British 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.