Carolina Brew Fest to be held in Fort Mill on Saturday, Dec. 6

Carolina Brew Fest

The Carolina Brew Fest will be held at the Dairy Barn in Fort Mill on Saturday, Dec. 6. from 6-10 p.m. This is the first year for the festival, which will donate all of its proceeds to Education Equals Hope, a nonprofit organization that provides educational and spiritual mentoring to children in places like Ecuador, Haiti and Uganda.

The event will feature beers from 15 different homebrewers, as well as barbecue from Red Oak BBQ and live music from Massive Grass, an alternative bluegrass band from Wilmington. Festivalgoers will have the chance to vote on their favorite homebrews by donating toward that beer, with the winning brewer receiving a Vision trip to Quito, Ecuador.

Tickets for the festival are $40 if purchased before Nov. 30, $50 if purchased after that date. Designated driver tickets are also available for $30 a piece. For more information, visit the Carolina Brew Fest website or follow them on Facebook.

Upcoming Bottles (and Cans) from Charlotte Breweries

Several Charlotte breweries will be releasing new bottles and cans in the weeks to come, which is perfect timing for anyone wishing to share some local beer over Thanksgiving dinner or give a bottle or two to someone for Christmas.

Be on the lookout for the following beer releases:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 11: Fresh off the heels of releasing The Force and The Dude Imbibes, Triple C Brewing will waste no time getting their next bottles out. They have bottle their White Blaze winter ale for the first time, and you can pick up bottles at the taproom starting on Tuesday (they will soon be in area bottle shops). This winter seasonal is brewed with cinnamon and vanilla beans.
  • Thursday, Nov. 13: Birdsong Brewing will release “Turtles on Pterodactyls,” the third in the brewery’s Take Flight series. Last year, they put some of their popular MexiCali Stout in bourbon barrels, where it’s been aging for the last 11 months. They’ll blend this aged beer with a little of this year’s MexiCali Stout and throw some more cinnamon and cocoa nibs in for good measure. The bottles will be released at 4:30 p.m. this Thursday, with a four-bottle limit per person. It will be on draft as well.
  • Saturday, Nov. 15: Their White Blaze might be new to bottles, but this will be the third year that Triple C Brewing has sold bottles of Up All Night Breakfast Porter. This beer is brewed with chocolate malt, flaked oats, honey and lactose before being aged on coffee beans from Charlotte’s Magnolia Coffee. They will sell bottles starting at noon on Saturday, Nov. 15, and this year they are also offering some package deals. You can get two bottles of this year’s Up All Night plus a Teku glass for $30, or a bottle each of 2013 and 2014 Up All Night and a glass for $32 (these Teku glasses, which you can see here, are $10 by themselves).
  • Tuesday, Nov. 18: NoDa Brewing’s Coco Loco Porter is hardly new, having been a popular beer at the brewery since they opened their doors three years ago. But next week, you’ll be able to find this medal-winning porter in cans. It will be the brewery’s fourth canned beer, following in the footsteps of Hop Drop ‘n Roll, Jam Session and CAVU Blonde Ale.
  • Friday, Nov. 21: The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery will release Dunkel, its winter seasonal. They brewed this dark lager earlier this year and have had it on tap at the brewery, but now fans of the beer will be able to grab six-packs.

NoDa Brewing Coco Loco Cans Hitting Shelves Soon

NoDa Brewing Coco Loco Porter Cans

NoDa Brewing Co. released the label for Coco Loco Porter, which they’ve brewed since they opened in October of 2011. Now, three years later, the beer will join Hop Drop ‘n Roll, Jam Session and CAVU as their fourth canned beer when it hits shelves starting on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

The porter won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2012 (and since there was no gold awarded, that was the highest-ranked beer in the Robust Porter category that year).

Like their other three canned beers, the label for Coco Loco was designed by the folks at Saturday Brand Communications. For this one, the brewery wanted to continue with the vintage aesthetic while tying in the coconut without specifically having it on the can, according to president Suzie Ford.

The copy reads: “Enjoy the blend of chocolate and brown malts in this robust porter with crazy-rich color and ruby highlights. The subtle bitterness of chocolate is balanced by sweet, organic toasted coconut. Perfect to pair with food or just enjoy alone. So go nuts, you’ll be glad you did.”

Four-packs of the beer will retail for $10.99, as it’s a more expensive beer to make than Jam Session and CAVU. At the taproom, the brewery will offer mixed four-packs of their full lineup of cans.


NoDa Brewing Announces New Location

This past May, NoDa Brewing announced they had run out of space at their current location in NoDa and were looking for another building. Today, it was announced in the Charlotte Business Journal that the brewery will sign a lease on a building at 2921 N. Tryon Street.

At 32,000-square-feet, the building is much larger than NoDa Brewing’s current location. The building, which was built in the 1930s, was once home to the Fleischmann’s vinegar plant and is now the headquarters for the Ray Roofing Company.

If you’re fond of the brewery’s current home in NoDa, not to worry: they will continue using this space as a barrel-aging facility and taproom. Asheville’s Wicked Weed Brewing took a similar path this year by opening up their sour-beer-focused Funkatorium  while also announcing plans to open a separate production facility in 2015. NoDa Brewing’s new facility will feature a 60-barrel brewhouse, which will allow them to brew four times the amount of beer in a single batch. They also plan to add their own canning line (currently their beers are canned by Land of the Sky Mobile Canning).

NoDa isn’t the only brewery to run out of space after a few years in business. The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery recently relocated to a bigger facility at 4150 Yancey Rd., where they too graduated from a 15-barrel brewhouse to a 60-barrel brewhouse. Birdsong Brewing is currently in the process of moving to a larger location about a mile away from their current home. And while Triple C Brewing isn’t moving, they did recently announce their own expansion plans that include additional fermenters, a grain silo and their own canning line.

NoDa Brewing Company's New Location

NoDa Brewing Company's New Location (photo taken from Google Maps)

Carolina BrewMasters – Radegast Club of the Year

The Carolina BrewMasters, Charlotte’s local homebrewing club, made history this past June when they were named the first recipients of the Radegast Club of the Year Award at the 2014 National Homebrewers Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The award was created to acknowledge homebrew clubs “not for their competitive merits, but for their efforts to interact with and support their local community.”

In their Radegast submission, the Carolina BrewMasters listed their lengthy contributions to the local community. Chief among these is their role as organizers of Charlotte Oktoberfest, which has raised more than $500,000 for charities in its 16-year history.

In addition to being named the first Radegast Club of the Year, the BrewMasters also received a $500 stipend for the club as well as a $500 donation to a charity of their choice.  This past September, Hopunion flew staff out to Charlotte to film the BrewMasters on a brew day as well as at this year’s Charlotte Oktoberfest. Check out the video below.

On Hornets and Hops

Charlotte HornetsBritish General Cornwallis and his men marched into Charlotte in 1780, five years after Captain James Jack had delivered the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence to Philadelphia. Cornwallis and his troops burned down the tavern that Captain James Jack and his father owned and lived in, and soon occupied the city — but not for long. The general was met with such resistance that he left Charlotte, which he called “a hornet’s nest of rebellion.”

A nickname was born. Today the hornet handle is most commonly associated with the NBA team that played in the city from 1988-2002 before moving to New Orleans. After a long campaign to “bring back the buzz,” the Hornets are set to do just that with their first regular season home game tonight.

Over the years, brewers have also applied the Hornets name to their beers. Here’s a look at three popular Charlotte-brewed beers to feature the Hornets name.

Hornet Tail Ale – The Mill Bakery, Eatery and Brewery

In the ’90s, when the Hornets boasted such players as Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning,  The Mill Bakery, Eatery and Brewery brewed an altbier and named it Hornet Tail Ale. They even had t-shirts imploring patrons to “Catch a Buzz.” That beer won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 1990 (it won a medal again in 1995, though I couldn’t find a record of which medal it won).

Stingin’ Brits IPA – Rock Bottom Brewery

The Battle of Charlotte was fought at the intersection of Trade and Tryon, just a few blocks away from where now sits the Rock Bottom Brewery. The brewery opened in 1997, and though the beer lineup has changed over the last 15 years, its Stingin’ Brits IPA was always a popular seller. The brewery still serves an IPA, though it’s not under this name.

Hornet’s Nest Hefeweizen – The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery first released their Hornet’s Nest Hefeweizen in 2012, well before “Bring Back the Buzz” reached fever pitch. I imagine “Bobcat Bavarian Wheat” just didn’t have the same ring to it. This true-to-style German hefeweizen will return to the taproom and area bars next year.

Craft Tasting Room and Growler Shop Grand Opening this Thursday, Oct. 23

Craft Tasting Room and Growler ShopCraft Tasting Room and Growler Shop, located at 1320 S. Church St. in Charlotte’s SouthEnd, will open its doors at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 23. The new business is the brainchild of Dan and Alyson Davis, who moved to Charlotte last year after spending a dozen years in New York City. Growler sales were only allowed at breweries when they moved to Charlotte, however a change in legislation late last year paved the way for their new business.

And while Craft will be filling both 32-ounce and 64-ounce growlers from 36 taps, they’re more than just a growler shop. You can also enjoy those taps — half of which will be made up of NC breweries, the other half regional and more limited beers — in Craft’s 3,000-square-foot tasting room, by the pint or by the flight. The long row of taps is set against a backdrop of stainless steel, and the names of each beer are written in chalk on the large chalkboard wall above them.

And above that wall, exposed roof trusses support a glass roof that lets in plenty of natural light in the day and shows off the stars at night. There are several hefty, hand-hewed tables at which to sit and enjoy a beer with any number of “bar bites” such as charcuterie, cheeses, nuts, fruits and breads (Dan is a chef by trade). Outside is a 1,000-square-foot beer garden area with eight picnic tables underneath rows of string lights.

If you’re looking to grab something to go, Craft has that, too. The shelves inside are filled with six-packs as well as bombers, grouped for the most part by style or by season. The selection isn’t as extensive as other area bottle shops (at least not yet), but it’s still respectable and certainly a nice option for those looking to take something home.

Don and Alyson Davis envision Craft as being a one-stop shop for anyone looking to pick up beer and snacks for parties and picnics, too. To that end they have stocked the shelves with foodstuffs like chips, jams, nuts, crackers, pickled veggies and chow-chow, stone-ground grits and cocktail mixers.

From 6:30-9:30 p.m. on opening night, Craft will offer $3 drafts and complimentary bar bites. After the grand opening, they will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day.

To keep up with Craft Tasting Room and Growler Shop, follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

NoDa Brewing Celebrates Three Years with Three Days of Special Beers

NoDa Brewing always taps some special beers for their anniversary, and this — the brewery’s third — might be the biggest celebration yet.

Monday, Oct. 27  is “Collaboration Day,” when they’ll tap beers they brewed with other breweries. This means the highly-acclaimed “Stop, Collaborate & Glisten” collaboration with Night Shift Brewing is back, as is the Mother Shucker Oyster Stout that they did with Wilmington’s Front Street Brewery. Fonta Flora’s Haulin’ Oats, a hoppy saison, will also make an appearance. But it’s not just collaborations: NoDa will also tap their Olde Voyager English Barlyewine as well as a cask of Hop Drop ‘n Roll that’s been double dry-hopped with Simcoe.

Tuesday, Oct. 28 is “Throwback Tuesday.” They’ve gone into the cellar and come out with the following aged beers: 2012 Ménage à Quad; 2013 and 2014 TriUmphant Tripel; and 2013 Imperial Coco Loco. There will be another Hop Drop ‘n Roll cask, though this one’s double dry-hopped with Mosaic. And since it’s a Tuesday, they’ll have “CAVU Kölsch” as their NoDable keg.

But Wednesday, Oct. 29 is their actual anniversary, and for that they will roll out the barrels. On “Barrel Aging Day,” they tap the following: bourbon barrel-aged Olde Voyager, rum barrel-aged Imperial Coco Loco; bourbon barrel-aged Ménage à Quad. For the third day they’ll have a cask of Hop Drop ‘n Roll, this one filled with pineapple and double dry-hopped with Ella and Equinox hops.They will also have two new beers on Wednesday. Captain Peanut Butter’s Chocolate Revenge comes in at 8.5 percent ABV and is brewed with Dutch and Ghana cocoa, plus 2.5 pounds of peanut butter powder per barrel. Toast to a New Year Sparkling Ale was brewed with honey, toasted flaked oats and Sorachi Ace hops — and then it was refermented with Champagne yeast to give it a nice crispness. At 5.1 percent ABV, it’s a much lighter offering than most of the other beers they’ll tap this week.

And if that wasn’t enough, they’ll be releasing Monstro — a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout — on Saturday, Nov. 1. They’ll tap a keg of non-barrel-aged Monstro on Friday the night before to prepare. Find the details on that release here.

Taps and Snaps Launch Party at NoDa Brewing Company

Taps and Snaps Photography

Perhaps you’ve seen her behind the lens at local Charlotte breweries over the last years, or more recently at this year’s Charlotte Oktoberfest. Now Wendy Raymond, owner of Little Photography, is turning her hobby of beer photography into a specialty she’s calling “Taps and Snaps.”

You can join Wendy for the launch of Taps and Snaps at NoDa Brewing from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 23. She will have some of her photography on display and will be on hand to talk a little more about the new venture.

Says NoDa Brewing’s Suzie Ford in a press release: “Wendy has a keen eye to capture that perfect moment without any major set up or planning. She just has ‘it’ and seems to be in the right place, at the right time, without getting in the way. She is a long-time craft beer-lover, and she understands the personalities of beers, brewers and craft beer fans, which allows her to get that special shot.”

A portion of the proceeds from Wendy’s sales of print photography go to charities that serve the homeless in the Charlotte metro area (and not just this Thursday, but always). A raffle with various prizes will help raise funds for Charlotte’s Urban Ministry Center.

For more information about Taps and Snaps, visit


Charlotte Engineer Invents “World’s First Magnetic Bottle Hanger”

Having a tough time squeezing all that local beer into your fridge? One Charlotte inventor hopes to help with that.

Brian Conti, a design engineer and founder of Charlotte’s Spoke Design, has just invented what he calls the “world’s first magnetic bottle hanger.” It works like this: using a “very high bond” tape, you secure a plastic rail with three magnets to the inside ceiling of your fridge. Then you simply reach in and stick your beer’s bottle cap to the magnet, where it is suspended as if by magic.

Of course, it’s not magic. There’s a lot of science behind it, which is sure to comfort beer geeks worried that their pricey bottles could plummet to the shelves below at any minute. For one, each magnet is capable of holding 3.6 pounds, even though a 12-ounce bottle of beer weighs only a third of that. The tape used to attach the rail to the fridge’s ceiling is, in addition to being rated “very high bond,” also used for low-temperature applications.

But if anything points to the success of this project, it is that Conti has had several other successful Kickstarter projects. Conti’s STRONG LIKE BULL Magnets were successfully funded on Kickstarter in February of last year, ultimately surpassing his goal of $7,500 on his way to $57,507 raised. His next Kickstarter was for a custom-machined bottle stopper/opener called Bottlejak, which didn’t receive its funding.

Not one to give up at the sign of adversity, Conti launched a Kickstarter campaign for the big and burly STRONG LIKE BULL Bottle Opener just a couple months after that. This one, like the STRONG LIKE BULL Magnets, was successfully funded. And this past June, he revisited the magnets when he offered up a Kickstarter for STRONG LIKE BULL Throw Magnets. These are similar to his previous design, however they have a ring of rubber around them making them safe to toss at whiteboards, refrigerators, or wherever you might want to stick them. His goal on this Kickstarter campaign was $3,500, yet he ended up raising $13,344.

Clearly, Conti knows what he is doing where magnets are involved, especially if those magnets somehow intersect with the beverage industry. This latest Kickstarter campaign will help him have an injection mold made and purchase large quantities of many of the necessary components. At the time of this writing people have already pledged more than $13,500, and he has 23 days left to hit his goal of $20,000.