Eat & Drink

Charlotte Breweries: The Beer Bucket List

From pilsners and blondes to stouts and IPAs, these are the 10 must-try brews that helped put Charlotte on the beer map.

Sycamore Brewing - Photo by Kyo H Nam

The craft beer scene has exploded in Charlotte. Neighborhoods like NoDa, South End and Plaza Midwood are home to 25 breweries (and counting) that garner national attention for pulling pints and popping tops on unique and award-winning beers. Here’s how to sip your way around Crown Town.

1. Hop, Drop 'n Roll at NoDa Brewing Company

This IPA with intense hop flavor is made with five different varieties of hops, including chinook, warrior and centennial, and a blend of multiple malts. The signature brew packs a lot of flavor into a single, colorful can. Pop a top on this local favorite—one sip will make it clear why Hop, Drop ‘n Roll took home a gold award at the 2014 World Beer Cup.

Birdsong Brewing Co. - Photo by Eric Gaddy

2. Jalapeño Pale Ale at Birdsong Brewing Co.

Fresh jalapeño peppers are hand-chopped and added to Free Will Pale Ale to create a spiced beer with a crisp flavor. Removing the seeds preserves the flavor and aroma of the jalapeño peppers without adding heat to the herbed brew. It’s been a perennial favorite since the NoDa brewery introduced it in 2011.

3. Citraphilia at Lenny Boy Brewing Co.

Made with 100 percent Citra hops, the American IPA boasts a signature citrus flavor and aroma that earns high marks with craft beer lovers. Lenny Boy Brewing Co. is the only certified organic microbrewery in North Carolina and, like all beers coming out of the South End brewery, Citraphilia is made with organic ingredients.

Sugar Creek Brewing - Photo by Eric Gaddy

4. Biére de Garde at Sugar Creek Brewing Company

The name Biére de Garde is French for “beer for keeping” and refers to a strong ale brewed during winter and spring and kept for summertime sipping. Sugar Creek Brewing Company imports ingredients like strisselspalt hops to create a malt-forward amber ale. Biére de Garde earned gold medals at the U.S. Open Beer Championship and the Best of Craft Beer Awards.

5. Cream of the Crop at Free Range Brewing

With a goal of “bringing local closer to home,” Free Range Brewing emphasizes local ingredients in its ever-changing lineup of small batch beers. The signature cream ale, Cream of the Crop, is the sole beer available on tap all year. Made with North Carolina malt and corn, the brewery calls it an “anytime, anywhere, anyone” beer.

6. Hornet's Nest at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

Charlotte was once referred to as “a hornet’s nest of rebellion,” and this OMB brew is a nod to the centuries-old resistance. There is no resistance, however, to the malt-driven flavor and hint of sweetness that has made the Hefeweizen an enduring favorite since its 2013 release.

Triple C Brewing - Photo by Eric Gaddy

7. Baby Maker at Triple C Brewing Co.

This South End brewery is known for its barrel-aged beers. With 8.5 percent ABV—almost double their signature Golden Boy Blonde Ale and Light Rail Pale Ale—this double IPA packs a punch. The rich amber color complements the bold malt flavors in this popular brew.

8. High Fives at Heist Brewery

Sweet Dance Moves and Nunchuck Skillz are among the creatively named craft beers on the menu at this NoDa brewery. But Heist Brewery is known as a Belgian-style brewpub, so it’s no surprise that Hive Fives, its Belgian blonde, is a crowd favorite.

9. Southern Girl at Sycamore Brewing

Grab a seat on the patio and pop the top on a can of Southern Girl. The blonde ale is one of four core beers brewed at the South End brewery. The combination of malt and the slight sweetness from notes of strawberries and melon led Sycamore Brewing to call Southern Girl, “perfectly balanced.”

Wooden Robot Brewery - Photo by Eric Gaddy

10. Good Morning Vietnam/Good Night Vietnam at Wooden Robot Brewery

For the times it’s impossible to choose just one beer, Wooden Robot Brewery created two distinct brews that complement each other perfectly. Both beers feature coffee beans freshly roasted by Enderly Coffee Roasters. Good Morning Vietnam is a blonde ale brewed with Ethiopian Coffee and Madagascar vanilla beans, while Good Night Vietnam is a porter brewed with Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee and Madagascar vanilla beans. Despite the similar ingredients, the beers have remarkably different flavor profiles.