Rí Rá Irish Pub in uptown Charlotte moves a lot of Guinness. That probably doesn’t surprise you, but if you haven’t been by the longtime Charlotte pub recently, you might not realize they’re selling a lot more than “the black stuff” that’s become so synonymous with Irish pubs.
The bar has made it a point to bring in a variety of local drafts, and the owners are hosting their first beer festival – the Rí Rá Rockabilly Brewfest, 2-6 p.m. Saturday.
“When people think Irish pub, they think Guinness and Smithwick’s and Magners and stuff,” said Emmet Power, the sales and events manager at Rí Rá. “We have all that, fair enough, but we have such a massive amount of taps that we want to have one tap for each local brewery.”
Power joined the pub about a year ago after working at a bar in Washington, D.C. Soon after, he and general manager Dermot Lloyd set about filling the bars 42 taps – 24 downstairs and 18 upstairs – with lots of local options.
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“We came up with a motto of ‘loyal to local,’ ” said Power. “Local breweries are popping up everywhere, and it’s been fantastic to see. One thing we wanted to do is get involved with the local breweries and promote them more.”
Rí Rá will do that not just by pouring those local breweries’ beers every day, but by featuring some of them at the beer festival this Saturday.
The festival is smaller than many others, taking place upstairs with live music on the bar’s stage. The event will feature beers from Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Birdsong Brewing, Legion Brewing, NoDa Brewing, The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Sugar Creek Brewing and The Unknown Brewing Co.
Many of these breweries are packed virtually every day, said Power, but he notes that there are people that want those same craft selections at bars uptown. With the increased selection of local beer, he hopes the pub can appeal to people who live or work uptown as well as people visiting Charlotte on business.
“It’s just a celebration of local breweries and the fact that Charlotte has embraced the craft beer movement amazingly well,” said Power.
The Irish pub will celebrate with live music from two rockabilly acts: the Parodi Kings and Little Lesley and the Bloodshots.
The Rockabilly Brewfest will take place at Rí Rá Irish Pub (208 N. Tryon St.), with parking validated at the Center City Green parking garage on E. Sixth St. Tickets are $25 (at the door or at www.bit.ly/rockabillybrew), which gets you a 5-ounce mug and unlimited sampling from 2 to 6 p.m.
Event of the week
Free Range Brewing Turns 1
When: 1-11 p.m. Saturday.
Where: 2320 N. Davidson St.
What: Free Range Brewing will celebrate its first year in business with several special beers on tap, including its new bourbon barrel-aged braggot (think honey beer) called Honey, Beer Strong. Also on tap will be a barrel-aged version of Rice Rice Baby, the rice milk stout it brewed in collaboration with Birdsong Brewing, and Yours and Mine, the collaboration it (and the other NoDa-area breweries) brewed with New Belgium. As if that wasn’t enough collaboration, the brewery will have guest taps from Burial Beer Co., Fonta Flora Brewery and Fullsteam Brewery as well. Several food trucks will be parked outside throughout the day, and there will be live music from three different bands. For $8, you will receive a commemorative glass and two drink tokens (which will be used for all drinks on that day). Details: www.facebook.com/freerangebrewing/.