Fat Head’s Brewery plans to bring a brewpub to Charlotte’s South End neighborhood.
While the brewery has not yet decided on a location, they hope to open a Charlotte facility in 2018. The Fat Head’s brand began life in Fat Head’s Saloon in Pittsburgh in 1992. Later, founder Glenn Benigni partnered with Cole to bring a brewpub to Cleveland in 2009, then a production brewery in Middleburg Heights, Ohio in 2012. They opened a brewpub in Portland in 2014.
The move to Portland was an unconventional one, according to Matt Cole, a brewmaster and partner with Fat Head’s. Despite this, he said, the Portland brewpub has thrived in one of the nation’s most competitive beer markets. He thinks the same can be true in Charlotte, which despite a growing craft beer scene has only two true brewpubs (Rock Bottom and Heist Brewery).
“We definitely would like to join the craft brew scene there,” Cole said. “We’ve visited dozens of times and met a lot of the brewers. We were very impressed with the market on the whole.”
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Fat Head’s has no immediate plans to distribute its packaged beers in North Carolina, though that could change. Their primary focus will be on the food prepared in the kitchen and the beers brewed on what will likely be a 10-barrel brewhouse.
“It’s the ability to have the brewery visually in front of you to take in the sights and the smells,” Cole said. “That’s the ultimate to me. We run a pretty good sized packaging brewery and it’s not nearly as sexy as running a brewpub. That’s where we can really shine.”
While the food menu will likely resemble the other Fat Head’s locations (think wings, burgers, sandwiches, salads and more), the beer selection will be ever-changing.
“We try not to just brew the same beers,” said Cole. “Portland has a whole repertoire of beers that are theirs. They named them, they brewed them. The same thing will happen in Charlotte. There will be a slew of beers that are indigenous to that location. That’s what keeps our brewers creative.”
Several of the brewery’s beers have garnered medals at the Great American Beer Festival and other competitions, and Fat Head’s is particularly well known for its hop-forward beers like Head Hunter IPA and Hop JuJu Imperial IPA.
Why is the brewery bringing its beers to Charlotte? Cole notes that the Charlotte metro area is filled with transplants from Ohio and Pennsylvania, many of whom are already familiar with their beer. Some have even asked Cole when they could get the brewery’s beer here in Charlotte.
His answer: “We are committed to Charlotte. That is going to happen.”
Dunkel, The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery
$10.99 for a six-pack
The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s winter seasonal returns to the brewery Friday, with bottles landing on shelves across Charlotte next week. Though dark in color, Dunkel is a medium-bodied lager with subtle notes of coffee, chocolate, and dark bread derived only from the use of specialty malts. The beer goes on tap at the brewery (4150 Yancey Road) at 11 a.m., and live music starts at 6 p.m.