Whether you are a newcomer to the Queen City or that rare native Charlottean, you have probably heard this is a city that relishes its beer.
Maybe you’ve heard about The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, its German-style beers as authentic as the brewery’s sprawling 8.5-acre beer garden. Or perhaps you’ve heard about NoDa Brewing and its Hop Drop ‘n Roll IPA, which took gold over 223 other American IPAs in last year’s World Beer Cup.
Those are just two examples. With 11 local breweries inside the city limits, there is plenty to explore in Charlotte.
But there’s good beer outside the city, too – which should be welcome news if you commute in from the suburbs, as so many do. Here are a few breweries that may be closer to home for some commuters, or worth a trip for residents of Charlotte proper.
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Ass Clown Brewing
10620 Bailey Road, Cornelius. www.assclownbrewery.com
With 32 taps, Ass Clown offers more unique beers in its taproom than any other Charlotte-area brewery. Most of these beers have a culinary bent to them, like the Bacon Oyster Stout or Vanilla Bean Chocolate Brown. With its horn-honking tap handles and a clown mannequin, this brewery in an office park is delightfully out of place.
D9 Brewing Co.
11138 Treynorth Drive, Cornelius. www.d9brewing.com
D9 Brewing Co. got its start just a few doors down from Ass Clown, but moved to a much larger facility in September 2014. There it brews “fanatical ales” like Battle Hymn Black IPA and Viking Fraoch, the latter of which is the only year-round sour beer from a Charlotte-area brewery.
19507 W. Catawba Ave., Cornelius. www.baynebrewingcompany.com
Bayne Brewing’s two-barrel brewhouse sits behind the taproom’s bar. Above these small kettles, scrawled on a square of chalkboard paint, are beers like the brewery’s Rye IPA and Coffee Porter. If you want to earn those beers, check out the brewery’s yoga, pilates and run club events.
16432 Old Statesville Road, Huntersville. www.primalbrewery.com
This Huntersville brewery cycles through a variety of styles, ensuring a beer for all seasons. When it’s warm, seek shade beneath the umbrella-topped picnic tables out front and have a pint of Lawn Boy, a refreshing light lager. When the weather turns cool, park yourself by the fireplace with a dark Obsidian Schwarzbier.
Lake Norman Brewing Co.
159 Barley Park Lane, Mooresville. www.lakenormanbrewingcompany.com
From its boat-motor tap handles to the hand-painted map of Lake Norman on the bar, this is a brewery that embraces its proximity to the water. That plays out in many of the beer names as well, such as Man Overboard IPA and Bass Ackwards Brown Ale. Like many of these suburban breweries, Lake Norman Brewing Co. brews on a small scale (it will soon install a larger brewhouse to keep up with demand).
Rivermen Brewing Co.
1500 River Drive, Belmont. www.rivermenbrewingcompany.com
Right on the banks of the Catawba River inside Belmont’s Riverside Complex is Rivermen Brewing Co., which opened in April. The small brewery and taproom features five taps that include beers such as Foundation Black IPA and Precipitation Scotch Ale, though they plan to add more taps soon.
Ole Dallas Brewery
Though the production-only Ole Dallas Brewery does not yet have a taproom, you can find its beers around the Dallas area in Gaston County. Its beer was available during Gastonia Grizzlies baseball games, but with that season over you might look for beers like Wildcat Wit at the Dallas Pub or Cross Rhodes Tavern.
Barking Duck Brewing Co.
8037-C Fairview Road, Mint Hill. www.barkingduckbrew.com
In a small one-bay garage space behind a Food Lion in Mint Hill, you’ll find Barking Duck Brewing. At this nanobrewery, you’ll find beers such as Banamber, an amber ale fermented with a Belgian yeast that contributes a banana quality, and Chinese Chicken, a pale ale brewed with sriracha hot sauce.
Full Spectrum Brewing Co.
2168 Carolina Place Drive, Fort Mill, S.C. www.fullspectrumbrewingco.com.
Full Spectrum is one of the new kids on the block, having recently held its grand opening. Take exit 85 off I-77 and pull into a nondescript industrial park to find this nanobrewery and taproom, the interior of which is filled with diamond plating underneath and behind the bar. As its name suggests, the staff will be brewing a full spectrum of styles.
Legal Remedy Brewing Co.
129 Oakland Ave., Rock Hill, S.C. www.legalremedybrewingco.com.
With names like All Rise Ale and Alibi Pale Ale, can you tell that one of this brewery’s founders has a legal background? Head to this new Rock Hill brewery for its year-round “usual suspects” or seasonal beers.
Other breweries coming soon to Charlotte’s suburbs: High Branch Brewing and Cabarrus Brewing Co. (Concord) and The Dreamweaver’s Brewery (Waxhaw).
Daniel is a freelance writer and digital manager at All About Beer Magazine.