It’s officially T-shirt weather. This means that you should be doing two things: First, well, wearing a T-shirt, and second, finding a seat in the sun with a pint of North Carolina craft beer. Lucky for you, Charlotte is packed with patios perfect for pairing your favorite brew with fresh air. So, stock up on the sunscreen because we’ve found the city’s top 10 decks, terraces and beer gardens for a boozy afternoon outside.
Olde Mecklenburg Brewery
It doesn’t take a beer pro to know that this German beer hall-inspired microbrewery is one of the hottest spots in town for indulging in a cold one. Its beers are on tap in seemingly every Charlotte restaurant (we’re looking at you Copper Amber Ale) and it recently took home the prize for the country’s best brewery tour. Hit the tour, but make sure to save time to soak in the sun in its family-friendly biergarten. 4150 Yancey Road. 704-525-5644; www.oldemeckbrew.com.
Best Spring Beer Bet: Fruh Bock is a golden bock lager with notes of fruit and citrus.
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Pump House Biergarten
Ready to raise a glass to Mother Nature? In addition to its River’s Edge Bar and Grille and various bars, the Whitewater Center now offers a biergarten on an island in the middle of the whitewater. And with up to 60 beers on tap, there’s no shortage of choices for what to sip as you watch rafters and kayakers paddle past. 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy. 704-391-3900; www.usnwc.org.
Best Spring Beer Bet: Triple C Brewing Co.’s Golden Boy is a refreshing blonde ale perfect for post-rafting toasts.
Mac’s Speed Shop
Come for the barbecue, stay for the beer. And the picnic tables. And the live music. At the original South Boulevard location of this biker bar-meets-family friendly barbecue joint you’ll find literally hundreds of beer options. Snag a seat at one of the roadside picnic tables and pair your brew with a plate of that aforementioned ’cue for the ultimate Carolina warm weather meal. 2511 South Blvd. 704-522-6227; www.macspeedshop.com.
Best Spring Beer Bet: Catawba Brewing Company crafted Mac’s Pale Ale, a classic pale ale featuring citrusy hops, just for the group’s restaurants.
JJ’s Red Hots
Mouthwatering hotdogs piled high with tasty toppings? Check. Rotating taps of craft beers? Check. A rooftop deck ideal for sitting in the sun while you enjoy both? Check. Yes, we’ve actually discovered heaven on earth and it’s in a small hot dog joint on East Boulevard. Keep an eye on the restaurant’s social media page for its famed “dog of the week,“ often paired with a local beer. 1514 East Blvd. 980-225-8880; www.jjsredhots.com.
Best Spring Beer Bet: Deep River Brewing Co.’s Double D’s Watermelon Lager is a crisp golden lager infused with watermelon flavor.
It’s one of the city’s newer breweries, but this South End spot’s 28 rotating taps and large beer garden have made it a fast favorite. One of the best times to enjoy the outdoor area is on warm evenings when you can chow down on food truck fare and listen to live music under the deck’s white string lights. 2161 Hawkins St. 704-910-3821; www.sycamorebrew.com.
Best Spring Beer Bet: The brewery’s Southern Girl Blonde Ale is a full-bodied ale brewed with an heirloom Scottish barley.
VBGB Beer Hall and Garden
Inside this NC Music Factory spot you can keep your brew cool on the frost rail of the U-shaped bar. But then you’re missing all the fun of the huge beer garden, which includes cornhole, ping-pong, and various other games. The 30 taps change every week and beer sizes can range from a 12-ounce pour to a pitcher perfect for sharing with a group at one of the garden’s long tables. 920 Hamilton St. 704-333-4111; www.vbgbuptown.com.
Best Spring Beer Bet: All of Ass Clown Brewing Company’s beers have a creative flair, but the Orange IPA made with orange peel and honey is easy sipping on a warm day.
It already served beer in mason jars and offered one of the city’s best skyline views. Just when you thought this Uptown baseball stadium couldn’t get any cooler this season (which begins Friday) you’ll find six additional Charlotte breweries on tap at the new beer garden. How’s that for hitting it out of the park? 324 S. Mint St. 704-274-8300; www.charlotteknights.com.
Best Spring Beer Bet: NoDa Brewing Company’s Jam Session is a pale ale with pine and citrus flavors.
Common Market South End
If you didn’t already know about it, you might miss this eclectic store’s sun-dappled patio. Tucked amid older South End buildings, the outdoor space is as funky and fun as the market’s interior. Choose from one of the always-impressive offerings on tap or grab a bottle from the fridge to pour outdoors. 1515 S. Tryon St. 704-332-7782; www.commonmarketisgood.com.
Best Spring Beer Bet: Wicked Weed’s Saison XL is a farmhouse ale with enough of an edge to fit in at this hip spot.
The Pizza Peel & Tap Room, Plaza Midwood
Maybe it’s the location smack in the middle of Plaza Midwood’s pedestrian hub. Or perhaps it’s the corner yard consistently filled with games like corn hole and disc golf. Or it could be dog-friendly picnic table area. Whatever the case, it’d be hard to find a patio more welcoming than the one at this popular pizza joint. And with 30 craft beers on tap, fun in the sun just got even easier. 1600 Central Ave. 704-790-7335; www.tapandpeel.com.
Best Spring Beer Bet: Asheville Brewing’s Backstage Betty Blonde is a light ale with a hint of citrus sweetness.
Duckworth’s Grill and Taphouse, Ballantyne
Want the cushy version of the outdoor experience? On the covered patio of this beer destination’s South Charlotte outpost, you’ll find soft seats and flat screens for watching the game in the shade. Order from one of the city’s best beer lists and settle in for a day in the shade. 14015 Conlan Cir. 704-752-7284; www.duckworthsgrillandbar.com.
Best Spring Beer Bet: Birdsong Brewing Co.’s Doin’ Thyme Witbier is a Belgian seasonal that’s infused with lemon thyme and coriander.