Betting Beers on Super Bowl 50

When the Carolina Panthers take on the Denver Broncos this Sunday, Vegas won’t be the only ones playing the odds. North Carolina’s brewers want a piece of the pie, and they’re backing their home team the best way they know how — by betting with beer.

The first beer-related bet came prior to the Panthers playing the Seattle Seahawks, and not from a brewer but from Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts. Roberts challenged Seattle Mayor Ed Murray to a friendly wager: if the Panthers lost, she’d send a trifecta of Queen City goodness in the form of barbecue from Mac’s Speed Shop, salted caramel brownies from Amélie’s French Bakery & Café and beer from The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery.

Fortunately, Roberts didn’t have to deliver on her end (and sorry, but she’s not sorry). Instead, Murray will be sending her a taste of Seattle: wine from South Seattle College’s Northwest Wine Academy, Chinese barbeque from Kau Kau and beer from Pike Brewing.

With the Panthers set to take on the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship, things got even more heated. The first shots fired came from Rob Fullmer, executive director of the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild, who in a video challenged the North Carolina Brewers Guild to a bet. The guild behind the losing team would not only have to send five different beers as well as food to go along with them, but they would also have to welcome the other guild into their state to brew a collaboration beer (to be named by the winning team).

Suffice it to say the Panthers are going to the Super Bowl, and some of North Carolina’s brewers will be travelling to Arizona to brew a collaboration beer (the details for which are forthcoming). The guild has also entered into a new wager with the Colorado Brewers Guild in which the losing state must host a tap takeover featuring five of the winning state’s best beers. And who decides which beers those are? You do, by nominating your favorite breweries from both states here

Individual breweries throughout Colorado and North Carolina are raising the stakes. Charlotte’s Wooden Robot Brewery has entered into a wager with Little Machine Beer, another robot-themed brewery that is located just a few blocks away from the Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver. If the Panthers win, Little Machine’s head brewer must dress up as Superman and perform “an undisclosed physical challenge” in tribute to Cam Newton. And if they lose, Wooden Robot’s Dan Wade will pay his own tribute to Peyton Manning by doing the same dressed as a sheriff, a nod to the longtime quarterback’s nickname.

Wardrobe requirements were part of Strange Craft Beer Co.’s challenge to NoDa Brewing as well. The Denver brewery has waged that if the Broncos win, NoDa’s co-founder Todd Ford must wear a Peyton Manning jersey at work and send a case each of the brewery’s Hop Drop ‘n Roll and Coco Loco Porter. If the Panthers win, Tim Myers from Strange Craft Beer Co. has agreed to send cases of their Cherry Kriek and Dr. Strangelove Barleywine. He’ll have to wear a Cam Newton jersey, naturally, and he’s going to have to dab on them folks. Both breweries will donate to charity in the other brewery’s name: NoDa Brewing to the Keep Pounding Fund, and Strange Craft Brewing Co. to the National Sports Center for the Disabled.

Last year Triple C Brewing’s head brewer Scott Kimball was in Denver at the Great American Beer Festival, where he accepted a bronze medal in the American-style Strong Pale Ale category for the brewer’s 3C IPA. Taking the silver medal in that category was Via Chicago, a pale ale by Coda Brewing Co. in Aurora. Given their shared proficiency in pale ales, the two have wagered a case of beer on their respective teams. And not only that, but one member of the losing brewery will have to get a tattoo of the other team’s logo.

Lone Tree and Sycamore

Triple C’s neighbors down the road at Sycamore Brewing have a similar wager. Like Triple C, Sycamore also won a bronze medal at last year’s Great American Beer Festival for its Southern Girl Lager in the American Style Lager or Light Lager category. Taking silver was Lone Tree Brewing out of Lone Tree, Colorado, and just ahead of them was that most famous of Colorado lager brewers, Coors Brewing Co. (for its Coors Banquet in particular). Sycamore and Lone Tree have since realized they have a lot in common, and so the two will be brewing a pair of India pale lagers soon (one featuring an ingredient from Colorado, the other with an ingredient from North Carolina). Until those are ready, the two breweries have come to an agreement: whichever team loses must dress in the other team’s colors and take a photo of themselves “drowning the sorrows of the loss with Coors Banquet beer.” The lower will also donate to a charity that supports the other team’s mascot (so horses for Colorado, and wildcats for North Carolina).

Even Durham’s Fullsteam Brewery has made what it’s calling “a sports ball wager in the name of beer” with Denver’s Spangalang Brewery. If you’re familiar with Fullsteam’s beers, it shouldn’t surprise you that their wager involves local ingredients. The winner of this wager will design a recipe for a beer that uses indigenous ingredients from their state, but the beer will be brewed and served in the loser’s brewery. Fullsteam’s crowdsourcing potential names, beer styles and ingredients on their Facebook event page.

Fullsteam’s even pre-gaming on Friday, Feb. 5 by releasing a beer called “Bless Their Heart.” It’s a twist on the Winter Rambler gruit they brewed with Charlotte’s Free Range Brewing, and it contains foraged juniper, Fraser fir and chokeberry syrup. It’s that last ingredient they feel best embodies Peyton Manning’s history of choking in the Super Bowl.

Whether Manning and the Broncos will do just that remains to be seen, but one thing is certain — North Carolina’s brewers have a lot at stake this year. And it’s not just the brewers: the Charlotte Observer has also entered into a wager with the Denver Post, with beer and barbecue on the line. Graphic designers from both Colorado and the Carolinas are facing off in a Design Brawl, with a six-pack’s worth of designs based on the Panthers and Broncos. And while you can’t influence the outcome of the game, you can vote on your favorite designs at

Sycamore and Triple C win medals at the Great American Beer Festival

Sycamore Brewing

Sycamore Brewing won a bronze medal for its Southern Girl Lager at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado. Pictured from left to right: Jordy Smith (Brewery Operations Manager), Justin Brigham (Owner & Brewer), and Andrew Viapiano (Head Brewer). (Photo courtesy Sycamore Brewing)

The Great American Beer Festival is about the closest thing you can get to a Super Bowl for brewers.

Held every year in Denver, Colorado, the three-day event includes an awards ceremony in which breweries receive gold, silver, or bronze medals across nearly every style of beer imaginable. And if you weren’t streaming this ceremony live today like myself and so many others, I’m pleased to tell you that Charlotte’s Sycamore Brewing and Triple C Brewing both took home some hardware.

I likened the event to the Super Bowl, but of course that’s a bit of hyperbole. Seeing our hometown brewers win wouldn’t be like watching the Carolina Panthers hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Rather, it’s more like knowing Cam Newton or Luke Kuechly before they were national names.

Scott Kimball Triple C Brewing

Scott Kimball, head brewer at Triple C Brewing, wearing his bronze medal for 3C IPA. (Photo by Scott Kimball)

And that’s how I always feel whenever breweries from Charlotte or across North Carolina win medals, whether at the Great American Beer Festival or any other awards ceremony. There’s a sense of pride in watching the people who you’ve seen working hard for years being recognized for their efforts. I’m never surprised to hear of these breweries winning (here in Charlotte, for example, we knew how good NoDa Brewing’s Hop, Drop ‘n Roll was before it won a gold medal at last year’s World Beer Cup), but that doesn’t make it any less exciting.

So I got to live vicariously through these breweries during the awards ceremony earlier, when I heard Sycamore Brewing win a bronze in the American Style Light Lager category for their Southern Girl Lager. Shortly thereafter, their neighbors at Triple C Brewing won a bronze in the Strong American Pale Ale category for their 3C IPA.

North Carolina on the whole represented well this year, with breweries from the Old North State taking home eight medals total. In addition to the aforementioned two, the following breweries won for these beers:

  • Fonta Flora Brewery Beets, Rhymes and Life won gold in the Field Beer category.
  • Duck-Rabbit Brewery Märzen won bronze in the German-Style Märzen category.
  • Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter won bronze in the Baltic-Style Porter category.
  • Wicked Weed Brewing Pernicious won silver in the American-Style India Pale Ale category.
  • Gibb’s Hundred Brewing The Guilty Party won gold in the Extra Special Bitter category.
  • Raleigh Brewing The Miller’s Toll won bronze in the Imperial Stout category.

Triple C and Sycamore Collaborate on “The Boozehound”

Triple C Brewing and Sycamore Brewing Collaboration

Photo by Sarah Brigham of Sycamore Brewing

The guys from Triple C Brewing made the short trip over to Sycamore Brewing on Jan. 22 to brew a beer with their SouthEnd neighbors. It’s the first collaboration beer either brewery has done, as well as the first between two Charlotte breweries (NoDa and OMB still plan to do one later this year).

The beer will be an 8.5 percent, 85 IBU double IPA brewed with Warrior, Citra, Amarillo, Mosaic and Calypso hops. Two dollars from the sale of each beer — which is dubbed “The Boozehound” — will benefit Rescued Me, a local non-profit organization that works to rehabilitate and find homes for dogs.

“We picked this charity because we both love dogs and thought it might encourage people to bring their dogs and make the walk between the two breweries on the light rail trail to try the two beers,” said Chris Harker, founder of Triple C Brewing.

The beer will only be served at the two breweries. While each brewery used their own house yeasts to ferment their respective batches, the beers will be blended together prior to being served. The Boozehound will be tapped on February 14 — which is Valentine’s Day, for all you dog lovers out there.

Charlotte Beer Babes Third Anniversary & Women’s Causes Fundraiser

Charlotte Beer BabesFor three years, the Charlotte Beer Babes have helped women enjoy and appreciate beer while also raising funds and awareness for various charities. They will continue these commitments this Sunday, Dec. 14, at the group’s third anniversary party.

Held at Sycamore Brewing from 12-6 p.m., the event will be both a celebration of the beer babes’ first three years and a fundraiser for Carolina Breast Friends and Safe Alliance, two local women’s charities.

The group will be participating in a yoga class at 12 p.m., and a self-defense class at 1 p.m. Both classes are $10 each, with the proceeds going to the aforementioned charities (donation jars will be on hand as well). These classes will be held outside under Sycamore Brewing’s heated tent and are for women only.

Remember, Remember, the First of November


“Remember, remember, the first of November: new breweries, beers and whatnot.
I know of no reason why this wonderful season should ever be forgot”. 

With apologies to Guy Fawkes, you’ll want to remember the first of November. Start your morning off at NoDa Brewing for their bottle release of Monstro, an imperial stout aged in Van Winkle Special Reserve bourbon barrels, at 10 a.m. Saturday morning. A food truck will be selling breakfast, which will be crucial for anyone drinking an 11.2 percent stout that early in the day.

Then head to Unknown Brewing for their own release of “La Jordana del Escorpion en Fuego Hacia la Casa del Chupacabra Muerto,” a 10.1 percent ABV Mexican imperial lager brewed with agave nectar, serrano peppers and 99 real scorpions. From 1-3 p.m., they will have a Mariachi band playing and free “Day of the Dead” face painting. Juan Taco will be parked outside. EDIT: The weekend just got a little less busy. Unknown has moved this bottle release to Sunday, Nov. 9, which is also the day they are hosting a chili cookoff. Bottles go on sale at 12:30 p.m., and you can start sampling chili around 2 p.m.

While you’re in SouthEnd, you’ll want to move on down to Sycamore Brewing, which will open their doors from 2-9 p.m. (I’ll have a little more on what you can expect next week).

Sycamore’s neighbors at Triple C Brewing will also be hosting their Harvest Fest and oyster roast. Tickets are $25, which includes one beer, oysters, and a $5 donation to Friendship Gardens. The Josh Daniel/Mark Schimick Project will play from 5-8 p.m. ,with oysters at 6 p.m.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. On Halloween night, The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery will tap Fat Boy Baltic Porter and host a Halloween costume contest. Bottles of a barrel-aged version will be released in January, when a breakfast and bottle share will accompany the release.

Also on Halloween, Birdsong Brewing will tap Mexicali Stout, its fall/winter seasonal brewed with cinnamon, chili spice and coffee from Charlotte’s Central Coffee Co.

Sycamore Brewing to open on Saturday, Nov. 1

Justin and Sarah Brigham have been working hard for many months now to open Sycamore Brewing, a new brewery right around the corner from Lenny Boy Brewing in SouthEnd. They recently announced that they will open their doors on Saturday, Nov. 1.

I’ll have more on what you can expect a little closer to that date, but for now go ahead and make plans to be there. Having seen a little of the taproom and had some of their beers, I can say I think you’ll really enjoy the spot and their offerings.