Daytrip to Shelby to visit Bridges Barbecue Lodge and Newgrass Brewing
Since our vacation was postponed, Bryan and I decided to treat ourselves to a weekend daytrip to Shelby. Honestly, we just needed to get out of town for an afternoon. As you might have guessed, our destination involved both food and craft beer.
Shelby, North Carolina is about a 45-minute drive from Charlotte, and it’s home to one of our new favorite breweries – Newgrass Brewing. We’ve been crushing on their beers since they moved into the Charlotte market. They’re creative, farmhouse inspired, and tend to focus on local ingredients.
Bryan has also been on this huge BBQ kick as of late and has had his eye on Bridges Barbecue Lodge since they won Thrillist’s Best BBQ Spot in America Bracket. We also wanted to walk around historic downtown Shelby and pop into the Earl Scruggs Center
With our afternoon planned, we loaded Deacon into the Daddy Wagon and headed out for our daytrip to Shelby!
The Award Winning Bridges Barbecue Lodge
Bridge’s Barbecue Lodge is the kind of place you want to make a road trip for. At least that’s what Bryan tells me, and he’s been studying up on his BBQ for a few freelance articles (The War of North Carolina BBQ: Western vs. Eastern and Where You Can Eat It and 5 BBQ Styles Debunked). Bridge’s Barbecue still pit smokes their pork over hickory overnight according to the same recipe the family run restaurant has been using for over 70 years.
The meat had just the right amount of smoke. It wasn’t overpowering but it also wasn’t missing altogether. It tasted like it was prepared with care, and I’d guess it was. We stopped to speak with one of the pit masters on our way out and we had trouble breaking away. He – like everyone else at Bridge’s Barbecue Lodge – was proud of their tradition.
Personally, I thought the sauce was a bit too vinegary, but Bryan wanted to drink it out of the bottle. I guess that’s a preference thing. For me, the hushpuppies stole the show. I can’t say I’ve had better. The ratio of corn to bread was perfect and the crust was perfectly crisp. They weren’t oily or too dry. Bryan dipped his in BBQ sauce, but I ate mine plain. They didn’t need anything else!
Overall, we really enjoyed our experience at Bridge’s Barbecue Lodge. The food was great and the people were friendly. They couldn’t get enough of Deacon. It’s why I love living in the South so much. We’re just friendlier down here, and Bridge’s Barbecue is the perfect example.
A Stop at Shelby’s only Craft Brewery, Newgrass Brewing
After Bridge’s, we headed into historic downtown Shelby to visit Newgrass Brewing. Newgrass Brewing is not the kind of brewery I’d expect in a small town. Most small town breweries are predictable and avoid pushing the limits of beer claiming that their customers just aren’t ready for all that craft beer can be. Not so with Newgrass Brewing.
It’s true that standards like pale ales, IPAs, and porters are on the menu, but there are plenty of farmhouse ales, sours, and other avant garde selections as well. We each ordered a flight. Bryan really enjoyed the 5 String Hoppy Wheat brewed with North Carolina wheat, the Carolina Uncommon Rye Saison, and the Brett Golden Strong, which I second. It was dangerously easy to drink and refreshing at 9.4%.
I really liked their PawPaw’s Oatmeal Porter, Coconut Uptown Nut Brown, and the Bier de Garde. As you can tell, our beer tastes differ quite drastically. However, we both agreed that the Shelby Rose tart farmhouse with hibiscus was crazy delicious like a refined European cocktail.
All I have to say is Newgrass Brewing could be one of the best breweries in the state of North Carolina. (Don’t worry Wooden Robot, I still love you, and Wicked Weed, if only I wasn’t pregnant the two times Bryan brought me there…)
They even have a pretty creative food menu, but we were still stuff from our lunch. The spicy fried pickles with hot peppers and a tahini dipping sauce and the bratwurst with bacon-onion jam will have to wait until next time.
An Awesome Place to Visit
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to walk around downtown Shelby or visit the Earl Scruggs Center. As we finished up our flight, the skies let loose with a terrible thunderstorm with no hope of letting up anytime soon so we headed home. That’s a shame though because from what we saw, Shelby had a lot to offer and would even be great place to spend that night. If you plan to head to Shelby, check out the latest hotel reviews and make a weekend of it.
Alas, we left Shelby with a huge next time. Perhaps for the Livermush Festival, which Bryan has circled on the calendar.