Mike Brawley & Pinky
If you’ve been tuned in to the the Charlotte craft beer scene at all in the last several years, you should know about Brawley’s Beverage by now. Michael Brawley has been running this shop since 2003, and he completed renovations, including a new bar with 11 taps, in late 2014. The years have definitely been good as the industry takes off. But one thing you might not know is that Michael Brawley puts on one of the best festivals in Charlotte around this time every year. And that festival is Brawley’s Black & Blue.
Why Black & Blue? Well, if you don’t come out of this event a
little lot banged up, you did it wrong. And the 6th annual Black & Blue delivered on that promise once again. For the 6th year in a row, this festival offered up a wide variety of big & rare beers including some amazing Russian imperial stouts, sours, bretts, and so much more. There was even a 14%er making an appearance this year.
Great bluegrass music!
The event is held at the Visulite in the Elizabeth neighborhood every year, and it’s a great venue for an intimate festival like Black & Blue. The event sold out in roughly 3 hours, likely due to the reduced number of tickets sold this year. More tickets were sold in previous years, and attendees were elbow to elbow last year–a bit much. The reduction in tickets was a welcome change as there was definitely a little more breathing room for festival goers. The music was great as well, though a little loud at times. They took breaks though, and overall, it was a nice complement to the amazing brews.
Between beers & sets
What about the beers, you ask? Oh the beer list was quite impressive as expected. It was really hard to pick a favorite, but the crowds definitely had their share. Amongst those was Olde Hickory’s Omega Point–a bourbon barrel aged barleywine blended from 7 years worth of vintages–which was a brewery-only release. It was incredible, and people couldn’t stop talking about it. Another amazing showing came from Fonta Flora via their Urban Monk, a silky smooth RIS with tons of chocolate and hints of oak. One of my personal favorites was the Sherry Barrel-Aged Old Chub Scottish Ale from Oskar Blues, which had a bit of a sour character to it (in that amazingly good kind of way). Of course, Natty Greene’s brought their usual A game with a hefty 7 taps, and a solid showing on the sour front. The guys from D9 are definitely upping their game in the sour world with their Iocaine, a blonde sour with pomegranate that hits all the right notes. And Haw River represented well with a tripel with brett–earthy & delicious. But it was Trophy that stole the show with their Heavyweight Champ Bourbon Barrel-Aged Stout coming in at a ripe 14%. It was fantastic.
2/3 of the Cheers Charlotte Hosts
I could go on and on in great fuzzy detail about the good beer, good times, and good people. This is hands down one of the best festivals in the Charlotte area because it’s in an intimate setting, delivers high quality beer, and never fails to disappoint on a great evening with my beer friends.