It’s been about three months since NoDa Brewing beat out 223 other IPAs to win a gold medal at the World Beer Cup for their Hop Drop ‘n Roll. Doing so immediately launched them into the national spotlight, and they’ve been doing what they can to keep up with demand since. Winning gold was a great achievement, not only for NoDa Brewing but for the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina. Many local beer geeks, who have known all along how great the beer is, were thumping their chests with pride and validation. Others in the months since, however, haven’t been so appreciative.
In fact, lately many have been calling or e-mailing NoDa to complain about the beer’s dwindling availability in light of its newfound rarity. After hearing several nasty complaints, rumors and outright lies, co-founder Suzie Ford decided it would be best to address some of these by sitting down with myself and Charlotte Magazine’s Matt McKenzie (whose resulting piece you can read here).
So with that, let’s get to it and address five myths about NoDa Brewing’s Hop Drop ‘n Roll.
1. Hop Drop ‘n Roll is being discontinued.
This is the rumor with the least merit, but the one that Suzie most wants to put to rest. Why would the brewery discontinue a beer that they have brewed since day one, right after it won pretty much the highest accolade possible? The truth is that the folks at NoDa Brewing would love nothing more than to brew as much Hop Drop ‘n Roll as the people can drink.
Someone heard this rumor and bought out one of the Total Wines to the tune of five cases. That’s a lot of beer that other people could have enjoyed. It’s a vicious cycle; the beer is already in high demand, and now people are snatching up more than they would have otherwise.
And while the beer isn’t going away, however, you may indeed start to see a little less of it in the market. Which brings me to …
2. NoDa can brew more Hop Drop ‘n Roll at any time.
Hop Drop ‘n Roll was first brewed in co-founder Todd Ford’s garage around five years ago. On such a small scale, Todd didn’t have to worry if he’d have enough hops — he just wanted to brew an IPA that rivaled those he tried every time he flew out West.
The big batches of Hop Drop ‘n Roll brewed at NoDa today require a whopping 72 pounds of Citra hops alone (with about the same amount of Amarillo). As its name suggests, Citra hops impart some of those really bright citrus and fruit notes into Hop Drop. The only problem is that the hop is a proprietary hop, and it is in extremely high demand.
“It is definitely the hottest hop out there,” said Suzie. “No one has any extra.”
Compounding this problem is that hops are contracted for the next year, meaning NoDa ordered this year’s supply last year, well before they won the award. They increased production of the beer after winning gold to meet demand, but after taking a closer look at their Citra inventory they decided to scale back and brew at a rate that they could sustain until the next year.
The brewery may luck out and be able to secure some more for next year, as breweries that can’t get as much Citra choose instead to order hot new hops like Equinox, Mosaic, Ella and Topaz. They will also get a little help from the centrifuge that they ordered last week. This device essentially clarifies the beer without the brewery having to filter it. It won’t make more hops magically appear, but it will allow the brewery to salvage more beer. It’s only natural that hops soak up some of the beer during the brewing process. But since Hop Drop ‘n Roll is such hop-heavy beer, a higher volume of beer is soaked up by the very hops that make it so great in the first place. Suzie told me that they recently lost 11-barrels of a 60-barrel batch to the hops.
Hops aren’t the only constraint; they are limited by time as well. Hop Drop ‘n Roll ferments for 10-14 days, and Suzie has actually had people ask why they can’t turn it over more quickly.
“If you push it and it can’t sit and dry-hop for a few days, it’s not the same beer,” said Suzie. “We will not rush a beer, and we will not put out a sub-par product. We don’t want to brew the heart and soul out of Hop Drop.”
3. NoDa is lazy.
Yes, this has actually been a complaint leveled at the brewery.
There was a line of people waiting for the brewery to open the day after they won gold. The folks at NoDa knew they would have to work harder than ever.
And they did. Bars requested half barrels instead of sixtels, shops wanted 10 cases instead of two, and NoDa did everything they could to meet that demand.
“Literally overnight,” said Suzie of the interest in the beer. “The orders doubled that very next week.”
They have been working hard ever since. They have four brewers each brewing a 15-barrel batch of beer a day. Bart Roberts starts his day at 4:45 a.m. Chad Henderson follows, then Matt Virgil, and finally Brian Schonder, who typically leaves between 9:30-10:30 p.m. The brewery brews this way for five days a week, and they also do one batch every other Sunday.
4. Hop Drop ‘n Roll is the only beer NoDa brews.
So maybe this one is less of a myth and simply something we take for granted. NoDa Brewing currently has nine beers in production, and that number will go up to 10 with the Gose that they’re tapping this Friday. Cans of Jam Session and CAVU are still plentiful. And remember their other medal-winner, Coco Loco? It’s as good today as it was when it received the silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival almost two years ago.
While these might not appeal to those looking for Hop Drop ‘n Roll’s hoppy punch, don’t fret: the brewery is currently working on a new IPA. It won’t replace Hop Drop, but it will serve as a nice alternative when it’s not available.
“We’re giving Woody and Wilcox a facelift,” said Suzie. “We’re going to make that a new IPA formula, something in between Jam Session and Hop Drop ‘n Roll. It’s going to be a nice alternative.”
5. Head brewer Chad Henderson cries in every other batch.
False. Chad cries in every single batch of Hop Drop ‘n Roll.
Or so he joked when I was at the brewery the other day. Still, it’s not that far from the truth. No one’s literally weeping into these batches — at least not that I’m aware of — but they are doing everything they can to get as much of this beloved beer out into the market as they can.
“Be patient,” Suzie said. “We really are working as hard as we can. It hurts us as much as it hurts you.”
My second book, “Beer Lover’s The Carolinas,” is currently landing on store shelves across North and South Carolina. In addition to offering a look into 156 breweries, brewpubs and beer bars across both states, the book also includes sections on clone homebrew recipes (NoDa Brewing’s Jam Session, anyone?), cooking with beer, pub crawls and area beer festivals.
I’ve got two signings this week in Charlotte. From 7-9 p.m. on Tuesday, April 15, I’ll be signing copies at NoDa Brewing. Please drop by, come check out the book, and lift a gold medal-winning Hop Drop ‘n Roll with me (or a NoDable series beer — it is a Tuesday, after all).
On Saturday, April 19, I’ll be signing books at Unknown Brewing during their “Charlotte Smokeoff,” an amateur barbecue competition featuring 20 backyard grilling teams. Their core beers will be pouring, and they will also tap Silverback Stout, Southern Hospitalitea, Magic Water IPA and a smoked black IPA that should pair well with all of the smoked meat. Wiggle Wagons, Broken Napoleons and Radio Lola will be playing music throughout the day, and the event runs from 12-8 p.m. (I’ll be signing from 12-5 p.m.). Better still, all proceeds will support veterans through Wounded Warrior Project & Purple Heart Homes. Tickets are $10 in advance on Ticket Bud and $13 the day of, and get you unlimited samples of smoked meats (beers purchased separately).
I look forward to seeing y’all out at some of these events!
Last month, I wrote about the forthcoming collaboration beer from OMB and NoDa. As I mentioned in that post, the breweries will each select a person to attend a brewer’s summit on May 17 to decide upon the style, and these two people will also get the chance to brew the beer at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s new facility this summer.
So how do you win such an opportunity? They want you to create a video telling them why they should pick you. You don’t need a fancy camera or special technology; a smartphone and passion for local beer will suffice, just make sure that passion is sufficiently captured in the video!
Here are the details, taken from the contest’s Facebook event page:
· Submit video by April 15.
· Video must be no longer than 2 minutes.
· Winning entry must be able to attend the brewers’ summit on May 17.
· Post video on OMB or NoDa’s Facebook page, tag either in a Twitter post or post in this event.
· One video per individual.
· Winning video will be announced on April 23.
· Video must be family friendly/safe for public posting on our pages, videos deemed inappropriate will be removed.
This post isn’t strictly about beer, but indulge me for a moment. A couple from Charlotte, Amanda Fisher and Paul Bright, have launched a Kickstarter called “The Great NC BBQ Map.” As a native North Carolinian, I’ve enjoyed my share of ‘cue. And as someone who just last year toured almost all of the breweries in this fine state, I appreciate anyone who not only follows their own passion, but desires to share it with others.
The Kickstarter campaign runs through Thursday, March 27. They’re aiming to raise $10,000 to fund the production of the map, and they are just over $6,000. There are many different pledge levels: $9 gets you a printed map, $18 gets you a poster version, $25 gets you both, etc.
I said earlier this post wasn’t strictly about beer, but you had to figure it was coming (and beyond the obvious, that beer and barbecue go together like peas and carrots). If you pledge $100, you will be invited to The Great NC BBQ Map launch party at NoDa Brewing this summer, where you will receive the map, a swag bag, barbecue and beer — and not just any beer, but a barbecue-inspired beer. NoDa will brew a smoked amber ale with red chile peppers just for this event.
But remember, this project needs to be fully funded by Thursday. They’re currently around $4,000 short, but I believe if there’s anything people can rally around, it’s barbecue and beer.
From the outside looking in, The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and NoDa Brewing don’t have much in common. One brews in strict accordance to the Reinheitsbegot, the other will brew with just about anything under the sun if it means good beer.
Yet the two breweries have enjoyed a good relationship ever since Todd and Suzie Ford opened NoDa Brewing in 2011, two years after John Marrino opened Olde Mecklenburg’s doors. Now, they’ll take it to the next level by actually collaborating on a beer together.
The process will start as a “brewer’s summit” this spring, where both breweries will sit down to hash out prospective styles, “while encouraging a style that is new to both brewers.” After the recipe is created, it will be brewed on NoDa’s pilot system. Once everyone’s happy with the beer, it will be brewed at Olde Mecklenburg’s new brewery (set to open this summer). A portion of the beer’s sales will benefit Second Harvest Food Bank.
Look for the breweries to run a contest in which they’ll each send a non-employee to participate in the brewer’s summit this spring. Those lucky summit goers will have the chance to provide input on the recipe creation, and they’ll also be involved with the actual brewing process later on.
This marks the first collaboration between Charlotte breweries. NoDa Brewing is no stranger to collaborations, though, having brewed beers with Front Street Brewery (Mother Shucker), RJ Rockers (PIPA Long Hoppings), Mother Earth Brewing (Word to your Mother), Holy City Brewing (Shades of Grace) and Night Shift Brewing out of Everett, MA.
Here’s the full press release:
Charlotte, NC, March 3, 2014 – The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and NoDa Brewing Company are excited to announce their upcoming collaborative beer to be released in late summer 2014 with portions of its sale benefiting Second Harvest Food Bank. This will be the first production collaboration amongst any Charlotte breweries.
“Olde Mecklenburg has been the trailblazing brewery that introduced traditionally-made craft beer to Charlotte nearly five years ago. Their consistency and attention to detail explains their success and rapid growth over the last few years,” said Todd Ford, Co-Owner of NoDa Brewing Company. “They have become the benchmark for quality and consistency for ourselves and fellow local brewers. Although NoDa Brewing’s production beer styles differ significantly from OMB’s, we are intrigued with the opportunity to put our heads together and collaborate on a beer that will excite fans of both breweries.”
The yet-to-be-named beer will be the creation of The Olde Mecklenburg and NoDa Brewing brewers and a true collaboration from the start. Both breweries will come together this spring for a “brewer’s summit” with no specific style guidelines given to them by their owners while encouraging a style that is new to both brewers.
They will create the recipe, brew on the pilot system and “tweak” the recipe together until the final mouth-watering brew is created. Once finalized, OMB and NoDa will brew the collaboration beer on Olde Mecklenburg’s brew system at their new facility, currently under construction in south Charlotte.
“Just five years ago, there were no breweries in Charlotte,” said Ryan Self, Director of Sales with Olde Mecklenburg. “Now we have a thriving scene of high quality, fresh beer from a handful of local breweries. This collaboration celebrates the sense of civic pride and community spirit throughout the Charlotte beer scene.”
In that spirit of collaboration, Charlotte beer fans will be involved from the start. A contest will be created whereby each brewery will select one lucky non-employee to participate in the “brewer’s summit.” These two individuals will have input on the recipe formulation and assist on-site during the actual brewing process.
BeerAdvocate’s list of most popular American IPAs includes 50 highly-regarded examples of the style, boasting such big names as Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, Ballast Point Sculpin, Surly Furious, Founders Harvest Ale, Russian River’s Blind Pig and many more.
Now claiming No. 46 on that list is NoDa Brewing’s Hop Drop ‘n Roll.
The brewery has brewed this beer since opening its doors in 2011, and it has been well-received here in Charlotte ever since. Now, more and more people are discovering what many of us in Charlotte have known for some time: that NoDa Brewing’s Hop Drop ‘n Roll is an outstanding IPA.
In addition to it simply being a great beer, this surge in popularity can be attributed to NoDa Brewing now offering the beer in cans which can be found at the brewery and in bars and bottle shops around the city. While they are not distributed far outside of Charlotte, store owners from other cities — like Beer Study in Chapel Hill, Bottle Revolution in Raleigh or Potent Potables in Jamestown — routinely make the drive down to stuff their cars to the brim with cases of Hop Drop ‘n Roll and Jam Session. Judging by their posts on Twitter and Facebook, these shops are really moving through a large quantity of inventory.
There are more than 5,000 IPAs listed on BeerAdvocate. Granted some of these are one-offs, and many don’t even have reviews listed — but the fact remains that the American IPA category is the most crowded in the industry, and for NoDa to place in the top 50 on a site like BeerAdvocate speaks volumes to the quality of the beer.
My editor at The Charlotte Observer, Kathleen Purvis, just published, “Bourbon: A Savor the South Cookbook.” If that’s not a good enough reason to write about barrel-aged beers, I don’t know what is.
Also, apologies that I haven’t been quite as active here as usual. I’ve been hard at work on another book, “Beer Lover’s The Carolinas,” which will be published in March of next year.
A month ago, NoDa Brewing’s Todd and Suzie Ford quietly announced on Cheers Charlotte that the brewery would be packaging a couple of its beers in 16 oz. cans. They’ve made that even more official with their latest press release, which you can read below:
NoDa Brewing Company is excited to announce their entry into the package market with a roll out of 16 oz. cans of Jam Session, their pale ale, and Hop, Drop ‘n Roll, their signature IPA, in late September 2013.
“Jam Session and Hop, Drop ‘n Roll are two of our most popular beers and having them available in a portable form (can) is the next logical step for us,” said Todd Ford, Co-Owner of NoDa Brewing Company. “Instead of the traditional 12 oz. cans, we have opted for a 16 oz. can. If you are going to drink a 16 oz. pint in restaurant or pub, why accept less from your can?”
Initially, NoDa Brewing cans will be available at bottle shops, specialty markets, bars and restaurants in the Charlotte metro with a roll out to supermarket chains within the year. In addition to its current draft presence at Panthers games within the Bank of America Stadium, both Jam Session and Hop, Drop ‘n Roll will be available at the stadium in cans starting in October.
“Cans basically act as small kegs with many of the same benefits including complete light protection, which minimizes the risk of ‘skunking’ the beer,” said Chad Henderson, Head Brewer of NoDa Brewing Company. “The cans are also more durable, easier to transport than bottles and more environmentally friendly. In past years the inner lining of cans has evolved so the fear of off-flavor from the can material is no longer an issue and the canning line itself will allow for lower levels of dissolved oxygen increasing shelf life for the product.”
And here are the new labels!
My friend Bethany Burr, who blogs at You Better Craft Around, enjoys cooking with beer as much as she does drinking it. On Sunday, Aug. 18, you can try some of her dishes at NoDa Brewing from 3-4:30 p.m. For just $10, you can enjoy these dishes paired with the NoDa Brewing beers that were used in them. Not only that, but you’ll go home with the recipes in case you’d like to try your hand at cooking with beer.
Here are the dishes:
Hop Droppin’ Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese
Ramble on Bread Pudding
German ChocoLoco Cupcakes
Beer Bread Bites
The beer flight includes:
Hop, Drop ‘n Roll
Ramble on Red
RSVP on NoDa Brewing’s Facebook event page to reserve your space.