This piece originally published April 29, 2016. It was updated by CharlotteFive staff March 18, 2018.
Sure, you may not be picking your next pint based on its brewery’s name. But you’ve undoubtedly been curious about the origins of a few around town (hello, Ass Clown). From the amusing tale of Birdsong to the Southern roots of Sycamore, these are the stories behind the clever monikers of your favorite Charlotte breweries.
Matt Glidden, head brewer and founder of this Cornelius brewery, has always enjoyed beer festivals. But after sampling so many breweries at the events, he found he’d often forget their names. “I really wanted a name that burns into the memory,” says Glidden, who turned brewing from a hobby to a career. “I guess the name shows a little twisted sense of humor. I figured it’s beer, why does it need a serious name?”
10620 Bailey Road, Cornelius.
— Birdsong Brewing (@BirdsongBrewing) March 10, 2016
When now managing partner Chris Goulet and his friends were creating their NoDa neighborhood brewery, he decided to visit Asheville to check out a few breweries with his wife, Tara, and the man who would become his brewmaster, Conor Robinson. “We stayed together in a dinky little hostel,” says Goulet. “I discovered that when Conor snores, he sounds like a little sparrow. I actually thought there was a sparrow somehow trapped in the room. The next morning, I pitched them on calling it Birdsong.”
1016 N. Davidson St.
This 10,000-square-foot spot featuring its Fanatical Ales borrowed its name from its congressional district. “The owners have all lived in the district for more than 10 years,” says Jackie Bueker, who works at the Cornelius brewery. “This is their way of showing gratitude and acknowledging the district that they proudly call home.”
11138 Treynorth Drive, Cornelius.
For this locally sourced, small batch brewery founded by two brothers, the name choice took awhile. “We spent years falling in love and out of love with many names, all the while describing them as, ‘you know, kinda like free range,’” says co-founder Jason Alexander, who notes that finally settling on Free Range Brewing felt like an “ah ha!” moment. “It says everything we could ever possibly want to say about our beer, our culture and business philosophy. We like to think outside the box when it comes to the beer and the overall experience we offer.”
2320 N. Davidson St.
A photo posted by Heist Brewery (@heistbrewery) on Apr 23, 2016 at 11:04am PDT
Owner Kurt Hogan chose his brewery and restaurant’s name when he was still in business school with plans to move to Charlotte. “My buddy and I were just spit balling names,” he says. “ We were really into the Prohibition era, and with Charlotte being a banking capital we wanted to play off of that.” As it turns out, though, Hogan has another tie to the criminal name. “Baby Face Nelson was my grandmother’s cousin,” he says. “So I’m actually a relative of public enemy number one.”
2909 N. Davidson St. #200.
When Phil Buchy was imagining his inviting Plaza Midwood brewery, he envisioned it as a spot for the local community to gather. The longtime brewer’s philosophy was that sharing good beer with friends is “one of life’s great pleasures,” he says. But ultimately the name came from those who supported him and helped him and his co-owners open Legion. “I’ve had a legion of friends behind me,” he says. “That’s where the name comes from, and that’s what finally got us here.”
1906 Commonwealth Ave.
Five years ago Townes Mozer, the founder of this South End beer and kombucha brewery, was hanging out with several friends, trying to think of a name, but nothing seemed to fit. “We were outside, and Lennox, my dog, was running around,” says Mozer. “One of my friends yelled over, ‘Come here, Lenny Boy,’ which was Lennox’s nickname. Then we started saying ‘Hey man, get me a Lenny boy.’ It flowed, was unique, and was perfect for us.”
2224 Hawkins St.
When Suzie and Todd Ford were launching their now-famed brewery, they hadn’t yet settled on a location. On a trip home from Ohio, the pair brainstormed names before later discovering almost all of them had been taken. They temporarily landed on Chalkboard Brewing – until they found their original location on North Davidson Street. “Finally, we pulled the trigger and someone mentioned calling it NoDa Brewing Company,” says Suzie. “We were sure that was already taken, but to our surprise it wasn’t… the rest is history.”
2921 N. Tryon St.
It only makes sense that a brewery name that includes “Olde” would come with a story full of history. Charlotte is named for Britain’s Queen Charlotte, who was originally from the German state of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, which is where Mecklenburg County got its name. “We mainly produce German-style beers and reside in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County,” says owner John Marino. “The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery is the perfect name.”
4150 Yancey Road.
— Sugar Creek Brewing (@sugarcreekbrew) April 26, 2016
This Belgian-inspired South End brewery was co-founded by Joe Vogelbacher, who grew up next to Charlotte’s Little Sugar Creek. “Naming the brewery after the area where he grew up was his way of creating a brewery that paid homage to the Charlotte community that raised him,” says brewery marketing manager Erica Bear. And next time you’re in the taproom, take a closer look at the brewery’s playful logo. It includes a clown triggerfish, which represents the return of fish to that once polluted waterway.
215 Southside Drive.
If you’ve ever spent a Saturday sipping and sampling in this South End brewery’s popular beer garden and wondered about the story of the name behind your brew, it’s a simple one. “We wanted something that was natural and spoke to place,” says Sarah Brigham, who founded the brewery with her husband, Justin. “Justin’s got Southern roots, and we pride ourselves in using only natural ingredients. Sycamore was a great fit.”
2161 Hawkins St.
If you enjoy the heartwarming story of “The Christmas Carol,” you might like a pint at this South End brewery. Owner Tabu Terrell’s first career was as an emergency room physician, but he felt he was going down a similar path to the story’s notorious Scrooge, who was visited by three spirits. “I was working for money, not spending enough time with family and friends, and just becoming an overall unpleasant person,” he says. Terrell began brewing as a hobby, but then switched gears to pursue his dream career. “The name and logo are a reminder that family and friends are the true source of happiness.”
5046 Old Pineville Road.
In 2012, a team of three friends opened this brewery in its 20,000-square-foot South End facility. Since then, they’ve added 10,000 additional square feet including a soon-to-open event space – and had a few other changes. “Triple C was named for its three original founders,” says owner Chris Harker. “Myself, and Chris and Christina Murphy. The other two Cs moved on to other adventures, and my partners are now my father, Brian Harker, and our head brewer, Scott Kimball.”
2900 Griffith St.
Several years ago, founder Brad Shell was at a Waffle House at 3 a.m. trying to convince his friends to go whitewater rafting, which they were resisting in favor of a good night’s sleep. According to Shell, he said, “We as humans are meant to live more than this. Screw your 9-to-5 jobs and your box stores. It’s time to step into the unknown.” He now sees this as his eureka moment. From that point forward, the owner and brewer has been trying to create a culture in which people step out of their comfort zones – and into The Unknown.
1327 S. Mint St.
“The name represents the blending of seemingly disparate elements into a wonderful union,” says Josh Patton, co-founder of this cozy South End brewery. He notes that the wood is emblematic of the brewing tradition, while the robot embodies innovation. But Patton goes on to point out what may be the most important symbolization: “Building a robot from wood is silly, bordering on ridiculous,” he says. “This reminds us never to take ourselves too seriously.”
1440 S. Tryon St. #110.
Brewery founder Carol Waggener was called “Bold Missy” by her first boss. Her boss would see Waggener coming into work and shout, “Look out everybody! Here comes the Bold Missy!”
Time working at a mega brewer and her love of the fun aspects of the beer business (like craft beer pub crawls) led her to start Bold Missy Brewery, “in celebration of great Bold Missies and Misters, … and the people who live life in a bold way.”
610 Anderson St.
Founded by Ben Dolphens (head brewer), Gavin Toth and Scott Davis, the name of this brewery nods to the bit of help from the universe needed when working with a process that involves wild yeast and bacteria. You could call it divine intervention. The founders also like the definition “unusually lovely” to fit the word “divine.”
As explained on their website, “with wood-fermented and aged wilds and sours, it’s a crazy combination of brewing process, ingredients, oak, time and some assistance from outside forces that all play a role in beers like this becoming greater than the sum of their parts…or, unusually lovely.”
3701 N. Davidson St., Suite 203@finickylady
When it opened in Plaza Midwood in 2017, Resident Culture got hype for bringing the first coolship to the Charlotte brewing scene. The open-air vessel is commonly used to cool unfermented beer down prior to its fermentation through exposure to open air.
But the brewery’s namesake is more subtle. Before the brewery opened, head brewer Chris Tropeano gathered natural items from the property like fruit, flowers, tree bark and soil. Wild yeasts were isolated from the samples, which they could then use with commercial yeasts to bring local flavors to their beers.
“It’s all part of the idea of having that resident culture, which is what the name is in reference to,” Tropeano told CharlotteFive. “That local yeast culture that’s unique to our neighborhood.”
2101 Central Ave.@residentculture on Instagram
Hyde emerged on the South End brewery scene as a brewing facility, café/restaurant in the form of Suffolk Punch, and fermentation laboratory in 2017, with owner, head brewer and namesake Dan Hyde, and his partners.
Before the opening, coffee partner Lindsey Pitman told CharlotteFive, “Hyde is kind of a group of ‘yes’ people …They liked the idea of creating a place where they wanted to hang out but the more we talked and the more we put ideas together, it became so much more. We want to have a restaurant that is a culinary cafe inspired by the trend of where food is going now — of molecular gastronomy and pairings.”
2911 Griffith St.@hydebrewing
When it opened, the brewery boasted a strong outdoors motif, with its core beers named after different trail markings. The founders, Craig Nunn and Sven Giersmann, started as two homebrewers who would get together on the porch to play music and drink beer, while dreaming of an exodus from the corporate world.
In the taproom, “Blue Blaze” refers to the brewery’s Altbier, but on the trail it typically leads to a watering hole.
528 South Turner Ave.
Owner and brewer Brad Ledbetter’s history is true to the nomadic name. He has moved around a good bit, and was homebrewing in Utah when he first considered opening a brewery. He also considered Colorado, Seattle and Portland before he and his wife decided to move to North Carolina, where he was born.
“I’ve lived in many places and I do like to travel and move and not get stuck in once place,” Ledbetter said.
He said March 18, 2018 that he’s looking at options for opening a secondary taproom and possibly moving the establishment entirely.
4402 A Stuart Andrew Blvd.
Photos: Charlotte Observer and CharlotteFive file