I did some reflecting on this past year. Began thinking about all the great Charlotte #CheersWorthy events that transpired in 2014 and we had some great ones this year we can toast. Here we go:
10. Stone Brewing setting up in Richmond. I know what you’re thinking, hey this isn’t about Charlotte! Well it is since Charlotte was in the running for Stone’s East Coast location. But I happened to be in the opinion that we don’t need Stone Brewing to make us relevant. We already have nationally recognized Brew brands that are identified with Charlotte (see #9, #7, & #3). Bringing Stone Brewing here would be great for the overall “NC Beer Map” but that’s about it. It would be akin to other west coast breweries setting up shop in the Tar Heel State and providing some great opportunities (Beer Camp comes to mind). But Stone moving to Richmond instead gives us close enough proximity to enjoy some of Stones unique offerings without taking away from what we already have established.
9. Olde Mecklenburg Brewing winning Best Brewery Tour in USA Today. This is part of that national recognition I mentioned above. OMB ran neck and neck with Magic Hat (a subsidiary of Samuel Adams) throughout the voting. Winning was great but the true Cheers Worthy aspect was the “we have to win” attitude normally attributed to the Panthers or Hornets in a playoff race. Olde Meck deserved the win by the very fact that it is a brewery brewing beer the old way with some great southern hospitality thrown in for icing.
8. Carolina Brewmasters winning the Radegast club of the year. Alright I’m not that smart I had to look up Radegast apparently he was the Slavic god of hospitality. How ironic after mentioning “southern hospitality” above that I’m mentioning it again. Radegast Homebrew Club of the Year award was presented at the 2014 National Homebrewers Conference and the Carolina Brewmasters brought it home. The award is not achieved through competition, but with community building efforts that benefit the greater good and local society. Which brings me to number 7…
7. The 16th Annual Charlotte Oktoberfest was a marvelous event. Beer, food, music, and all for three worthwhile causes: Camp Care, Kids Rein, and Classroom Central. $80,000 was raised to be split between these three organizations. What an awesome party. Especially since just prior there was another Oktoberfest in Charlotte for charity (which we still don’t know how much was raised). But at the one we did know what was raised we all raised our glasses high to cheer what was done.
6. The Buzz returns to Charlotte 2014. I know this is not a beer related event but truly Cheers Worthy for our identity. The Bobcats announced on May 21, 2013 they were petitioning to change their name back to the Hornets with a start season of 2014-2015. I point that date out because I don’t think it was an accident they chose that date, that’s Meck Deck Day. You know Captain James Jack, Cornwallis, Hornet’s Nest of Rebellion stuff. Yep, the Hornets came back this year bringing the familiar teal & purple to give us something else for national identity. Now like our Panthers we have “our team” to hoist a glass of Hop Drop, Capt. Jack, or any of the other local craft beers as we have our Buzz Back.
5. Local Craft Beer Community now this is our local breweries, bottle shops, pour houses, growler filling stations, clubs, reporters, bloggers, podcasters, die hard hop heads, etc. all rolled into one group. We witnessed the efforts of these groups as new craft beer businesses opened, expanded, raised money, etc. It is not uncommon to see a bottle shop owner at a competitors shop or brewery reps showing up at grand openings for another brewery. It’s all about celebrating the craft and as far as business goes there is enough to go around. I mention this because you don’t see this in other industries. In the entertainment community that I frequent if another comedian shows up at my performance it is to either steal material or to stroke their own ego in the idea that they are funnier than I am. Or I witness sabotaging of a theater group by another or at the very least bad mouthing all in the name of Art. I don’t see this same kind of reaction in the local craft beer community. I see someone from NoDa Brewing or OMB enjoying the other’s beer and not to steal a secret recipe but to enjoy the craft. At two recent brewery grand openings it was common to run into someone from another brewery there to wish the new guys good luck and a warm welcome. This needs to be celebrated and toasted. Don’t take this one for granted or trivialize it. It is special.
4. Local Craft Beer added to selections at various larger businesses. Charlotte Douglas Airport with the Carolina Beer Co. offering local crafted beers for travelers. Older restaurants & bars, & grocery stores began adding “local” craft brew more and more. Beer Gardens at Charlotte Knights & Time Warner Arena. Our options to enjoy local crafted beers expanded greatly in 2014. The Food Lion around the corner from me began offering OMB Copper about mid-year. Now if I’m heading out from Charlotte or coming home I can have a Hop Drop. When I drop in at Kristopher’s late at night I can get a Higher Ground, or if I need to pick up some eggs and milk real quick at 10:30 I can get some Copper. Guess what we win.
3. Craft Beer Expansions, Existing businesses either moved into bigger digs (OMB), expanded or adding onto existing locations (Salud & Brawley’s), or announced moving into larger spaces (NoDa Brewing & Birdsong Brewing). This was proof that the craft beer business in the Charlotte area is successful.
2. More Craft Beer! We witnessed significant growth here in the Charlotte Metro area adding several new breweries to our already great list of offerings. And we have more on the way.
1. NoDa Brewing winning Gold Medal at the World Cup of Beer for Hop Drop and Roll. This award transcended the other events earlier this year. I have friends and relatives all over the US that found out and wanted me to hop in a Trans Am and get them some for an event. There were stories of people wearing NoDa ball caps out west and people knew where they were from. This was big beer news in 2014 and it landed right here. Any conversation about Charlotte beer was anchored with “and Hop Drop won gold in 2014”.
So this is my list of Charlotte Cheers Worthy Events of 2014. It might not match your list but it’s mine.
Raise Your Glass Eye, Cheers!