Monday, April 8, 2013

Hey, Charlotte -- who put all this beer here?

There ought to be a better name for this than a beer crawl, what with all that pace-yourself and be-responsible stuff. But with all the breweries that have opened in Charlotte, you truly can put together a beer tour with no more effort than finding a place to park.

With gorgeous weather Saturday afternoon, my husband and I decided to explore breweries in NoDa. After all, it was so nice outside, surely there wouldn't be crowds. Whoa, guess again: Where are all these people coming from? Hanging out at a brewery is now the thing to do around here.

A flight at NoDa Brewing 
Most places have outdoor spaces as well as comfortable indoor rooms. We saw people with their dogs and a few
kids running around, even a baby getting cuddled in a sunny spot. Other food entrepreneurs join in, too. At NoDa and Birdsong, the King of Pops cart was offering a nice selection of frozen pops in flavors like chocolate mint, in case you wanted a break from beer.

1. NoDa Brewing Co., 2229 N. Davidson St. This is one of the most ambitious local breweries, with a chalkboard full of choices. They tap something new every Wednesday. With so many, it was hard to narrow it down to a flight. We ended up with Ramble on Red, an American red ale with a distinct note of coffee; the fruity/herby Hop, Drop & Roll IPA; The Monk's Trunks Belgian pale ale; and the fruity-in-a-good-way Jam Session. And we learned a new term: IBUs, or international bittering units. OK!

2. Birdsong Brewing Co., 2315 N. Davidson St. Don't be fooled by the address: It's actually right next door to NoDa. And while this isn't a popularity contest, I came away with a real fondness for this place. The style is simple and laid-back, all corrugated metal, concrete block and friendly staff. The beers are unfiltered and there was quite an interesting lineup. My flight here (shown in top photo): Doin' Thyme, a pale, light beer with a definite hit of thyme; Jalapeno -- yes, jalapeno, and it would be fabulous with food; Lazy Bird Brown, another one with a pleasant coffee taste; and Higher Ground IPA.

3. Heist Brewery, 2909 N. Davidson St. A little drive, but a short one, and there's plenty of parking. This is more like a restaurant with its own beer. Amazing woodwork here -- who's responsible for those stacked wood and stone pillars? The food is ambitious and unusual, with everything from a shrimp dish that involves cotton candy and test tube lobster bisque up to burgers and flatbread pizzas. We had maibock and Red No. 7, along with the addictively tasty baked beer cheese with warm pretzel sticks, pork belly corn dogs with a root beer/barbecue dipping sauce, a loaded-up salad called the Krone -- love the gorgonzola wrapped in bacon -- and the barbecue burger. They also have house-made sodas, a welcome touch for the designated driver.

Three stops, 3 hours. Where was this kind of street life when I moved to Charlotte as a young lass?


Anonymous said...

We had the same idea on Saturday afternoon, as well. We did Triple C, in South End, and then NoDa, for flights. Charlotte is starting to punch above its weight with local beer. NC breweries (quality and quantity) received a mention in the NYT travel section a couple of weekends ago.

Anonymous said...

Recently did a similar microbrew tour in Asheville. Many more places to choose from; some with incredible character and all offered tasty brews. We hit Highland, French Broad, Green Man, The Wedge, and Wicked Weed. Also stopped at Beer City Bikes, which has a nice selection of local brew on tap. Rather than doing flights, we stuck to pints. Fear not, we had a designated driver.

Anonymous said...

I did the NoDa crawl last Thanksgiving with wife & her brother. Our favorite was the Heist Dubbel. Will have to check out their Maibock as that was a favorite when we were in Germany last Spring.

We haven't tried anything from Triple C yet. Everything at Old Meck is awesome... heading there tomorrow to try the Dunkelweizen.

Anonymous said...

Triple C and NoDa are the two best in town for an IPA fan.

Anonymous said...

As a home brewer that puts a lot of malt and hops into my tasty Ale, I am disappointed to see that not one of these glasses of beer has retained a head. A beer with a lasting head of foam tells a lot about how much malted barley is in the brew. When you stick a thin hardwood toothpick vertically into my Ale's head it just stands there like a proud tree without sinking or falling over. Now, that, my friends, is a head that shouts "full bodied". Eschew wimpy watery brew! Arrrrr Matey!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the input, Home Brewer. Maybe this would be a good time to bring up another discussion my husband ponders: What's with the hops overkill? He feels that craft brews compete to see which beer can be the hoppiest. Is he alone in wishing someone would tamp it down a little? Does everything have to be bitter?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Kathleen's husband. Beer should be refreshing in the spring/summer(Hefeweizen, Urbock) and comfortable in the fall/winter (Dunkel, Bock, Marzen). Can't stand bitter IPAs. Might as well drink warm cheap whiskey.