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

Fillmore Craft Sessions returns on Saturday, July 11

Fillmore Craft Sessions
Last October, The Fillmore held the first of its seasonal beer festivals that it is dubbing “Craft Sessions.” The “Summer Sessional” version of the festival will be held from 5-9 p.m. on Saturday, July 11, promising a mix of local and national craft breweries and an old school hip hop playlist.

Local food trucks will be parked out back as well, selling a variety of dishes. As for the beer, expect homegrown favorites like NoDa, Birdsong, Sycamore, Unknown, Wicked Weed and Fonta Flora, plus larger brands like Stone Brewing, Founders Brewing, Bell’s Brewery and Lagunitas. There will be a few one-offs as well, such as Unknown Brewing’s Opening Act IPA and Birdsong Brewing’s cask of Higher Ground IPA with jalapeños in it. I’ll have more on some of these special beers next week, but all told there will be 40 breweries in attendance (you can see the full list on the Facebook event page).

Tickets for the event can be purchased at the box office or at Salud Beer Shop for $35 (or $40 at the door). They can also be purchased online, where a service fee and tax brings them to $41.98 each.

The Great NC Beer Map

This site has a pretty narrow focus: beer in Charlotte. Be that as it may, I broke that focus last year when I wrote about The Great NC BBQ Map, a project by Amanda Fisher and Paul Bright.

It wasn’t too great a leap, since the duo behind EDIA Maps is based out of Charlotte. The two are also homebrewers and active in the Carolina Brewmasters homebrew club. Plus, what goes better with beer than barbecue?

Clearly Fisher and Bright agree. No justifications need be made for sharing the news of their next project, The Great NC Beer Map. The map will feature more than 160 craft breweries, festivals and general information about brewing.

And just like their previous map’s Kickstarter, they’ve got some great pledge rewards. For $10, you can get a sticker and a map (the latter signed, if you wish). There are a variety of different rewards going up from there, including posters, coasters, exclusive beer dinners and the chance to brew with a variety of NC breweries.

The Kickstarter campaign runs through July 24.

Cabarrus Brewing Co. announces location at The Gibson Mill in Concord

Cabarrus Brewing Company in Concord, North Carolina

Cabarrus Brewing Co. announced today its plans to build in Concord’s Gibson Mill, which is currently home to a large antique mall. The mill is made up of two large buildings with a 15,000-square-foot building between them, and it is here that Cabarrus Brewing Co. will build. In March, High Branch Brewing Co. announced plans to build in a 1,400-square-foot space inside the mill as well.

Up until May, neither brewery would have been able to operate a taproom out of the mill — zoning didn’t allow for it. Steve Steinbacher, one of the owners of Cabarrus Brewing Co., began working with the city’s planning department in January to come up with a text amendment that would allow breweries to operate taprooms and sell beer on premise.

With that amendment now passed, Steinbacher has signed a lease in the Gibson Mill and is on the cusp of ordering his three-vessel, 15-barrel brewhouse.

“Cabarrus county has a very rich textile and manufacturing history,” Steinbacher said. “We have old mills everywhere. Some are falling down and dilapidated shells, and some are being repurposed.”

The Gibson Mill is squarely in the latter camp. Right now, The Depot at Gibson Mill is home to rows upon rows of old antiques and memorabilia that draw visitors from all over.

“It’s already really becoming quite a destination, not just during the weekend but during the week,” said Steinbacher.

Plans for the design of the taproom are still being finalized, but Steinbacher foresees an open floorplan that leaves in place many of the building’s historical elements. He points to San Diego’s Mission Brewery, whose building was once home to a Wonder Bread factory, as an inspiration.

“The interior of that space is eerily similar in terms of what our building will look like,” said Steinbacher.

Unlike many brewery owners, Steinbacher is not a homebrewer with dreams of going pro. He has brewed before, but doesn’t consider himself an avid homebrewer by any means. He’s just had a taste for and interest in craft beer for years. For the brewing, he will turn to Jason McKnight. If you’re familiar with your Charlotte beer history (shameless plug), you might remember that McKnight once brewed for The Mill Bakery, Eatery and Brewery during the 1990s. Now, the Siebel-trained brewer is once again picking up the mash paddle.

“A lot of people have been egging him to get back into the game,” said Steinbacher. “We’re thrilled he’s going to be a partner in this business.”

Joining Steinbacher as a founding partner is also Keith Griffin. As far as potential beers, Steinbacher said to expect good representations of traditional styles without getting “too out there.”

“We’re really going to focus not just on the beer, but the environment,” said Steinbacher. “We want this to be a really big showcase for Cabarrus county.”

To keep up with Cabarrus Brewing Co. as they build the brewery, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.



The Unknown Brewing Co. to release Hospitali-Tea in cans

The Unknown Brewing Co. Hospitali-Tea Cans

As I walked up to The Unknown Brewing Co. last night I found Brad Shell not in the brewery, as is usually the case, but manning the big outdoor fireplace out front. As you might imagine given the weather, it wasn’t for warmth – Shell was using the makeshift grill to cook three huge chunks of beef for a staff meeting.

It was fitting since I’d come to talk to Shell about Hospitali-Tea, a beer I first had at the brewery’s Charlotte Smoke-Off last year.

“We first made Hospitali-Tea as a gimmick or a joke for our Smoke-Off festival,” said Shell, as he sprinkled seasoning and drizzled sauce over the sizzling sirloin. “It went over really well. We had so much demand we decided to put it on draft.”

The beer, an amber ale brewed with black tea and orange blossom honey, became a popular choice in the taproom last summer.

“And then everyone was like, ‘I want to take this with me to the beach, I want to take it to the ball game, I want to take this hiking,’” said Shell. “It just seemed like a natural fit to come out in July.”

This year, the brewery will put Hospitali-Tea in cans, with six-packs hitting shelves around the third week of July. Before then, however, they will be releasing bottles of “1.5ish,” a beer that was brewed for their first anniversary but needed a little more time in the barrel. The beer is a Belgian-style red rye aged and soured in French oak cabernet barrels with strawberries and vanilla beans. This one’s waiting for the screen-printed bottles to come in, but will be available shortly after that.

The brewery is also partnering with the Fillmore by brewing a beer called Opening Act IPA that will be released on July 11 at the Fillmore’s Craft Sessions. This will be the venue’s second Craft Sessions, which will be a quarterly event at the Fillmore.

Other news at Unknown includes an attempt at breaking a Guinness world record and planning for another Day of the Dead beer (more on those later). Shell has also built a new pilot system out of three stainless steel, 55-gallon drums, so expect to see more small-batch beers in the taproom.

Custom Home Pubs to hold grand opening on Thursday, July 2

Custom Home Pubs

Earlier this year, it was announced that Elevation Church planned to purchase the shopping center that housed its Matthews campus.

That shopping center was also home to Custom Home Pubs, a bar with a small bottle shop and an assortment of home bar necessities like kegerators and CO2 tanks. Founder Geoff Goss quickly had to look for a new location.

He found that a few miles north at 1640 Sardis Rd. N., in the Galleria Shopping Center off of Independence Boulevard. It was the second move for founder Goss, who opened the store in SouthPark before moving it to Matthews years ago.  His new location will have a dozen taps (up from eight), a slightly-larger bottle selection, lots of local brewery memorabilia (t-shirts, stickers, hats, glassware, etc.) and the bar from Sankey’s, the restaurant that Goss operated beside Custom Home Pubs.

There will be no food served at Custom Home Pubs, however Goss said customers can have food from nearby Boardwalk Billy’s delivered to the bar.

The bar will hold a grand opening celebration on Thursday, July 2 from 6-9 p.m. The taps will be pouring “rare Charlotte draft beers,” and attendees can enjoy unlimited samples for $20 (with $10 going back to The King’s Kitchen, which is supplying food for the event).

Unlike the bar’s popular monthly tastings, this event does require that you pre-purchase a ticket by calling 704-315-5223 or


Pintville Craft Beer to open in Pineville

Pintville Craft Beer Bar

Natasha Young and her husband, Sam Delbrouque, had been thinking about opening a craft beer bar when she walked by the empty space at 329 Main St. in downtown Pineville.

“I told Sam, ‘You have to meet me here right now,’” said Natasha Young.

Exposed brick lined the interior walls of the 100-year-old building, and its 2,000 sq. ft. would give them plenty of room to house a bar and bottle shop. They soon signed a lease and now plan to open Pintville Craft Beer in the space in mid-July or August. While there are breweries and beer bars aplenty in Charlotte, Natasha feels Pineville is long overdue for its own local spot.

“There are so many craft beer places in the city,” she said. “But where we live, you have to drive 20 minutes to go get a craft beer.”

Sam Delbrouque is a homebrewer who was exposed to great beer while living in northern France, just 20 minutes outside of Belgium. Since moving to the states, he and Natasha have owned and operated two restaurants.

While they will allow food to be brought in from the bakery next door as well as several new restaurants springing up around them, the two will focus exclusively on beer. They plan to have 24-30 taps, with one dedicated to nitro pours.

In addition to the taps, Pintville will also have a selection of bottles for sale.

To keep up with Pintville as they work toward their opening, follow them on Facebook.