“Beer Lover’s The Carolinas” Book Signings in Charlotte

Beer Lover's The Carolinas

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!

Want to Help Brew the OMB and NoDa Collaboration Beer?

OMB and NoDa Collaboration Beer

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.

The Great NC BBQ Map

The Great NC BBQ Map

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.

NoDa Brewing and Olde Mecklenburg to Collaborate

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.

NoDa Brewing’s Hop Drop ‘n Roll among BeerAdvocate’s 50 Most Popular IPAs

NoDa Brewing Hop Drop 'n Roll Can

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.


Charlotte Breweries Roll Out the Barrels

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.

Please head over to the Observer to read my piece on bourbon barrel-aged beers in Charlotte, and to check out my “Sip of the Week.”

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.

NoDa Brewing to release 16 oz. cans of Jam Session, Hop, Drop ‘n Roll

NoDa Brewing CompanyA 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!

NoDa Brewing Hop Drop 'n Roll Can

NoDa Brewing Jam Session Can

Beer and Food Event at NoDa Brewing

Bethany Burr Cooks with Beer at NoDa Brewing

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
Monk’s Chicken
Ramble on Bread Pudding
German ChocoLoco Cupcakes
Beer Bread Bites

The beer flight includes:

Hop, Drop ‘n Roll
Monk’s Trunks
Ramble on Red
Coco Loco

RSVP on NoDa Brewing’s Facebook event page to reserve your space.

NoDa Brewing to release “Hot Pistol” on Saturday, Aug. 10


On Saturday, Aug. 10, NoDa Brewing will release Hot Pistol, the chocolate, raspberry and habanero stout that took Best of Show in the brewery’s Top of the Hop Pro-Am homebrewing competition earlier this year. The beer was entered by David Tollefson, who with Glenn Cutler makes up the NC  Beer Guys.

This beer is not bottled, but will be available on tap at NoDa Brewing starting at noon on Saturday, Aug. 10. The next week, it will start popping up on tap around Charlotte and the Triangle (the NC Beer Guys are based out of Raleigh).  Those who want a little more kick are encouraged to participate in a habanero-eating contest that starts at 2 p.m. that Saturday.

The NC Beer Guys are naturally excited to see their recipe brewed by a professional brewery.

“”We’re extremely excited that NoDa Brewing picked our beer to be brewed on their system.  It’s every homebrewer’s dream to have their recipe recognized by industry professionals and brewed on a large scale,” said David Tollefsen in NoDa Brewing’s press release.  “Our experience brewing with Chad and Todd was nothing short of amazing and an incredible opportunity to see first-hand what they do every day.”

NoDa Brewing’s co-owner Todd Ford was equally appreciative of the NC Beer Guys and the many other homebrewers who submitted entries to the brewery’s inaugual Top of the Hop competition.

“Myself and the entire NoDa Brewing Crew were so excited by the exceptional quality of the home brew entries in our first Top of the Hop Pro-Am,” said Todd Ford, Co-owner & Head of Production.  “We are extremely thankful for the participants, volunteers, and judges that made the whole experience so enjoyable.  I think that Hot Pistol has something for everybody…a rich Chocolate aroma, flavor accented with the tartness of Raspberries and the subtle heat of Habanero peppers.  All of this is wrapped up in incredibly drinkable Stout.”

Ryan Heefner talks “Smile, We Get to Make Beer”

Ryan Heefner, director of "Smile, We Get to Make Beer"

Ryan Heefner films Dave Tollefsen of the NC Beer Guys as he brews "Hot Pistol," which won Best of Show at the brewery's Top of the Hop homebrewing competition.

Since he began filming at NoDa Brewing Company last December, Ryan Heefner has racked up hours of footage for his forthcoming documentary, “Smile, We Get To Make Beer.” His favorite moment, however, was when he spent the night inside the brewery to catch Chad Henderson brewing at 4 a.m.

“I looked up into the brewery and saw them running around filming Chad, filming machinery, recording all the sounds of everything and I just stopped and took it all in,” said Ryan, the film’s director. “This was really happening. I could hardly believe that I was getting the chance to do something I had just imagined be able to do. Over a year and half of careful thought and studying and wondering what it’d be like to do something like this. It had all come together. No lie, I thought to myself, ‘Smile, you get to make this film!‘”

That thought and the film’s title were inspired by a sheet of paper taped to the glass wall separating NoDa Brewing’s taproom and the brewery itself. The sign reads “Smile, We Get To Make Beer,” and it is something that head brewer Chad Henderson and founders Todd and Suzie Ford can point to whenever the long days begin to take their toll. No matter how grueling the work — and brewing certainly is more physically-exhausting than many realize — Chad, Todd and Suzie can smile because they are doing something they love.

Ryan can relate. He visited Founders Brewing Company in Michigan and was struck by how all of the employees seemed to genuinely enjoy what they were doing. He returned to Charlotte in search of that sort of atmosphere. This was about a year before NoDa Brewing opened, and he thought to himself, “Wouldn’t it be cool if this turned out to be the next big thing in craft beer and someone was able to capture that story right from the ground level?”

When tasked with coming up with an idea for a short documentary for a class at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Ryan’s plan to focus on NoDa Brewing was well-received by his professor. He initially thought about focusing on how craft breweries were thriving in a struggling economy, but with just 15 minutes he knew he had to have a more narrow focus.

“So I stripped everything away and looked at the bare essentials and realized that if I kept the story within the walls of the brewery, I could tell a very intimate, human story that we can all relate to and find value and inspiration in,” Ryan said. “That’s the most exciting part to me. It isn’t just about how they make beer. It’s about how they get up every morning and do the thing they love the most. And it may be hard and dirty and exhausting, but it is 100% worth every blood, sweat, and tear. This isn’t a story about beer; it’s about people with passion and purpose.”

That story, as Ryan soon found out, needed more than the 15 minutes he was allowed for a short documentary. What started out as a class project evolved into an independent study and then a main thesis project, allowing Ryan to devote more time and film to the story he wanted to tell. You can still find him filming at the brewery and at various events, including Charlotte Oktoberfest and possibly even the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, where last year NoDa Brewing took home a silver medal for their Coco Loco Porter.

Ryan plans to continue filming up to the brewery’s second anniversary in October. After that, he’ll begin post-production with a goal of getting the film out before February of next year. Be on the lookout for a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds to help finish the film and get it submitted to film festivals.

The film will screen in Charlotte next year, but you can get a sneak peek this Sunday, July 28 at World of Beer Southend from 5-10 p.m. You can meet Ryan and Chad, enter various raffles and hear live music from Jimmy’s Moped.