What's In Store

New brewery set for South End as Charlotte’s craft beer boom shows no signs of slowing

Lower Left Brewery will open this spring at 4528 Nations Crossing Road in Lower South End.
Lower Left Brewery will open this spring at 4528 Nations Crossing Road in Lower South End.

Charlotte’s craft beer boom is not showing any signs of slowing.

A new brewery called Lower Left Brewing Co. will open this spring in Lower South End, a booming part of town that’s seen several new businesses move in recently, from the Brewers at 4001 Yancey to Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen.

Co-owners Tim Curtis and Alex Shoenthal signed a lease this fall on a 2,272-square-foot former mechanics garage at 4528 Nations Crossing Road, which is around the corner from GoodRoad CiderWorks and Sugar Creek Brewing Company.

In an interview this week, Curtis and Shoenthal said construction will begin this month on the building, which has four large roll-up garage doors that will lead to an outdoor patio once the project is wrapped up. Lower Left will feature a seven-barrel custom-made brewhouse, as well as a 900-square foot taproom with seating for about 50 customers.

Shoenthal describes the interior of the space as “nice and quaint, with lots of personality.

“We wanted our place to feel like home,” said Shoenthal, former head brewer at Rivermen Brewing Company in Belmont.

Lower Left will have 18 rotating taps of “a mix of modern trendy beers” that will range from tropical IPAs to farmhouse ales, according to Shoenthal, who will act as head brewer. He added that Lower Left will also “cater to the dark beer crowd” with brews like stouts and porters.

“We’re filling a niche that we thought was lacking in that part of Charlotte,” Shoenthal said of the beer selection at Lower Left.

Curtis and Shoenthal chose Lower South End because of its growing popularity as a craft beer destination. Not long ago filled with run-down industrial buildings and warehouses, the neighborhood, walkable to the Blue Line light rail line, now has a half-dozen breweries, bars, cideries and distilleries, with even more businesses planned to come.

The brewery’s name is a nod to its geographic placement within South End, the two said.

Breweries have been opening rapidly all over Charlotte in recent years, especially near the light rail.

A brewery called Protagonist Clubhouse will open in the former NoDa Grocery spot on North Davidson this year, for instance. A new brewery called Armored Cow will also open soon near the JW Clay light rail stop near UNC Charlotte.

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But the city still has room for more breweries, Curtis and Shoenthal said.

“I’ve been met with nothing but goodwill from other brewers, and I see the (brewery) community as a whole being supportive,” Curtis said. “The more the merrier for all intents and purposes.”

Asheville, well-known as a craft beer destination, has a population about one-tenth that of Charlotte and has about 26 breweries, according to a recent analysis by Forbes. If Charlotte had that same saturation, there would be around 260 breweries here.

“The proverbial (brewery) bubble everyone talks about has yet to break,” Shoenthal said.

As the retail and sports business reporter for the Observer, Katie Peralta covers everything from grocery-store competition in Charlotte to tax breaks for pro sports teams. She is a Chicago native and graduate of the University of Notre Dame.