When Daniel Hartis returned to his native Charlotte in 2008 after a stint in Asheville, the city’s beer scene was just beginning to brew. Five years later he’s the guy behind Charlottebeer.com and @CharlotteBeer on Twitter. This month his first book, Charlotte Beer: A History of Brewing in the Queen City (The History Press), hits stores. We caught up with the craft beer devotee to get the scoop on Charlotte’s beer heritage and find out what’s on tap next. —SC
How far back did you go for Charlotte’s beer history? I wrote about colonial days when people were brewing in their homes—they had to improvise with things like ginger and persimmons and refer to them as beer even though they weren’t technically beer.
Any good stories from that era? I found it interesting that [local Revolutionary War hero] Captain James Jack was a tavern owner. The tavern was in the home he shared with his father—which the British burned to the ground in 1780.
Have there been hard times in more recent history for Charlotte beer? Mecklenburg County went dry in 1905 and didn’t repeal Prohibition until 1947. I focus a lot though on the 1990s scene here when craft beer started to gain ground. Johnson Beer Company had far reaching distribution, Charlotte Oktoberfest started, and the first brew-on-premise brewery, The Brewing Experience, opened.
Does the book reach to current day? It actually covers the current breweries as well as two new ones that are looking to open this year. I think one of the greatest things about our beer scene here is the diversity of the offering—which means there’s room for more.