Charlotte craft beer brewer: So much has changed, so fast
March has been a big month for beer anniversaries.
On the heels of The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and Brawley’s Black and Blue turning 10, Charlotte Craft Beer Week also turns a decade old this month. This year, the beer week — which runs Friday through Sunday, April 7 — begins and ends with two philanthropic events.
“It’s been great to see the growth of the craft beer scene in Charlotte over the past 10 years,” says organizer Jason Reiner, who has been involved with the week since its inception. “This year we have a good mix of new and returning events. The kickoff is one everyone is getting behind to support Matt McKenzie.”
McKenzie, who writes about the local beer scene for Charlotte magazine, was recently diagnosed with sinus cancer. The kickoff party on Friday will raise funds to help him with his medical bills as he goes through treatment. Starting at 6 p.m., more than 20 area breweries and cideries will be pouring a variety of limited or one-off beers at The Barrel Room at Triple C (2832 Griffith St.). Tickets, which are $10 and include a raffle ticket and a beer ticket, can be purchased at Triple C Brewing’s website or at the door. After that, additional beers and raffle tickets can be purchased for $5 each. The band Four Flat Tires will play from 6-9 p.m.
This year’s closing event has an equally altruistic aim. Whales for Wishes, now in its fifth year, will be held at Resident Culture Brewing Co. (2101 Central Ave.) from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 7. Through the bottle share, rare beer raffle and silent auction, the annual event raises funds for Make-A-Wish Central and Western North Carolina. Last year, the event raised more than $25,000. This year, the organizers have doubled that goal and hope to raise $50,000, enough to grant more than eight wishes (the average cost of a wish is $6,000). Tickets are $25 (or $35 with a T-shirt) and get you entry into the event, as well as five raffle tickets and access to the rare beer auction. You can purchase tickets or bid on the auction at www.whalesforwishes.com.
Those two worthy events bookend the week, but organizer Jason Reiner — with help from NoDa Brewing Co.’s Lindsay Sprick and Birdsong Brewing Co.’s Jenny Sassman, along with many other breweries, bars and restaurants — has put together a great list of events in between. The full list can be found at www.charlottecraftbeerweek.org, but below are a few you won’t want to miss.
ChuckFest at Common Market
12-5 p.m. Saturday.
Common Market will celebrate its return to SouthEnd with ChuckFest, an event that features a craft beer tasting as well as live music, raffles, a breakdance battle and whole-hog barbecue. Tickets for the tasting are $10 to sample from 1-5 p.m. or $15 for a VIP tasting from 12-1 p.m. (these must be purchased in advance, so call ahead first).
The Battle for Charlotte
5-10 p.m. Wednesday.
In a new spin on its Battle of the Brews events, Carolina Beer Temple in Ayrsley will pit more than 20 of Charlotte’s brewers against each other in a battle for a year-long spot on the bar’s taplist. Representatives from most of the breweries will be on hand, and the brewery to kick its keg first will be the winner (and receive a trophy in addition to securing their spot for the next year). The Dumpling Lady food truck will be parked outside.
Rua-Barrel-Aged Beers at The Broken Spoke
6-10 p.m. next Thursday.
Great Wagon Road Distilling Co. has always had a tie to the local beer scene, as it contracts with its neighbors at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery to produce the mash for its award-winning Rua, a single malt whiskey. For the second year in a row, though, it’ll take things to the next level at The Broken Spoke by pouring a variety of local beers and ciders that have all been aged in barrels that once held Rua. The event is a good experience to taste firsthand how barrel-aging can have on different styles of beer.
Firkin Friday at Pilot Brewing
4-10 p.m. Friday, April 5.
There are only a handful of places around town to consistently offer beer pulled from a cask, and Pilot Brewing is one of them. Jason Reiner, the aforementioned organizer of the beer week, worked with the crew at Pilot to brew an American porter. Outside, the No Forks Given food truck will be serving Cuban-style food from 2-8 p.m.
Lenny Boy’s 7th Year Shakedown
11 a.m.-midnight Saturday, April 6.
Lenny Boy Brewing isn’t quite 10, but it’s not far behind the beer week. The maker of beer and kombucha will celebrate anniversary No. 7 with a day-long party filled with live music, food trucks and new beers and kombuchas. Lenny Boy will release a Passion Fruit Gose and Name Drop, a guava IPA, on draft and in cans.