By Chrissie Nelson & Torie Robinette
One of the most popular food and beer pairings is the unbeatable combination of beer and cheese. In its Brauhaus, The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery serves up a beer cheese dip made with OMB’s Captain Jack Pilsner, which is the perfect dipping concoction for soft German pretzels. Heist Brewery offers a beer cheese dip that’s made with an in-house brew and served with wood-oven pretzel sticks. At AvidXchange Music Factory, VBGB Beer Hall & Garden whips up homemade beer cheese designed to accompany jumbo gourmet pretzels. VBGB also uses the homemade beer cheese to create its beer cheese nachos. In Midtown, The Melting Pot offers a choice of local brews for its “Craft Your Own Wisconsin Cheddar” cheese fondue.
Another common duo combines beer and flour to make a beer batter for deep frying. Carpe Diem Restaurant and Caterers uses The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s Copper to fry up the onion rings that adorn the menu’s filet. And Heirloom has used NoDa Brewing Company’s Woody & Wilcox IPA in a beer-battered fish recipe.
Soups & Stews
Chef Clark Barlowe and his team love playing with local ingredients at Heirloom. The menu changes nightly based on available local North Carolina ingredients, but Heirloom has featured a steamed shellfish dish using both Jam Session and Cavu from NoDa Brewing Company. Meanwhile, The Peculiar Rabbit in Plaza Midwood has featured a special beer cheese soup made with The Unknown Brewing Co.’s Tele-Porter. And VGBG Beer Hall & Garden has created a special chili using Birdsong Brewing Co.’s Jalapeño Pale Ale.
Food Truck Fare
Food trucks parked out front have become part of the Queen City’s brewery scene, but the stationary Twisted Eats food truck has a special connection with Wooden Robot Brewery, where it serves up tasty bites on Tuesday through Saturday evenings. Twisted Eats incorporates beer into many of its dishes, and its sole loyalty is to brews handcrafted by Wooden Robot. Try the macaroni and cheese-filled Boss Hog egg rolls; the noodles are boiled in Wooden Robot beer.
Meats & Veggies
Like marinades, beer works for seasoning meats and veggies because the low, slow cooking process develops tenderness and robust flavor. In NoDa, Davidson Street Public House’s beer-braised greens (braised with Birdsong Brewing Co.’s Mexicali Stout) are featured alongside crispy pork belly and grilled apples. Jack’s Corner Tap in Cornelius braises its baby back ribs in The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s Copper to make them fall off the bone.
Several Charlotte restaurants are spicing up their signature sauces with local brews. Order Revolution Ale House’s fried chicken wings, coated with a beer glaze that incorporates NoDa Brewing Company’s Ramble on Red. Or try Draught Charlotte’s chicken wings, which are drenched in a house Buffalo sauce made with The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s Copper. Be sure to snack on a spread of charcuterie at The Punch Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte, which comes with mustard made in house using NoDa Brewing Company’s Coco Loco.
Craft beers aren’t just fused into savory dishes; they have also found a place on dessert menus around the city. Chef Clayton at Davidson Street Public House plays with beer brulees on a rotating basis, featuring local favorites, like Birdsong Brewing Co.’s Mexicali Stout and NoDa Brewing Company’s Coco Loco. And don’t miss Pint Central’s bread pudding, which incorporates Noda Brewing Company’s Jam Session. It’s covered with caramel and smoked sea salt and will certainly satisfy your sweet tooth. Discover a little piece of heaven in a chocolate cupcake infused with NoDa Brewing Company’s Coco Loco brew. Find this scrumptious treat at Southern Cake Queen, Charlotte’s first dessert food truck, or at FuManChu Cupcakes in Plaza Midwood. For a more refreshing treat, cool down with one of King of Pop’s beer-infused popsicles, featuring local breweries. Popsicles on rotation include the Lime and Jalapeño pop made with Birdsong Brewing Co.’s Jalapeño Pale Ale, the Chocolate Sea Salt infused with NoDa Brewing Company’s Coco Loco and more.
Heist Brewery’s beer cocktails include The Cure, The Black Fog, Double Impact and more. Uptown, mixologist Bob Peters of The Punch Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte, whips up a bourbon cocktail known as the Loco Bison, which includes Noda Brewing Company’s Coco Loco.
Small Keys’ beer soap is quite possibly the most unique use of a Charlotte brew yet. Scented beer soaps, like Smoked Amber or Tea Tree, Lemongrass & Honey, use local craft beer from Triple C Brewing Co. in the creation process. Though they don’t actually smell like beer or contain any alcohol, the soap picks up some of the aromas of the beer’s hops, grains, malts and extracts. The beer creates foamy bubbles and a creamy texture, while the hops help to sooth the skin. Find these inventive soaps at 7th Street Public Market.
Thought you’d seen it all with beer-infused soap? Noda Brewing Company uses their beer cans to make cool, fashionable jewelry, including necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
This article originally ran in the April 2015 issue of Charlotte Happenings. This article was updated in March 2017.
For more on Charlotte's craft beer scene, visit cltontap.com.