For its fourth year, Queen City Brewers Festival will host their patrons on January 31 in a new home that, itself, is not new. First opened in 1955, Bojangles’ Coliseum was the go-to venue for sports and entertainment. Now, 60 years after it opened, the Coliseum has again found itself in the news with the city agreeing to $16 million in renovations and the Charlotte Checkers promising to bring hockey back to the venue.
But it was the historic feel that Bojangles’ Coliseum still offers that was an immediate attraction to QCBF organizer Nils Weldy.
“I walked through and loved the vibe,” Weldy said. “The venue speaks for itself. It’s a historic Charlotte venue.”
A place original to Charlotte is a good fit for QCBF, which highlights Charlotte-local breweries and establishments. It has also allowed the festival, traditionally a sellout, to grow in its footprint and number of tickets offered in the larger space.
The move to the Coliseum was one made from need with much of last year’s venue, Silver Hammer Studios, being converted to temporary office space. As that space was reduced, the Charlotte beer industry has continued to grow.
As the lineup currently stands, this year’s QCBF will feature 17 breweries, 1 cidery and 27 exhibitors, which will fill the new open floor plan the Coliseum offers. Making their QCBF debuts are new breweries to the local scene Barking Duck Brewing, Bayne Brewing, Primal Brewery, Sycamore Brewing and Sugar Creek Brewing.
Besides the Charlotte area being represented, those attending the festival will also be able to find beers from a greater footprint with local craft beer exhibitors teaming with North Carolina breweries. Good Bottle Company will be pouring Wicked Weed Brewing, Salud will pour beer from Fonta Flora, The Beer Growler Charlotte will bring Asheville’s Burial Brewing into the mix and Hickory Tavern will feature Red Oak, to name a few.
At the heart of the festival, the design is to feature Charlotte-local breweries. Weldy says QCBF offers the opportunity for folks who are new to the area to get familiar with the array of breweries available to them, but is also a great place for those who have been in Charlotte for a while to try core beers from breweries they may not have had in years.
“This is your chance to reacquaint yourself with Charlotte beer,” Weldy said.
Despite the focus on beer, Weldy says the true reason for the festival is raising funds for ACEing Autism, a nonprofit that makes tennis available to children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Weldy is the program director for ACEing Autism’s Charlotte location at Charlotte Latin School, where they offer spring and fall sessions. Beyond awareness and funds, the festival has also resulted in greater involvement, like program volunteers. They also hope to open more locations in the area.
“That (supporting ACEing Autism) is the purpose of this event when you boil it down,” Weldy said.
With half of the tickets already sold, visit qcbrewfest.com to secure your entry to either the afternoon session from 1-4 p.m. or the evening session from 6-9 p.m.
Photos by Tom Henderson, Tom Henderson Photography