"What’s in the Boil : Gettin' Crafty"
By: Jennifer Davis
From “Backroading” with a Bud Light down the Arkansas dirt roads to sipping an IPA and taking in the aromas of the hops as they overwhelm my senses, while providing just the right amount of citrus……oh are we still talking about beer? Not only are we talking about beer, but so is EVERYONE else! I spontaneously moved to North Carolina with aspirations to become more educated in wine, well little did I know that through that process I would become intrigued by another beverage that can be analyzed and scored, paired with food, and discussed in a snobbish manner.
Since the early ales brewed at home by colonist, and the original German lagers, beer has become an art form. In the '70s, people began wanting more out of this refreshing beverage (more flavor, more aromatics). That’s right; wine isn’t the only beverage that has an aroma wheel. Beer can be broken down and analyzed by color, clarity, aroma, body, finish, and not to mention, can be paired with delicious culinary creations.
I spoke with Chef Marc Jacksina, executive chef at Halcyon Flavors From the Earth here in Charlotte, and he claims that the turnout for the beer dinners have been much better than the wine dinners. Is beer taking place of wine? Of course not; beer and wine are completely different and for diverse palates, but they both most certainly can be appreciated quite the same.
Beer has just been brought to our attention and appreciated more in the last few years. The beer appreciation has brought excellent beers from all over the U.S. to be sold in North Carolina, but it has also encouraged many to open their own breweries. During 1994 in North Carolina, Old Hickory Brewery, for example, opened as a brewpub and Highland Brewing Company brewed their first batch.
Then, in the late '90s every guy and his brother dreamed of opening their own brewery. Several breweries tried for a year and then closed, some changed names and/or ownership, while some survived. The more the merrier in my eyes. The passion for craft beer is what keeps the industry going, and as bitter sweet as it may be, we aren’t in it for the money; at least not initially.
Around the early 2000s, several other breweries opened and spread their wings by distributing outside their region and attending beer festivals to create recognition. Brewing was becoming more of a hobby for men at home as well. Home brewers associations were established and beer was becoming a “craft”. New varietals of hops were being created and different malts were being smoked and roasted all adding to the experiment within the kettle. There is the uninhibited willingness to experiment; therefore, people are becoming more enthusiastic about the industry.
Many breweries are still producing from the late '90s such as Green Man Brewing in Asheville, but because of this enthusiasm there came what seems like a “brewery boom” in North Carolina. We now have several breweries that were established around 2004 like Duck Rabbit, Natty Greens, Foothills, and Pisgah. After a couple more years, Big Boss, Wedge, Aviator, and Lonerider came to the beer scene. Then around 2007, our hometown of Charlotte finally opened its own Olde Mecklenburg Brewery to belly up to for a fresh pint. Since then, Charlotte’s craft beer scene took off and now we are fortunate to have breweries such as Four Friends, NoDa Brewing Company, Bird Song, Heist and Triple C. That’s three breweries in the last couple years and two opening up before the end of 2013! Oh, but this is only the beginning.
There are still eager brewers researching and brewing just to get one step closer to opening their own. There are several avenues as to which you can grab a pint from these local breweries and in Charlotte we are lucky enough to have several craft beer bars that are also helping to support this craft beer revolution. Most of the breweries have their own taproom hours and some even give tours! Be sure to check them out and help support the local craft beer scene. Charlotte Craft Beer Week is right around the corner and there are several festivals coming up encouraging you to taste from several breweries in one location! The craft beer industry is taking off and I am looking forward to learning, tasting, researching, and writing about it.