeling, within regions there seems to be no method for where breweries are set up. For instance, an NC brewery can be found between a Florida and a Georgia brewery, not beside all the other NC breweries.


So with all this choice and volume, first impressions and visuals mattered. And entertaining brewery names don’t hurt either. Ass Clown (Cornelius) had a significant and continuous line throughout the festival, a small circular brand sign accompanying the generic festival one. Birdsong covered up the generic sign with their big red branded banner and also saw continual business, as did Catawba Brewing with a banner and flags that attracted a steady crowd. Wicked Weed, with reputation in hand, had a branded ranch-style entrance sign, a hanging hop lamp resembling their logo, and two lines consistently 20-yards long to taste regular beers and their hard-to-get sours.

NoDa and The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery were two local breweries with tables but not the branded signage and the lines did appear significantly shorter. The group I was with felt a little bummed because we love these two breweries — the people and the beer — and felt the lack of branding was detrimental to getting more people at the tables. We wondered if it had anything to do with their respective roles with Craft Freedom, opting to keep all branding efforts stateside, but it turns out, at least in NoDa’s case, sometimes a banner just gets left unpacked – accidentally – in the rush to get out to Denver. But we did see the immediate impact of NoDa winning Gold with NoDajito on Saturday morning, as the NoDa traffic increased significantly at the evening’s imbibe session.

But What About Our Other Breweries?

There were 1,752 breweries in the competition and 780 tables. So most breweries were not lucky enough to snag a spot to pour to the public. This helps explains why Legion, Triple C, D9 Brewery, and our other breweries may not have had tables in the hall. But don’t feel too bad, while consuming all the beer, mere enthusiasts can forget that the festival is also an industry gathering place for brewers and industry folk to learn and connect. I ran into Legion brewer Alexa Long at the festival who beamed over the fact that she had been able to meet with so many other brewers, attend special tastings, and expand her network and knowledge. So while I was hoping to see her pouring her beer to attendees, it proved a proud moment to know our local brewers were engaging and networking with change-makers and influencers in the $22.3 billion-dollar craft beer industry.

Final Thoughts

This was just a small slice of the whole experience. The cheese, the hands-on learning opportunities, the Draught Quality Summit — did I mention the cheese? It is a fantastic three-day event. And for those planning to go next year, as you might imagine, each night gets a bit rowdier, more volunteers and less brewery staff at tables, more costumes, more daytime pre-gaming the event. For those who homebrew or are into sensory experiences, follow the Brewers Association and Cicerone© organization. The big guys and gals are all there, happily willing to chat.

But my main takeaway is that North Carolina is a craft beer state. I encourage you to all check out a few breweries this coming weekend and say, “Thank you.” They did us proud.

Beth Salyers is a freelance writer based in Charlotte. She can be reached at

Charlotte Oktoberfest postponed until 2017

Charlotte Oktoberfest

The Carolina BrewMasters, a local homebrew club that presents the Charlotte Oktoberfest every year, has announced today there will be no 2016 festival. In an announcement they cited a number of issues in finding a suitable site for this year’s festival, including “construction, parking, safety, and other nearby events.”

It’s sad news, not only because such a popular and well-run festival is taking a hiatus but also for all the good the BrewMasters do with the proceeds from the festival. You can read about those in the full announcement from the Carolina BrewMasters, available here.

Birdsong Brewing to expand into Western North Carolina market

Birdsong Brewing Charlotte

Birdsong Brewing

We get so much good Asheville beer here in Charlotte that it only seems fair to share. Birdsong Brewing just announced in a press release their plans to distribute into Western North Carolina via an agreement with Skyland Distributing Company.

While the brewery plans to continue self-distributing its beer locally, they have partnered with Skyland to distribute their beers primarily in the Asheville area (and in counties west of Gaston Co. as well). In the press release, brewery manager Chris Goulet described the move as “a natural extension of our brand in an area that feels like a second home to us.”

Indeed, the brewery’s name came after Goulet and his wife mistook head brewer Conor Robinson’s snores for birdsong while staying at a hostel in Asheville (learn how other Charlotte breweries got their names here).

Of course, the city is seen as one of the best beer markets in the state. Birdsong will join that market in May, when kegs of their most popular beers — including Free Will Pale Ale, Lazy Bird Brown Ale and Jalapeño Pale Ale — begin hitting bars. Cans of those last two will make their way to Asheville as well, and some of the breweries seasonals should follow later.

Blue Blaze Brewing gets its building permit

Building Permit

Blue Blaze Brewing’s co-founders Sven Giersmann and Craig Nunn with their newly-issued building permit. (Photo courtesy Blue Blaze Brewing)

Blue Blaze just got its green light.

With a building permit now in hand, Blue Blaze Brewing has released drawings of its plans for its 8,000-square-foot warehouse at 528 S. Turner Ave, beside the Savona Mill. As it stands today, the nondescript building is relatively empty; but in the months between now and a late spring or early summer opening, co-founders Craig Nunn and Sven Giersmann, as well as head brewer Steve Turner, will be quite busy.  

Blue Blaze Brewing

(Image courtesy Blue Blaze Brewing)

Outside, the industrial building will gain character through a wood awning over the entrance (with a silo coming in later, when they have a need for more grain). Large windows will be installed on both sides of the building, with the street side looking into the 15-barrel brewhouse and a row of fermenters.

Blue Blaze Brewing Interior

(Image courtesy Blue Blaze Brewing)

Inside, plans call for beer garden-style tables and seating for around 125 between the main level and a new mezzanine. Behind the bar will be 22 taps (two of them nitro) pouring a variety of beers, with Blue Blaze putting its own spin on American, German and English styles. Core beers will include an altbier, amber, milk stout, black IPA and Dortmunder lager, with more than 10 additional recipes on top of those. Most of Blue Blaze’s beers will fall below 6.5 percent ABV.

In neighborhoods like South End and NoDa, it’s all too easy to visit several breweries in a matter of hours. Here in Charlotte’s “West End,” however, that’s not the case.

“We know it will be a destination,” said Nunn. “People will have to want to come out this way.”

There have been instances of breweries bringing new businesses to an area, though. When The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery opened in an industrial area off of Old Pineville Rd. in 2009, it was the only real draw in that corridor. Now, the brewery is neighbors with another brewery, two distilleries and a bar, with a cidery coming soon. Many think the area surrounding NoDa Brewing’s North End brewery could see similar development.

There are also cases of breweries breathing new life into old mills. Twenty years ago, the Southend Brewery and Smokehouse played a big part in the Atherton Mill revitalization project. The developers behind the Savona Mill revitalization will use the Atherton Mill project from the 1990s as a template. Right now, the historic mill is boarded up and in need of repair.

Blue Blaze’s building isn’t in the mill itself, but they could be seen as an anchor tenant that would bring in additional tenants and businesses. And while the area lacks these complementary businesses that abound in other neighborhoods, Nunn believes the neighborhoods themselves are not so different.

“It’s NoDa 10-15 years ago. This community was looking for something to validate what they’ve done,” said Nunn, referring to the hard work put in by residents in Seversville and Wesley Heights. “We were expecting a few naysayers, but it’s been one big fat hug.”

In addition to wanting to put down roots in a welcoming neighborhood, Nunn and Giersmann also wanted to be close to a greenway. Lovers of the outdoors, they named the brewery after the blue blazes which mark side trails on the Appalachian Trail.

“We really wanted to be on the greenway,” said Nunn. “It wasn’t a requirement, but it was a really nice thing to have.”

The Stewart Creek Greenway stretches from just across the street to uptown, a span that can be walked in 15 minutes. By bike it’s even quicker, and Blue Blaze will take advantage of this by using custom Bullitt bicycles to deliver kegs. 

The greenway should help Blue Blaze bring its beer to others, and hopefully it’ll help bring others to its beer, too.

Blue Blaze Bikes

Blue Blaze Brewing will deliver kegs of beer using custom Bullitt bikes. (Photo by Daniel Hartis)

The site turns five years old today. Thanks for being a part of it.

Five years ago, I published my first post on

Or rather, I published my first posts on the site, all of them events-based in nature: a Big Boss beer dinner at Whiskey Warehouse, a Founders Brewing dinner at Zink, an Olde Hickory tasting at Custom Home Pubs. You can see all three on a very primitive and dated site through the magic of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

I was obsessive in those days about chronicling every little tap takeover, tasting event or beer dinner in town. When I started the site, Charlotte was home to just two local breweries: The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and Four Friends. Soon, though, I learned about NoDa Brewing and Birdsong Brewing, and had the honor of covering those breweries and so many more since.

I wish I could say I’ve covered the #cltbeer scene as exhaustively as I did in those first few days, but that hasn’t been the case. There are a few reasons for this: a full-time job; two (awesome) kids born after I started the site; columns for the Charlotte Observer and the Raleigh News and Observer; and — the best reason of all — a local beer scene that has so much going on it’s impossible to cover it all. That the beer scene has grown so much in five years makes me really proud.

Yes, some of the pages on the site are woefully outdated, and posts have been few and far between lately. I could tell you I have plans to fix that (I do), but that’s not the point of this post.

The point of this post is simply to say thank you.

When I started the site, I just wanted to aggregate and share whatever local beer happenings I could find. In so doing, though, I ended up meeting so many awesome people: brewers, bartenders, retailers, shop owners, festival promoters, and yes, just regular ol’ beer drinkers, too.

Over the last half a decade, I’ve met enough people that thanking them all here probably isn’t possible. If we’ve become friends as a result of the site and a shared passion, you know who you are! I do want to thank a few people in particular. If you’ve read Beer Lover’s the Carolinas or Charlotte Beer: A History of Brewing in the Queen City, you’ve no doubt seen the wonderful work of Eric Gaddy of Casting Shadows Photography. Eric has carved out quite a reputation as a “beertographer,” and in addition to his work I’m also grateful to have been able to travel all over the Carolinas with him in the name of beer.

A couple years ago, my friend Nick Signet helped me rebrand the website. I have no graphic design skills, and the site looked pretty bad beforehand. I kept trying to make this upside-down-crown-tulip-glass thing work (spoiler alert: it didn’t). Nick created a much more modern and visually-appealing logo, and having that sharp new logo made me even more proud of the site. I wrote a lot more as a result. I think a lot of people probably took the site a lot more seriously, too. Nick also created those cool “Drink Local” shirts you may have seen around town.

I want to thank Kathleen Purvis, food editor at the Charlotte Observer, for getting me a regular column there. What started as one short article a month has now turned into two articles a month, as well as a monthly article for the Raleigh News and Observer. Thanks for allowing me to reach a new readership and spread the stories of Charlotte beer.

Thanks to all of the breweries, bars and bottle shops in town for giving me plenty to write about over the years, and for graciously sharing your stories with me.

And thanks to you, dear reader. Seriously, I would never have started this site had it not been clear to me that — even five years ago — people were passionate about the local beer scene. And I’m not sure how long I would have kept it going without your daily reminders of that. Your comments and conversations — whether they be through e-mail, on Facebook, Twitter or (gasp!) in real life — keep me (and the site) going.

From the bottom of my glass, I offer my sincere thanks to all of you.


Daniel Hartis

Southern Range Brewing plans to open in Monroe next spring

Southern Range Brewing Logo

Roll up the garage door of the white, brick building at 151 S. Stewart St. in Monroe, and a sea of furniture greets you. Tables, chairs and headboards, all in different states of refinishing, and at their feet a layer of dust.

If Dustin Gatliff has his way, the building will furnish Southern Range Brewing next spring.

The homebrewer of six years had been looking to open a brewery for some time. He thought the 3,000-square-foot building in historic downtown Monroe would be the perfect spot for a brewery, but the landlord wasn’t prepared to start the necessary construction.

Not wanting to miss out on the property, Gatliff leased it this past summer knowing he could use the space to house his furniture-refinishing business, which recently outgrew his home garage.

“I rented it for the brewery, but knowing that I could still work out of it,” said Gatliff.

While Gatliff hasn’t yet started building the brewery itself, he has acquired a two-barrel electric brewing system from Rivermen Brewing Co. out of Belmont. A system of that size can produce about 62 gallons of beer at a time and would qualify Southern Range Brewing as a nanobrewery.

Gatliff was inspired to go the nano route after seeing smaller breweries like Barking Duck Brewing in Mint Hill and Burial Beer Co. in Asheville.

“I was like, ‘These guys are opening breweries about as small as you can get,’” Gatliff said.

One advantage of brewing on such a small scale is that the brewery will be able to cycle through a variety of styles, rather than brewing larger batches of a single beer. Of course, Gatliff will have to brew more frequently on a smaller system than some of his peers with larger systems might, but he’s eager to experiment and see what will appeal to the residents of Monroe, who have not so much as a craft beer bar to call their own.

To start, Gatliff plans to offer a Kölsch, an oatmeal stout, a pale ale, IPA and double IPA.

“I’m an IPA guy, so there will probably be a lot of experimenting there,” he said.

Gatliff considered opening a brewery in Charlotte, but fell in love with Monroe’s historic downtown after moving to the city. And the City of Monroe has been just as enthusiastic, he said.

To see the progress once furniture moves out and fermenters move in, follow the Southern Range Brewing Facebook page or sign up for updates on the brewery’s website

Southern Range Brewing in Monroe, NC

Brawley’s Beverage events: Sierra Nevada’s anniversary, Cheers Charlotte, Black and Blue 7

Brawley's Beverage

(Photo courtesy Brawley’s Beverage)

Brawley’s Beverage opened its tasting room a little more than a year ago, and they have been celebrating ever since. The tasting room has allowed the longtime Charlotte beer destination to host a variety of events over the last year, and things aren’t slowing down as we head into the holidays.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This Saturday, Nov. 14, Brawley’s is celebrating the 35th anniversary of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. And, as they are wont to do, they’re digging into the archives in honor of one of the nation’s oldest craft breweries. Starting at 11 a.m., they’ll be tapping the following kegs throughout the day:

  • Grand Cru Strong Ale (30th anniversary beer brewed in 2010)
  • Fritz and Ken’s Ale Imperial Stout (30th anniversary beer brewed in 2010)
  • Jack and Ken’s Ale Barleywine (30th anniversary beer brewed in 2010)
  • Charlie, Fred and Ken’s Bock (30th anniversary beer brewed in 2010)
  • Life and Limb Strong Ale (Batch two from 2011)
  • Maillard’s Odyssey Imperial Dark Ale (a collaboration with Bell’s Brewery from last year’s Beer Camp Across America pack)
  • Blue Baltic Porter
  • Ovila Abbey Dubbel
  • Ovila Abbey Golden with Pomegranate
  • Narwhal Imperial Stout (Vintage)
  • Bigfoot Barleywine (Vintage)

See what I mean about “digging into the archives?” It seems like just yesterday Michael Brawley was pulling out nearly 20 years of Anchor Our Special Ale for the Cheers Charlotte Christmas party (tasting notes on a few of those vintages can be found in this Charlotte Observer article). And while Brawley’s Beverage won’t be unveiling another two-decade collection of Christmas beers this year, they will once again be celebrating with the guys from Cheers Charlotte, a local podcast on beer (and other good drinks and food) in the Queen City.

This year’s Cheers Charlotte Christmas party will take place from 6-11 p.m. at Brawley’s on Saturday, Dec. 5. That date marks the 82nd anniversary of the repeal of that noble experiment called Prohibition. The big beers routinely poured at Brawley’s fly in the face of Prohibition, but that’s not to say everything is Pollyanna today. Literature about “Prohibition-era alcohol laws” will be on hand, and they are trying to get local brewery owners in the shop to talk about some of these issues (which I imagine will focus heavily on North Carolina’s self-distribution cap).

The taplist for the event is still being finalized, but they will be pulling out a keg of Founders Brewing’s Nemesis 2010. This 12 percent black barleywine is one of the shop’s rarest kegs, according to Shane Icenhour at Brawley’s. Look for more information on that party in the coming weeks.

Finally, Brawley’s Beverage has announced that tickets for Black and Blue 7  — held on Saturday, March 5 — will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 24 at The Visulite’s website. You can enter to win a couple free tickets by tagging two friends in the comments of this Instagram photo. The winner of those tickets will be announced on Nov. 25.

New Belgium and four NoDa neighborhood breweries collaborate on “Yours and Mine”

New Belgium and NoDa-area breweries collaborate on Yours and Mine Golden Ale

Brewers from Heist Brewery, Free Range Brewing, Birdsong Brewing and NoDa Brewing traveled to New Belgium to brew Yours and Mine, a beer that features ingredients from Colorado and North Carolina. (Photo courtesy New Belgium)

Brewers from Charlotte’s four NoDa neighborhood breweries — NoDa Brewing, Birdsong Brewing, Heist Brewery and Free Range Brewing — recently flew out to Colorado to brew a collaboration beer with New Belgium Brewing. Part of their Beers with Vrienden program, the beer — called Yours and Mine — was inspired by the Beers Made By Walking program, wherein brewers choose ingredients inspired by walks in nature (or sometimes urban environments).

The resulting golden ale will be brewed with ingredients inspired by walks in Colorado and North Carolina, with beet sugar and lavender from New Belgium’s grounds, Colorado sunflowers, and Scuppernongs. I’ll have more about this collaboration (and its dark side) in The Charlotte Observer next Friday, but before then you will actually have the chance to hear directly from all five participating breweries during a Google Hangout at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 9. NoDa Brewing’s been doing these Hangouts monthly, and so far they’ve been an entertaining way to stay up to date with that brewery’s goings on. You can watch live and submit questions here.  Consider it a preview to the release of the beer, which will take place at NoDa Brewing from 2-5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12. The after party is at Salud Beer Shop at 7 p.m., with Yours and Mine on tap as well as other beers from the participating breweries.

Mashing In With the Beer Community: An Interview with Charlotte’s House of Brews

House of Brews - Charlotte Homebrew Supply Store

House of Brews held a "Learn to Brew in a Bag" homebrew demonstration on Saturday, Aug. 22. (Photo by Jeff Sheerin)

If there’s one thing I can say about my past five years of enjoying beer in Charlotte, it’s the simple fact that anything craft beer-related is part of an ever blossoming beer community here in the Queen City. Homebrewing in Charlotte is definitely no exception.

By its very nature, homebrewing is a community-oriented activity, whether you’re sharing your carbonated concoctions with friends in town, or talking brewing techniques with the guys and girls at one of the local supply shops. Of course, anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit can set up a homebrew store and hustle grains and gear, but as the owners of the newest Charlotte homebrew supply shop will tell you, any shot at long-term success starts by connecting with Charlotte’s beer community. So when I sat down and talked with House of Brews owners Patrick and Heather Lewis, it was easy to see that their goals aren’t about pushing product, but all about helping Charlotte’s beer community flourish.

“We don’t have these lofty growth aspirations,” says Patrick. “For us, it’s about creating the community around us and letting that community steer us. What does the community want out of us and what can we do to serve that community?”

Much of the inspiration behind House of Brews comes from Wilmington Homebrew Supply, where Friday night homebrew tastings in their taproom and free brewing courses on the weekends are just as important as the ingredients and supplies. As Heather explains, her hope is to follow in the footsteps of Wilmington Brew Supply, at least some of the way.

“We would love to be able to open a 3-barrel system one day and have a homebrewer come in every other Sunday to brew on our system, and then spotlight their beer,” says Heather. “We also don’t think that it needs to be a $7 glass of beer. We want it to be very reasonably priced, and we want you to come in to taste what a homebrewer can do. We really want to try to shine a spotlight on some of the great homebrewers in the area.”

After opening an online store in September of 2013, House of Brews officially opened a brick and mortar store this past June, specializing in offering a wide variety of both rare and basic ingredients. Patrick says that offering unique ingredients and taking special orders is House of Brews’ “bread and butter.”

“Really for us, it’s about innovation. That’s the trend you see in the brewing industry today, and homebrewing is following suit. We do shoot for very unique products- we actually just brought in Chilean malt. For us, it’s really about what the customer is looking for. I love it when customers want new items because that means I get to bring it in and play with it too.”

Heather chimed in and mentioned that House of Brews is now carrying Vic Secret hops, a brand new Australian hop variety that was just released this year. “Anytime we see anything new, we want to bring it in,” says Heather. “If people see something out there online that they want to try, we always bring it in for them. If we don’t have what you’re looking for, we’ll order it. We’re not scared to bring in a new product. We have over 70 different hop varieties, including Equinox, Lemon Drop, and other rare hops.”

While stocking cutting edge ingredients is a huge focus for House of Brews, it’s the unforgettable customer experience that truly sets them apart, as the husband and wife explain.

“For us, it’s always about customer service,” says Patrick. If nothing else, we’ll always provide a great experience. We have a great relationship with the other homebrew shops in town, so if there’s something a customer wants that we currently don’t have in stock, we’ll reach out to other homebrew shops to see if they have it in stock. If so, we’ll send the customer right up the road to them.”

For Heather and Patrick, earning that invaluable community loyalty has been their biggest challenge and goal since opening House of Brews in September, 2013. As an example of their commitment to the Charlotte beer community, House of Brews currently shares space with the studio where the Fermentation Nation podcasts are recorded. They also plan on holding free monthly brewing education classes at their store, some in tandem with the Fermentation Nation hosts. However, these classes won’t only be focused teaching new brewers to boil, according to Patrick.

“Our goal is to have some advanced technique classes peppered in there, as well as classes for new brewers,” said Patrick. “For example, there’s the Learn to Brew in a Bag class on August 22nd at 10:00 AM with Joe from Fermentation Nation. We’re also talking to some guys looking to bring their RIMS systems up here and show how their RIMS systems function. And we actually have a few folks who are interested in doing some seminars around the malting process, as well as hop growing and how you pick hops. So we want to get into some more advanced stuff in these education classes too, that explore the science behind the art of brewing.”

When it comes to homebrewing, Patrick’s favorite beers to brew are Hefeweizens, Irish Reds, and Shelby June Peach Blonde Ale, an innovative style he first brewed two years ago to celebrate the birth of his oldest daughter, Shelby.  But like most craft beer fanatics in Charlotte, Patrick couldn’t come up with a quick answer when asked to name his favorite Charlotte beers.

“Man, that’s a tough one,” says Patrick. “One of my favorite beers in the Charlotte area is OMB Fat Boy Baltic Porter. I’m also really enjoying Red Clay Ciderworks Noreaster.”

Unlike her husband, Heather’s Charlotte beer of choice was a no-brainer- NoDa Brewing’s Cavu.

House of Brews is located on 3611 Tryclan Drive, Charlotte, NC, 28217. Their hours are Thursday and Friday from 11 AM-7 PM, Saturday 10 AM-7PM, and Sunday 10 AM-1 PM. For more information or to learn about their upcoming education classes, check out, or e-mail them at

Writer by day, beer fanatic always, Jeff Sheerin hails from Philly but proudly calls Charlotte home. When he’s not writing about beer or brewing it at home, Jeff is hanging with his pitbull-mastiff mix, riffin’ on his Gibson Les Paul, or working towards new personal strength records with the barbell. E-mail Jeff at

Bands, Brews, and BBQs at Carowinds

Carowinds Bands Brews and Barbecue

Fresh off the heels of their Taste of the Carolinas festival, Carowinds is now hosting “Bands, Brews, and BBQs” on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays beginning July 31 and ending August 16.

Each day, different bands will play between 12-4 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. As for the beer and barbecue, there will be booths throughout the park and you simply pay by the pint (or pulled pork, as it were). There’s even a booth that will feature 24 different flavors of regional barbecue sauce, but of course you’ll need only one: a good Eastern N.C. vinegar-based sauce (I’ll wait for the barbecue battle to play out in the comments).

The breweries that will be pouring in the park are as follows:

  • Holy City Brewing
  • Blowing Rock Brewing
  • Legal Remedy Brewing
  • Benford Brewing
  • Catawba Valley Brewing Co.
  • Lonerider Brewing
  • Aviator Brewing
  • Natty Greene’s Brewing
  • Sugar Creek Brewing