Just this week, it was announced that Victory Brewing and Southern Tier Brewing Co. would build a shared production brewery in Charlotte.
I’d heard rumors of this for weeks, even before those two breweries announced they were uniting under a new holding company. Credit to Jonathan Wells for digging deep and breaking the news this past Tuesday.
Before his post went up, Jonathan and I talked about the news while at Brawley’s Black and Blue (or rather, shouted about it as best we could amid the excellent musical stylings of Strung Like A Horse). He told me about the many jobs the two breweries were bringing to Charlotte, and how they were building a true production brewery and not just a brewpub (which is the model they’re taking in Pittsburgh).
And there is no doubt these breweries will brew great beer in Charlotte, as they have both proven with their beers to this point. But will it be Charlotte beer? Or, as we say on the Interwebs, #cltbeer?
— Jonathan Wells (@AllTheWells) March 8, 2016
Here’s where things get philosophical. After all, what is #cltbeer, exactly? Is it merely beer made in the confines of Charlotte’s city limits?
If we’re talking only about geography, then the Blue Moon and Miller Lite made in Eden would be considered North Carolina beer. Of course, that probably doesn’t jive with many who take pride in drinking locally.
But whether it’s MillerCoors or Sierra Nevada or New Belgium or Oskar Blues (or maybe even Deschutes), you cannot deny that these breweries bring a lot to their communities. They create jobs, grow the local economy, provide taprooms of their own and continue to put North Carolina on the map as the state of Southern beer (to borrow the tagline of the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild).
North Carolina is lucky that proven breweries like Victory Brewing Co. and Southern Tier Brewing Co. see something in our local scene and want to be a part of the community.
And that’s where I think the distinction lies. Will Victory and Southern Tier be part of the #cltbeer scene? I’d say yes. Will they actually make #cltbeer? I’m not sure on that one.
I’d say the same if The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery moved to Victory Brewing’s Pennsylvania, or if NoDa Brewing built in Southern Tier Brewing Co.’s New York.
Maybe this is much ado about nothing. After all, neither Victory Brewing nor Southern Tier claimed to be brewing #cltbeer. Other brewers in town sound excited that these two are coming to Charlotte, and I have no doubt Victory and Southern Tier will find their place here.
But as local and regional breweries continue to expand outside of their birthplace and into new markets, I do think it’s worth examining what we talk about when we talk about local beer.