It’s a Friday afternoon. It’s summer. All your friends want to hit up a Charlotte brewery, lounge outside and soak in the sun while drinking a craft beer. One problem: You don’t like beer. Or you don’t like craft beer, just (insert domestic brewer) Light.
I get it. The craft beer scene can be intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be.
Earlier this week I met with Daniel Hartis at Brawley’s Beverage on Park Road. Hartis runs CharlotteBeer.com and wrote two books about Charlotte and NC/SC beer, so he knows a little bit about the local beer scene.
Hartis came up with seven very different styles of local beer for you to try if you’re new to craft beer.
His advice to newbies: Throw out your preconceived notions of what beer tastes like and try many different styles. You may think you only like Miller Lite then fall in love with a black IPA.
To test his picks, I brought along Madysan Foltz, who doesn’t really drink beer, and Sara Carson, who only likes Bud Light and Bud Light Platinum.
With their help, I compiled the CharlotteFive Beginner’s Guide to Charlotte Craft Beer.
Here we go:
(1) If you want the craft beer version of Bud/Miller/Coors.
– Description: It’s a lighter style with some fruity notes. It’s a great pool beer, especially because it comes in cans.
– Sara: “Isn’t bad. Tastes like what I consider normal.”
– Madysan: “A grown up Bud Light. I can actually drink it and not feel like I am surrounded by sweaty frat boys.”
– Corey: “Ahhhh.”
(2) If you like spicy Mexican food.
– Description: This is the only beer Birdsong has canned. It has a strong jalapeño flavor, but Birdsong takes out the seeds during the brewing process so it’s not spicy.
– Sara: “Very different … I like it. Not too strong at all.”
– Madysan: It’s like “Mexican food in a cup. … (But) I have no desire to drink my burrito.”
– Corey: “Yes.”
(3) If you like Sam Adams or Yuengling.
– Description: It’s got a crisp, clean lager flavor. OMB sticks to the traditional German style using only natural ingredients. It’s an amber ale, a style that has a lot in common with Sam Adams and Yuengling.
– Madysan: “Easy drinking.”
– Sara: “Good. Not too strong. It looks scary (referring to the darker color).”
– Corey: “Mmmm.”
(4) If you like coffee.
– Description: This is a breakfast porter, with a distinct coffee and chocolate flavor. (We had the bourbon barrel aged variety, but the bourbon flavor wasn’t too strong.)
– Madysan: “Tastes like coffee. … (Good for) sipping, not a big gulp.”
– Sara: “I could definitely taste the coffee, and I’m not a coffee fan.”
– Corey: “Delicious.”
(5) If you like wine.
– Description: This is a sour made by Cornelius’ D9. And it’s definitely sour. Take everything you think you know about how beer can taste and throw it out the window.
– Sara: “It is literally sour. I like drinking this, though, because it’s not like beer.”
– Madysan: “It’s like a Warhead! I love this. It tastes like childhood in a cup.”
– Corey: “Ew.” (Yep, this is the only one I didn’t like. Sara and Madysan loved it.)
(6) If you like mojitos.
– Description: This is a summer seasonal from NoDa. It’s a wheat beer with mint and lime.
– Sara: “Perfect pool beer.”
– Madysan: “Full and fresh.”
– Corey: “I could drink more of this.”
(7) If you like to dive head-first into the deep end.
– Description: This India Pale Ale is very hoppy. The description on the website says “Hops in your face.” And in 2014 it won the World Beer Cup gold medal for American-style IPAs, which is a pretty big deal.
– Sara: “It smells like marijuana. I can feel the flavor in the back of my throat.” (That wasn’t a good thing. See above, left.)
– Madysan: “It’s like someone took fresh grass clippings, liquefied them in a blender and gave it to me.” (Also not a good thing.)
– Corey: “YUM.”
Corey Inscoe @CoreyInscoe