Walk into a brewery and look for a taplist, and you’re likely to find one scrawled behind the bar in chalk. That’s true at Birdsong Brewing in NoDa, but for the past few years some of its finest chalk work has been hidden in the back, far from the wandering eyes of patrons enjoying beers and complimentary peanuts.
Three years ago, the staffers at Birdsong slathered chalkboard paint all over the outside of their walk-in cooler that housed kegs. After that dried, they sketched gridlines across and proceeded to fill in the resulting rectangles – in blue, yellow, white, orange and pink – with the names of their accounts. When a new bar or restaurant started carrying Birdsong’s beer, its name was added.
Until about a year and a half ago. Birdsong had grown at such a rapid pace, they were struggling to keep up with demand, despite bringing in additional fermenting tanks. In order to keep existing customers stocked with popular beers like Higher Ground IPA and Jalapeño Pale Ale, they had to stop taking on new accounts.
The solution wasn’t as simple as bringing in more tanks; there was no more space. So last May, the owners of the brewery announced they would move operations to a much larger facility at 1016 N. Davidson St., about a mile from its current home.
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Birdsong will unveil this new brewery and taproom to the public with a grand opening 1-11 p.m. April 4.
At more than 17,000 square feet, the space dwarfs the old location and boasts a new 30-barrel brewhouse that has been operational for a few weeks now. A canning line sits quietly awaiting the 16-ounce cans needed to package the brewery’s Jalapeño Pale Ale (expect those later this spring).
New, much larger tanks are bubbling with fresh beer for the grand opening. And Birdsong will also pull out some barrel-aged beers for its first day in the space. On tap will be both red wine and bourbon barrel-aged versions of its MexiCali Stout, plus bourbon barrel-aged St. Tuber Abbey Ale and many other aged treats.
The new taproom is decidedly rustic, the bar a sweeping crescent of rich wood atop rusted metal. Look at that metal closely and you’ll spy USB outlets, handy to anyone in need of a quick phone charge. The tables in front of the bar – sitting upon legs fashioned out of trees – match its semicircular shape.
The finest handiwork, though, might not be the bar but what’s just behind it: that old walk-in cooler, freshly painted, keeping cool the kegs that supply the 18 taps.
After working on the space for the better part of the last year, the crew at Birdsong is finally ready to chalk up a few more names on that wall.
Sip of the Week
Bird on a Wire, Birdsong Brewing (Charlotte) and Hi-Wire Brewing (Asheville)
$8.99 for a 22-ounce bomber
Last month, Birdsong Brewing’s Conor Robinson visited Hi-Wire Brewing in Asheville to brew Bird on a Wire, a collaboration between the two breweries. The beer is a Scotch-style ale (also known as a Wee Heavy) brewed with peated malt, which contributes an earthy smokiness not uncommon in some Scotch whisky. The smoke is not overdone or harsh, but rather rounded and balanced by the sweet, caramel malt profile. Find this one at Birdsong’s brewery or in better beer stores.