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Pilot batches become big beer hits

By Daniel Hartis
Daniel Hartis
Daniel Hartis is the author of “Charlotte Beer: A History of Brewing in the Queen City” and the editor of the website CharlotteBeer.com.

In the last year, Charlotte breweries have bought extra equipment, taller tanks and – in the case of Olde Mecklenburg Brewery – bigger buildings. But sometimes the beers brewed on the smallest equipment draw the most attention.

Many of our local breweries have pilot systems that allow them to develop recipes or brew more experimental beers without the cost, time and ingredients larger batches require.

The pilot batches are often so popular, though, that they are later brewed on a larger scale.

This has proven to be the case at NoDa Brewing, which taps “NoDable Series” beers every Tuesday at the taproom. The first NoDable beer, a black IPA named Midnight Madness, was so popular that it was given a spot in the regular lineup. Beer like Ghost Hop, Hop Cakes and NoDajito also began life on the pilot system.

Each week, the brewery films humorous videos describing these beers. You can watch at www.youtube.com/nodabrewing.

Triple C Brewing taps its pilot batch beers on Wednesday nights. The first was Up All Night, a breakfast porter brewed with locally roasted coffee. It was later brewed on the big system, with bottles for sale at the brewery and local bottle shops.

On “Thursty Thursdays,” Birdsong taps its pilot-batch offerings. One Thursday, head brewer Conor Robinson hadn’t had the time to brew a separate beer, so he infused the brewery’s Free Will Pale Ale with fresh jalapeños.

The brewery’s Jalapeño Pale Ale is now brewed on the big system with 8 pounds of jalapeños, and it’s a cult favorite around town.

While it doesn’t regularly brew beers on a pilot system, Olde Mecklenburg Brewery does provide patrons with unique beers each week by tapping unfiltered versions on Unfiltered Thursdays.

Daniel Hartis is the author of “Charlotte Beer: A History of Brewing in the Queen City,” and the editor of the website www.charlottebeer.com. Email: cltbeer@gmail.comor follow him on Twitter, @charlottebeer.
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