Charlotte’s NoDa Brewing Co. has cracked the toughest category in one of the nation’s biggest beer competitions, winning a gold medal for its Hop, Drop ‘N Roll IPA.
How big a deal is that?
“It doesn’t get a whole lot bigger than this,” said Margo Knight Metzger, executive director of the N.C. Craft Brewers Guild. “Everybody in NoDa must be totally over the moon. They instantly hit the big time.”
Winners at the World Beer Cup, held every other year, were announced Friday in Denver. Along with the Great American Beer Festival competition, also in Denver, the two contests are considered the major ones to watch for craft brewing.
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NoDa wasn’t the only N.C. brewery to do well at the World Beer Cup. While California and Colorado took the majority of awards, eight N.C. breweries came home with medals: White Street Brewing in Wake Forest, Outer Banks Brewing Station in Kill Devil Hills and Asheville Brewing Co. all won gold, while Olde Hickory and Lynnwood Brewing Concern earned silver and Mother Earth Brewing and Wicked Weed Brewing took home bronzes.
“I’m even more excited about that,” NoDa owner Todd Ford said Monday of the strong showing for in-state breweries. “It shows we’re all pulling together in North Carolina.”
Ford went to Denver for the competition but only had one ticket for the gala. He sent head brewer Chad Henderson and went to a local bar wearing a NoDa T-shirt. The bartender came out and told him, “You just won a gold medal.”
“We were like, ‘Shut up!’ ”
What makes NoDa’s win particularly exciting, though, is that the brewery didn’t just win a medal. It won the most sought-after medal of the competition: The American IPA category is the hottest, with 224 entries.
“That really is a very, very competitive category,” said Charlotte beer writer Daniel Hartis, who writes The Observer’s Beer Here column. “So it’s all the more impressive for it.”
Metzger said North Carolina now has more than 100 breweries. But among all of those, she has become a fan of NoDa.
On Sunday night, after getting back from Denver, she offered her husband a beer and just happened to have a can of Hop, Drop ‘N Roll, which is now available in bottle shops and some supermarkets in a four-pack for $11.99.
“He said, ‘Only if it’s the No. 1 IPA in the country.’
“Everybody in Charlotte knew how good it was. Now the rest of the world knows.”