Charlotte Beercation: A Charlotte Breweries Guide
How would I design my perfect weekend in Charlotte? The answer is easy – with a tour of Charlotte breweries!
I’m not the only one who thinks Charlotte breweries are awesome. Fortune recently heralded the Queen City’s craft beer scene in an article. “Charlotte, N.C. isn’t a place that often springs to mind for craft beer lovers, but it’s a mistake to overlook it.”
Charlotte’s craft beer scene is exploding with well over 30 breweries in the region and many more in the works. Plus, the Queen City has many other surprising attractions. The city really has something for everyone that it’s almost impossible to squeeze it all into one weekend.
Thus, I boiled the best of Charlotte breweries, along with plenty of extras, into this guide to help you experience the best that the Queen City has to offer.
Downloadable a free PDF of my Charlotte Breweries Guide!
A Beer Crawl in Charlotte’s Historic NoDa Neighborhood
Your introduction to Charlotte breweries begins with a brewery crawl in historic NoDa– Charlotte’s hipster neighborhood. Due to the explosive growth of NoDa breweries, many have moved to the fringe of the neighborhood to allow for increased brewing capacity.
Your first stop as you approach NoDa is Birdsong Brewery. Order a pint of Jalapeño Pale Ale, and enjoy the local art that adorns the walls, most of which were painted by neighborhood artists. As Birdsong doesn’t have TVs, it’s a great place to strike up a conversation with Charlotte residents and learn more about what makes the neighborhood and city tick.
Next, head over to NoDa Brewing. The brewery’s claim to fame is their Hop Drop and Roll IPA, which won gold in the 2014 World Beer Cup for American-style IPAs. Don’t stop with Hop Drop though as NoDa Brewing brews plenty of worthy beers like Woodie and Wilcox (a west coast style IPA) and Coco Loco Porter. Or, if you’re there during the spring, Hop Cakes Double IPA. Now that I think of it, you might as well just order a flight.
The beer journey continues to Free Range Brewing. Free Range is making a name for themselves with farmhouse ales and sours, often incorporating local fruits and vegetables. Once again, I recommend ordering a flight as there are too many deliciously creative libations on the menu to pick a favorite.
Dinner and More Beer!
From Free Range, the brewery crawl takes you into the pedestrian friendly streets of central NoDa for dinner. Heist Brewery is one of three craft breweries in town that has a kitchen, and the chef there does serve up delicious seasonally driven small plates. However, there are plenty of beer forward restaurants in the neighborhood that are also worthy of your consideration.
Growlers Pourhouse, which boasts a menu featuring “beer food” (think raw oysters, housemade sausages, and poutine), comes to mind as a personal favorite. Growlers also offers an eclectic beer menu featuring hard to find regional craft beers. Be sure to ask which cask ale is pouring from the 1936 Gaskell & Chambers beer engine.
While you’re in NoDa, spend some time strolling the neighborhood streets for a fun look at local color. NoDa is home to one of the city’s largest clustering of art galleries, boutiques, and tattoo shops. It’s like Brooklyn, but on a much less intimidating scale and with a dollop of Southern hospitality.
Wrap up your night at Salud Bottle Shop. Like Growlers, Salud offers a glimpse into regional beer beyond Charlotte. They also have their own onsite nano brewery. Choose from one of the rare beers they have on draft, a house brewed libation, or buy a bottle to consumer on premise or back at the hotel.
Check out Uptown Charlotte
Work off the that hangover with a greasy spoon breakfast from Green’s Lunch. Then, start the day by exploring Charlotte’s downtown (Uptown as the locals call it). Most visitors remark how clean, safe, and accessible Uptown is.
Depending on your interest level, there are three routes you can choose:
- Art Lovers – A tour of the Levine Center for the Arts
- Sports Fans – A visit to the NASCAR Hall of Fame
- History Buffs – A walking tour of Uptown using Charlotte’s Got a Lot’s Walking Map
Drink Your Way through Charlotte’s South End
The largest cluster of Charlotte breweries is in South End. Most of the breweries are walkable, but some will require an inexpensive Uber ride.
The South End brewery crawl begins at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery for lunch. OMB is where the modern era of craft brewing in Charlotte began. Up until they opened the doors in 2009, Charlotte didn’t have a single brewery. Today, well, you’re reading about what OMB has done for the craft beer industry in Charlotte. OMB has a huge beer garden to spend a couple of hours in enjoying lunch, German lagers, and the Carolina sunshine.
Around the corner from OMB, is Sugar Creek Brewery. Not only does Sugar Creek brew some delicious Belgium ales, they’re also in OMBs original location. A visit is a step back in Charlotte brewery history. Also near OMB and Sugar Creek is Great Wagon Road Distilling for those looking for a beer break. Great Wagon Road distills vodka, whiskey, and moonshine. It has a fun bar to sample their product in.
The beer crawl then continues north through the South End neighborhood. Take an Uber ride to Triple C Brewing (well-crafted beers with a fun neighborhood environment) where you’ll then walk north towards Unknown Brewing (drink something that pushes the limits of beer). In between are plenty of breweries: Lenny Boy Brewing (awesome organic ales and sours), Sycamore Brewing (a fun patio), and Wooden Robot Brewery (farmhouse ales with a stellar view of Uptown).
Finish the night at Legion Brewing in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood. It will involve an Uber ride, but their innovative brews are worth the short drive though.
Dinner in South End
There are several options for dinner in South End. Most of the Charlotte breweries host food trucks if you don’t want to depart from the brewery trail for a meal. If you need a break from the brewery scene, The Liberty, Charlotte’s first gastropub, serves upscale food alongside a well-planned craft beer menu.
If you’re craving some Carolina BBQ instead, Sauceman’s is a tasty option. The beer menu is rather limited with only six taps. Each pours only local beers though.
A Morning Whitewater Adventure
For breakfast, I recommend a quick bite to eat from Amelie’s Uptown. The French bakery is a local favorite serving decadent pastries and croissants alongside ethically sourced, locally roasted coffee.
Then, since North Carolina law prevents Charlotte breweries, restaurants, and bars from serving alcohol before noon, head out to the U.S. National White Water Center for a little adventure. The manmade white water course is where the U.S. Olympic White Water Team trains. It’s open to the public as an adventure amusement park with white water rafting and kayaking, a zip line, ropes courses, mountain biking, and stand-up paddleboards.
The U.S. National White Water Center also has several beer stands, gardens, and bars all serving an eclectic mix of North Carolina craft beer. It’s a great way to end your weekend in Charlotte as a local would – with a little fun and a little beer!
Recommended Accommodation – Charlotte Marriott Center City
I recommend the Charlotte Marriott Center City for your Charlotte stay. The hotel is wrapping up a massive renovation that will make it Charlotte’s premier hotel with its ideal location at the intersection of Trade St and Tryon St, the hub of Charlotte. The renovated space includes a wine shop, craft beer heavy bar, farm-to-table restaurant (with the recent announcement that Accomplished chef R.J. Cooper will be relocating from Washington to run the kitchen), coffee shop featuring locally roasted beans, and an executive lounge on the main floor with easier access to the kitchen and bar.
Guests will rest well in the hotel’s revamped rooms. Marriott’s outdated color schemes of bright reds and blues have been replaced with more contemporary and calming muted grays and tans. The cozy beds and couches featured in the rooms make a great place to kickback with a tasty local craft beer when you need a break from sightseeing. If you’re traveling with a large group, splurge for the Presidential suite and learn what it feels like to travel like a baller!
Which Charlotte Breweries do you most want to visit?
Disclosure – Post written as part of Charlotte Marriott City Center’s #DesignCharlotte campaign. Regardless, readers receive my honest feedback as my opinions are not for sale. The hotel is pretty baller, though.