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Why Charlotte is the Next Big Beer City

The Queen City is becoming a king of craft beer in the U.S.

The Queen City is quickly becoming a king of craft beer in the U.S.

As one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., Charlotte is on the rise—and so is its craft beer scene. Here are just a few reasons why Charlotte should be on your radar as one of the nation’s next major beer cities.

1. The stats support it.
From a fast-growing brewery scene to increased craft beer sales and visitation to area breweries, Charlotte’s got a lot when it comes to craft beer—and we’ve got the numbers to prove it.

  • From 2012 to 2016, the number of breweries in the Charlotte area has grown from seven to 37. This represents a 428 percent increase compared to a 108 percent growth nationally.*
  • The current brewery count within the Charlotte region is 37 with 23 more currently under construction or in planning. The region accounts for approximately 20 percent of the 175+ breweries in North Carolina. 
  • 59 percent of people agree or strongly agree that Charlotte is a great city for craft beer and local breweries.**
  • In 2015, the Charlotte region was home to 527 brewery jobs, 22 percent more brewery jobs than the national average and a 99 percent growth in the area since 2012. The number of brewery jobs in the area is expected to increase.***
  • Charlotte-area breweries produced an estimated 93,713 barrels of beer in 2016.***
  • From 2014 to 2015, Charlotte experienced a 21.8 percent increase in craft beer sales, ranking fifth in the U.S.****

2. The Charlotte area has seen explosive brewery growth (with no signs of stopping).
Since 2009, the Charlotte craft beer scene has seen exponential growth with dozens breweries opening one by one in hip and artsy neighborhoods like NoDa and South End. And areas like LoSo (Lower South End) are making a name for themselves as the next big drinking district in the city. Beyond city limits, towns like Cornelius, Mooresville and Concord have caught the craft beer buzz with pockets of breweries opening just a short drive from Uptown Charlotte.

These enclaves are continuing to develop a strong craft beer presence with craft breweries, bottle shops and beer bars sprinkled throughout while also welcoming new craft distilleries and cideries to the scene. And with the opening of the LYNX Blue Line light rail extension in 2018, access to many of these hoppy hot spots via public transportation will become easier than ever. 

3. The city’s brews and craft beer culture are garnering national attention.
With dozens of breweries opening over the course of eight years, Charlotte has made a name for itself on the nation’s and world’s craft beer map. And brewmasters inspired by local ingredients, unique methods and shapeshifting philosophies have poured their hearts into their handcrafted creations—and they’re getting noticed, too.

Accolades: 

Award-winning brews:

  • NoDa Brewing Company won a gold medal for its NoDajito at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival.
  • D9 Brewing Co. won a gold medal for its Dry-Hopped Systema Naturae – Scuppernong & Lily at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival.
  • NoDa Brewing Company’s Hop Drop n' Roll made Men's Journal's List of 25 best American IPAs in 2016.
  • Heist Brewery’s Brockwell English-style Mild Ale won a bronze medal at the 2016 World Beer Cup. 
  • Sugar Creek Brewing Company’s took home a gold medal for its Biere De Garden ale and Raspberry White, a Belgian-style fruit beer.
  • Three Spirits Brewery won a silver medal for its Agate Have It brown ale, Honey Porter and Red Moon Rising amber-style beer in the 2016 U.S. Open Beer Championships.
  • Lenny Boy Brewing Co.’s Burn Down for What sour won the title of Best Organic Sour at the National Organic Beer Competition in 2015 and the bronze medal at the 2016 Best of Craft Beer Awards. 
  • Sugar Creek Brewing Company’s Belgian Dubbel won a silver medal at the U.S. Open Beer championship in 2015, and its Biére de Garde won the gold medal in the 2016 Best of Craft Beer Awards.
  • Sycamore Brewing’s Southern Girl Blonde Lager won a bronze medal at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival.
  • Triple C Brewing Co.’s 3 C IPA each won a bronze medal at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival.
  • Triple C Brewing Co. won bronze in the Baltic/Imperial Porter category for its Up All Night breakfast porter for RateBeer’s Best in 2015 Awards.
  • In 2015, The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s Mecktoberfest took home the gold at the European Beer Star International Competition for German-style Märzen, a category that that had not seen a non-German winner since 2011. 
  • D9 Brewing Co. won second place for its Viking Fraoch and third place for their Ezekial 25:17 in the sour/wild beers category at the 2015 Great International Beer & Cider Competition.
  • NoDa Brewing Company won the gold medal for its Hop, Drop n’ Roll IPA at the 2014 World Beer Cup.

4. Charlotteans love their local beer, creating a high supply and demand for it everywhere in the city.
Locals and visitors have fallen in love with the community vibe and the unique setting of each brewery in Charlotte, but more importantly, they‘ve developed a strong preference for the homegrown beer churned out by each. The high demand for local suds has resulted in hundreds of restaurants and bars adding them to their tap lines and the majority of attractions across the region featuring them; there are few places in Charlotte you can go and not find a local brew to enjoy. And brewery or beer bar hopping (most with gorgeous patios) has become a weekend ritual for Charlotte-area residents and a magnetic draw for visitors with cravings for local brews.

According to December 2016 data from the Untappd app, the top-five breweries based on ratings on a scale of 1 to 5 in Charlotte city limits are Wooden Robot Brewery (3.88 rating), Salud (3.85 rating), Heist Brewery (3.75 rating), NoDa Brewing Company (3.74 rating) and Sycamore Brewing (3.74 rating). And one of the most popular local beers is Hop, Drop n’ Roll IPA, which has garnered 43,183 check-ins on Untappd.

5. The Charlotte area has beer tours and festivals galore.
As craft beer has continued to dominate more and more of Charlotte’s cultural scene, the city has become a proud host for beer tours and festivals year-round, offering up the perfect way to experience a variety of the region’s local beers. Beer lovers can hop on a tour with Charlotte Brews Cruise and Charlotte NC Tours or create their own beer crawl on Trolley Pub Charlotte. Or they can choose from more than 20 beer festivals held in the area each year, including the Moo and Brew Craft Beer and Burger Festival, Tuck Fest, and the North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival.

 

Brewers Association 2015 Craft Brewing Growth& Brewers Association 2016 Craft Beer Year in Review

 ** CRVA Research, 2016 Out-of-market Perception Study
***Charlotte Chamber Craft Beer Impact

**** TheStreet.com 10 Cities Where Craft Beer is Taking Off
† The Charlotte region refers to the 16-county region around Charlotte, including 12 counties in North Carolina and four counties in South Carolina.

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