Eat & Drink

How 6 Charlotte Brews Came to Be

Whether they’re a feat of engineering, brewed for a cause or inspired by industry and real-life pioneers, these brews offer unique ways to experience the craft and culture of Charlotte beer.

Photo by Kyo H. Nam Photography

Isn’t every month beer month? In Charlotte, maybe. But every April, what Charlotteans do best—hang out at breweries for hours on end—becomes a statewide celebration. With 30 days of festivals, dinners, crawls and more, North Carolina Beer Month encourages ale enthusiasts to pull out all the hops. For this month’s brew-haha, we scoped out cool beers and brewers that make the Queen City’s craft community as refreshing as, well, an ice cold beer.

Alexa Long - Photo by Kyo H. Nam Photography

Legion Brewing Company’s Juicy Jay IPA

“Customers would come into the homebrew store and go directly to the bearded guys with their questions and not the little blonde girl,” says Legion Brewing Company's head brewer Alexa Long of her early days as a female in a male-dominated industry. Back then, Long managed Alternative Beverage in South End, but little did those men know that the “little blonde girl” would soon brew one of Charlotte’s bestselling IPAs: Juicy Jay.

Born in Plaza Midwood, Juicy Jay can best be described as an East Coast IPA—a style known as a harmonious blend of bitter notes found in West Coast IPAs along with bold, juicy notes found in a New England IPA. Expect a slight haze with plenty of tangerine, grapefruit and pineapple notes all cloaked in a dry, yet refreshing finish. 

Generously Hopped IPA - Photo by Kyo H. Nam Photography

Wooden Robot Brewery’s Generously Hopped IPA

Generously Hopped from South End’s Wooden Robot Brewery not only gives you warm fuzzies from the intoxicating effects of the nectar of the gods but also from the fact that a portion of the beer’s proceeds go to charity. Much like the beer recipe itself, the charity the beer supports varies from month to month. Previous charities have included SHARE Charlotte, WFAE National Public Radio, and the Alzheimer’s Association Western Carolina Chapter.

While the brew itself varies, craft beer enthusiasts can expect a hazy, New England-style, juice bomb of an IPA. Variations range from Simcoe-forward hops for citrus and pine esters to El Dorado-forward hops for a fruit symphony of pineapple and mango notes. 

The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s Fat Boy Baltic Porter

The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s Fat Boy Baltic Porter isn’t your typical porter. “Your typical porter comes from an English descent and is brewed with ale yeasts,” says Dave Martin, director of brewery operations at OMB. “A Baltic porter is actually a lager.”

Highlighting dark fruits like dates and raisins over a bed of roastiness and chocolate, Baltic porters tend to be more dark brown than black. OMB chose to brew the lesser known version of the porter as it better fits the German styles the brewery is known for. It’s a risk that paid off, as OMB took home the gold for Fat Boy in the Baltic Porter category at the 2017 European Beer Star. 

Agate Have It - Photo by Kyo H. Nam Photography

Three Spirits Brewery’s Agate Have It English Brown Ale

Emblazoned on the front of the Three Spirits Brewery building in Lower South End is a mural depicting the spirits of Past, Present and Future. The Charles Dickens reference is a daily reminder to Tabu Terrell, brewmaster and owner, about why he left a lucrative career as an emergency room physician to become one of the first African-Americans to open a brewery in North Carolina.

Agate Have It’s quaff-ability won it not only silver at the 2016 US Open Beer Championship but also another silver at the 2017 Beer Army Beer Wars Competition. It tastes best in a cozy pub among loved ones—or at least at one of Three Spirits’ music bingo nights.

Systema Naturae - Photo by Kyo H. Nam Photography

D9 Brewing Company’s Systema Naturae Wild Sour Ale Series

From packaging to beer, Cornelius’ D9 Brewing Company exudes a nerdy fun that can only be found from a brewery started by engineers. A perfect example is their Systema Naturae Wild Sour Ale Series. “With Systema Naturae, we show off fruits and flowers that we found around the world with new and experimental fermentation techniques,” says Andrew Durstewitz, CEO and co-founder.

D9 releases a new edition of Systema Naturae each quarter. Previous editions have included cherimoya and elderflower, cherry and sunflowers, and maple and spruce. The mixed wild fermentation brewery won gold for their scuppernong and lily version in 2016 at the Great American Beer Festival. 

Conquer The Route - Photo by Kyo H. Nam Photography

Bold Missy Brewery’s Conquer The Route Chocolate Stout

In NoDa, Charlotte’s first all-female owned brewery, Bold Missy Brewery, serves crafts inspired by bold women (hence the name). “We want to brew well-loved craft beer inspired by the bold missies whose actions have inspired us,” says Lybbi Roth, whose business card reads “Tap Room Boss & Hyperwoman.”

One is Alison Levine—the mountain climber who led the first all-women’s U.S. team to attempt to summit Mount Everest. Her beer, Conquer The Route, is a silky, chocolate stout brewed with 100 percent pure liquid cacao from Ecuador. “We wanted to find a chocolate source as adventurous as Alison,” Roth says. Unlike most chocolate-infused stouts, Conquer the Route is lighter in body and void of harsh, bittersweet chocolate notes.