The first Charlotte Craft Beer Week was held back in 2010, before all but one of the city’s local breweries had opened their doors. As more breweries, bars and bottle shops opened in the Queen City, the number of events held during the week rose as well.
But look at the calendar for the 2016 CCBW, which runs from Friday, March 11 to Sunday, March 20, and you might not see as many events as the week boasted in years past. That’s by design, said CCBW organizer Jason Reiner.
“In the past, we’ve always focused on the quantity of the events,” said Reiner. “I’m not a numbers guy, per se. I don’t care if we have 100 different events. I’d rather have 15 awesome events that everybody loves.”
The beer week was started by Darrin Pikarsky, who also founded The Charlotte Beer Club in 2008. Reiner was the beer club’s first member, helping Pikarsky over the years with events for both the club and beer week. Pikarsky recently moved to Florida, and so Reiner has taken on a more active role in planning the beer week.
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“I’m trying to make it more Charlotte-centric,” said Reiner. “The Charlotte market has grown. We have a lot more breweries, beer shops and Charlotte-based businesses. It is Charlotte Craft Beer Week, after all.”
This year, there will be a trio of “#CLTBEER Tap Takeovers” in which bars will tap a large lineup of beers brewed locally. Brewers and owners from some of these breweries will be on hand at these events to talk about the beer, according to Reiner.
Vintner Wine Market has held a tap takeover for several years during CCBW, and will once again dedicate their taps to Charlotte breweries at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15. Also hosting tap takeovers this year will be the Flying Saucer at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 14, and Queen City Q at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16.
The big kickoff for the week is actually just over the border in Fort Mill, where this Saturday Grapevine Wine will host their annual Beertopia festival. This event has usually marked the start of the beer week, but if you don’t have tickets (it’s sold out) you have plenty of other options. On Friday at 6 p.m., The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery will host a Craft Freedom Launch Party. Several breweries will be pouring at the event, which aims to educate the public on a self-distribution limit that breweries like OMB and NoDa Brewing want to see raised.
There are new events like beer brunches, bar crawls and special cask tappings, too, but some of the week’s most notable events are the ones that have taken place for years. Every year, Salud Beer Shop taps special beers from Founders Brewing, and they will do the same this Tuesday, March 15.
The Common Market in Plaza Midwood on Wednesday will once again play host to Rumble in the Alley, in which 15+ breweries will go head-to-head in a blind tasting. The South End Common Market will host Freakfest for the last time at that location, bringing in lots of local beers as well as a “freak show.”
For the sixth year in a row, Duckworth’s Grill and Taphouse will hold a cask festival at the Park Road location. Tickets, which are $25 and get you six-ounce pours from eight breweries, can be purchased by calling 704-527-5783.
The closer of CCBW will be the South End Spring Fling, held at the new Bulldog Beer and Wine location. Tickets are $10 and include two beers, live music, a raffle ticket and more.
For more information on these events and the full CCBW lineup, visit www.charlottecraftbeerweek.org/.
Event of the Week
Früh Bock, The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery
$10.99 for a six-pack
Summer has lighter wheat beers, fall has Oktoberfests and pumpkin beers, and winter has hearty stouts and spiced holiday ales. But what about spring? While it isn’t as well-known as a seasonal beer, we do have the Maibock. These strong lagers were traditionally brewed for the spring season, and Charlotte has a great example of the style in The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s Früh Bock (Früh translates to “early,” and Frühling means spring). The 6 percent lager offers up notes of sweet, lightly-toasted bread, with a crisp finish that will leave you wanting more.