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Kombucha maker Lenny Boy is breaking into beer

By Daniel Hartis

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  • Sip of the Week

    Irish Walker, Olde Hickory Brewery, Hickory.

    $8.99 for a 22-ounce bottle.

    The label for this year’s Irish Walker, Olde Hickory’s English barleywine, features silver medals from the 2010 World Beer Cup and the 2013 Great American Beer Festival. Next year’s label, I imagine, will feature their latest silver medal, from this year’s World Beer Cup, held April 11, about a week before the 2014 vintage hit shelves. Irish Walker is an exceptionally rich beer with notes of dark bread, caramel and plum. There’s just enough hop bitterness to prevent it from becoming cloying, though at 10 percent ABV this is one you will likely want to share. Think nightcap or dessert. Daniel Hartis



It was poet Robert Frost who wrote, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.”

Townes Mozer, founder of Charlotte’s Lenny Boy Brewing Company, agrees. He is set to knock out a wall separating his current taproom and the space next door, which he acquired in March after his neighbors moved their business a few doors down.

You might think he would use it to ramp up production of his company’s popular fermented teas called kombuchas, especially as they are poised to enter a couple of hundred Harris Teeter stores. The new space, however, will be devoted to beer, not kombucha.

In the current taproom, a window looks into the back where the kombucha is made in big silver tanks with white clothes draped over the open tops during fermentation. On the other side of the wall that is coming down is additional space for the taproom, which will essentially double the existing space and available seating. Another window will look in on the new 3.5-barrel brewhouse that Lenny Boy will use solely for brewing beer.

A single barrel of beer is around 31 gallons, so this system is capable of producing much larger batches than the 15-gallon system that head brewer John Watkins started using to brew beers late last year, when Lenny Boy became the state’s only certified-organic microbrewery.

The company will continue to use organic ingredients to craft traditional, true-to-style beers, such as Glu-curious, a Belgian tripel; Herb’s Pale Ale, which shares a name with Mozer’s uncle, father and grandfather; Burn Down Brown, an English brown ale brewed with lightly smoked oats; No-Show Amber, which is brewed to reduce gluten; and De La Wit, a witbier brewed with orange peel, orange oil and coriander.

The brewery’s Tart De La Wit starts life as the De La Wit, but then takes a sour turn after meeting peaches and a wild ale yeast.

The taproom will pour a baker’s dozen of assorted beers as well as both nonalcoholic and alcoholic kombuchas. (Mozer refers to the alcoholic ones as wild ales.)

If you do not love a wall, like Mozer and Frost before him, keep an eye on Lenny Boy’s website, DiscoverLennyBoy.com, for more information on the new taproom’s grand opening and a “Tearing Down The Wall” party.

Daniel Hartis is author of the books “Charlotte Beer: A History of Brewing in the Queen City” and “Beer Lover’s The Carolinas,” and editor of www.charlottebeer.com. Email: cltbeer@gmail.com; Twitter: @charlottebeer.
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