Charlotte Craft Beer Week returns to the Queen City with a variety of beer events running from Friday through April 9.
The beer week has continued to evolve during its eight-year history. While there are a number of events around town, this year’s focus is on the breweries.
“We’re all in with the Charlotte breweries,” said organizer Jason Reiner, who notes that The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery was the only local brewery when the week first started in 2010. “We were able to really develop Charlotte Craft Beer Week around what they want.”
That meant not only focusing on the breweries themselves for many of the events, but also shifting the week back from its usual mid-March timeline to coincide with N.C. Beer Month in April.
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“We wanted to make Charlotte a big thing for N.C. Beer Month this year,” said Reiner.
Reiner worked closely with brewery owners, brewers and sales representatives in planning this year’s events, which can be found at www.charlottecraftbeerweek.org. As with every year, there is a good mix of staples and brand-new events. Here are just a few ways to celebrate Charlotte Craft Beer Week this year.
Kick Off With Brewery Pairings: This year, the week kicks off with a series of events in which breweries were paired together at random and asked to bring some core beers as well as more limited offerings. These take place at different bars throughout Charlotte, so find your favorite pair of breweries and show up to try new and old favorites.
Crawl Through Uptown: While Reiner notes there are several bar crawls in uptown Charlotte, he wanted to start one with more of a craft focus. At noon this Sunday, the inaugural #CLTbeer Uptown Craft Crawl will wind its way through 11 different bars. Start at the 7th Street Market and head to Draught, or go the other way around. Free T-shirts and pint glasses are available while they last.
Tap Takeovers: From next Monday through next Wednesday, several bars will fill their taps almost entirely with local beers. These are usually a great way to sample a range of different beers – many of them one-offs or limited in nature – from several of Charlotte’s breweries in a single spot. And in many cases, brewery employees will be in attendance to talk shop.
Rumble in the Alley: A longtime favorite for many each year, this event pits regional brewers against one another in the alley of Common Market in Plaza Midwood. Beers are $5 each or $30 for unlimited pours, and attendees can vote on their favorites. In attendance will be Burial Beer Co., D9 Brewing Co. (last year’s champion), Granite Falls Brewing Co., Holy City Brewing, Legal Remedy Brewing, Preyer Brewing Co., Resident Culture Brewing and Blending, Wooden Robot Brewery and more.
Craft Freedom Festival: You may have read during the last year of the Craft Freedom initiative, which aims to raise the amount of beer breweries in the state can self-distribute. Breweries like The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and NoDa Brewing Co. are bumping up against that 25,000-barrel limit, however they are joined by many small brewers across the state in their efforts. On April 7, many of these breweries will pour at the Craft Freedom Festival, held from 6-9 p.m. at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. Tickets are $30 and allow you to fill your commemorative glass with samples from 11 N.C. breweries (and newly-opened GoodRoad CiderWorks). Proceeds benefit Charlotte Craft Beer Week and Craft Freedom.
Closing Time: Details are still coming together for the closing event at Brawley’s Beverage on April 9, but expect the longtime Charlotte beer institution to be pouring lots of special locally-brewed beers from the bar’s 24 taps. A dollar from every pint sold will go to Doctors Without Borders.