Beer & Donuts

Last night, I went to Salud Beer Shop in NoDa to try some beers and stuff my face with Joe’s Doughs donuts. Central Coffee was also there to provide coffee along side the beer.

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We got to sample four beers, all stouts and porters from Stone Brewing Company, Highland Brewing, Bells Brewery and Founders Brewing. As you can see, they were pretty small pours – similar to what you’d get in a flight at a local brewery (maybe even less).

Donuts were passed around and we each got ONE. Now, it was delicious because everything Joe makes is completely amazing but I was prepared to fill up on donuts. Actually, I kind of thought that since it was a “pairing” that we’d get either a small donut to try with each beer or pieces of donuts and not just one regular sized donut to ration out though the tasting (you don’t ration with Joe’s. You gobble.).

Central Coffee provided a cup for everyone and there was plenty for seconds. The event started at 7 PM though, so I wasn’t really trying to get hopped up on caffeine just to try to go to sleep in three hours. I sipped about half of mine and left the rest. The part I drank was very good. If I lived in Plaza Midwood, I’d go there often. There are also several local breweries that use Central Coffee’s coffee in their specialty brews.

The beer, coffee and donuts were all delicious. I was a little surprised that the event cost $10 to get those four small pours and just one donut. I think moving to an actual pairing type event would make it better in the future, especially if they could get mini-donuts from Joe’s to accompany the beers. Otherwise, I say buy your own milk stouts and stake out the next time Joe is doing a pop-up and grab your donuts then.

If you haven’t checked out Salud and Fud at Salud, you should. The beer selection is abundant and the food is quick and tasty. While last night’s event was fun but somewhat disappointing, I’d definitely give it another shot.

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Free Range Brewing: Let your taste buds roam

Saturday seemed like the perfect day to check out Noda’s newest brewery: Free Range Brewing.

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Doors opened at 5 PM and the place was pretty packed by 5:30. They offer half pints, which is a great way to try each of their eight brews without having to drink eight beers, I mean, unless of course you want to drink eight beers.

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Jenny Bought a Farm and Pure Intentions were my favorites, while I felt the Caroliner was lacking a bit in taste. It’s nice that they also offer non-alcoholic drinking options.

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The space was well utilized inside. There’s plenty of seating, a long bar, and you can see up close where they brew the beer. There’s also a good amount of standing room outside on the patio.

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While this may be one of the smaller breweries, they actually have a pretty good space for starting out. And if you remember, OMB, NoDa and Birdsong all had smaller first spaces and have moved or are moving into larger facilities. It’s exciting to have a new brewery in the area since Birdsong moved earlier this year farther down N. Davidson and NoDa Brewing plans to move in the near future.

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It’s worth checking out this new spot next time you’re in the neighborhood. Grab a bite to eat from the food truck outside, grab a pint or three inside and take a break from this heat.

High five, Free Range! See you again soon!

#InstabeerupCLT: Why you should be there

I attended my first #instabeerupCLT in March, and I’ve been every month since (kicking myself for not going before then!). I am incredibly excited for next week’s #instayearup at Unknown Brewing.

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Instabeerup is more than just an opportunity to have beer at one of Charlotte’s many craft breweries. You can do that any day of the week. It is a chance to casually network and an even better opportunity to make new friends. In fact, one of the “rules” is to meet at least one new person. I’ve been fortunate to meet journalists, funny guys, Kristi of @FeastFoodTours, other people in my field of work, and a few ‘friends’ from Twitter. Being friends IRL is way more fun.

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I look forward to these monthly gatherings because they aren’t stiff networking events where everyone is walking around with name tags, business cards and a personal agenda, it’s more everyone is walking around with name tags, a pint and a friendly smile.

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While I personally haven’t made connections for my career, I have enjoyed meeting new people and hearing about their exciting ventures in Charlotte. Also, there’s beer. And sometimes the first beer is sponsored by someone awesome like Yellow Cab of Charlotte.

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So unless you hate beer, don’t want to make any connections for future jobs or new friends, and are basically a recluse, you SHOULD be going to #instabeerup. My husband is an introvert and he went, so you can, too. Again, unless you are a hermit, I expect to see you on Thursday, 6/25 at Unknown Brewing with a smile on your face, beer in your hand and talking to at least one new person.

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PS – let’s give it up for Corri Smith (@corriasmith) and Amy Herman (@VTGCLT) for putting this together. Charlotte is a big place, with so many smart people and so much potential, so we need to be getting together more often. Share your ideas, make new friends, taste good beer, do big things in our city.

Tap Some Ass Clown

Finding Ass Clown Brewery in Cornelius was trickier than I thought. It’s in an industrial area that almost looks like an empty strip mall. The inside is a different story. It’s decorated beautifully (for a brewery) and is welcoming once inside.

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There’s a seating area to the left when you walk in, another to the right and then a bar. We chose to sit at the bar when we arrived (it was not crowded when we got there around 2 PM on a Saturday).

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The bartender was exceptionally friendly and pleasantly answered all of my questions (I had more and more questions as I got closer to finishing my flight). Apparently the name was thought up after the owner attended a beer festival and thought to himself that the brewery names needed to be more clever so people remembered them the next day when they sobered up. Makes sense, right?

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Once inside this brewery, there’s no way you’re forgetting the name. Ass Clown is plastered EVERYWHERE. There were about 20 beers to choose from. I mostly stuck with stouts the first time, and one orange IPA. My husband, the adventurous one, picked a little bit of everything. My favorites were the Orange Spice IPA, Coffee Coconut Stout and the Simcoe.

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There are SO many flavor options to choose from. This is when apps like UnTappd come in handy.

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While there are at least 5 breweries closer to my home, I’m glad we stopped in at Ass Clown. D-9 is just around the corner but we didn’t make it there. Two in one day is too much for this light weight. Highly recommend checking it out if you’re ever in the North Charlotte/Cornelius area.

PS – pick up a glass when you’re there so you can always have the reminder to “drink one, don’t be one.”

Saluting Salud

The craft beer scene has exploded in Charlotte, but you don’t have to go to a brewery to get a fresh pour. Most of our local brews can be found in grocery stores, but if you’re looking for a wider selection, venturing over to Salud in NoDa is worth it.

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Bottles, cans and even a bar await you inside the neon green store. You can buy your beer and drink it while still in the store (and then buy another!). The selection goes well beyond local NC beers, although they do carry most of them.

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Creating your own six pack is an option if you’re not looking to get six of the same brews. Watch the prices on the individual beers though, it can add up quickly. The larger bottles can especially be expensive, but mostly because those are your higher octane beers.

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If you’re just looking to hang out, that’s alright, too. Plop down at the bar and order up your choice draft. Or, order a beer and go sit by the windows and play some old school Nintendo.

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Shopping local is the way to go! Buy your beer from Salud or Good Bottle Company and support the little guys.

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Even if you’re not stocking up on beer, it’s worth stopping in Salud and checking out their selection. You’re certain to find something to make your tastebuds happy!

BBQ at the Q

Queen City Q is one of Charlotte’s newest barbeque spots. Located off 7th street, with a convenient parking deck attached. The light rail also runs right beside of the restaurant so if you don’t need to drive, that’s an excellent choice for transportation.

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They have all the delicious choices of most BBQ places, including mac n’ cheese, collards, fried okra and two types of slaw. The barbeque is good, as is the Cuban sandwich and the wings. You really can’t go wrong with your choices. (I was so excited to eat that I forgot to take a picture before digging in!).

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They also have a wide selection of beers, including many local craft beers. Their draft selection is extensive and provides options for any taste…. from jalapeno beers to pumpkin to peach to chocolate stouts. Flights are a good option too, you can try 4 oz. pours for a small price to determine which one you’d like to have in a pint.

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There are two bars in the place, along with high top tables in the bar area, so there’s plenty of seating if you’re looking to hang out or watch a game. The dining area is also fairly large, but requires being seated by a hostess, and on certain nights, you may encounter a wait (such as concerts or sporting events).

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It can be a little loud in the restaurant, but is otherwise family friendly.

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Overall, it has a great atmosphere. The food is quick and good, and most of the time the service matches. Compared to local staple Mac’s Speed Shop, I’d personally say it falls below but is definitely a quality place to go. I highly recommend adding it to your bucket list in Charlotte. And here’s a tip, if you’re needing your parking validated while going uptown, it’s the perfect place to start out!

 

What’s all the buzz about?

On Saturday, we ventured to Time Warner Cable arena to watch the Charlotte Hornets face off against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Hornets were Charlotte’s team from 1988-2002 and then left for New Orleans. The Bobcats filled in until last season, when the decision was made to bring back the buzz, in big part to Michael Jordan (thanks, MJ!).

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On Saturday, the first 10,000 fans received Hugo the Hornet bobble heads, so the line was quite long (and the air was quite cold!). The arena was much more packed than it used to be for Bobcats games, but still wasn’t full. I’m sure it will be when we play Cleveland and LeBron visits.

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Everywhere you looked you could find Hornets memorabilia or gear, as well as purple and teal people on stilts, a DJ or “honey bees” signing photos or calendars.

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It’s the perfect set up if you have young kids who need some entertainment and can’t sit still through a two-hour game.

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The team store is packed on game days. Supposedly it’s being moved to make for a better user experience and traffic flow. On Saturday it was one out, one in. That being said, the line moved pretty fast but the store itself was crowded and it was difficult to look around. I did manage to snag a shirt from one of the smaller merchandise booths.

IMG_6455Our first stop was the Craft Beer Garden which is sponsored by Dandelion Market. They serve mostly local brews, which is awesome since we have so many wonderful breweries here in Charlotte.

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If you’re not interested in craft beer, you can find domestic beer in about a million other spots in the stadium. The court has a beautiful new honeycomb design. Huge monitors project the game so folks in the upper levels can see clearly if the court is too far away. There’s not really a bad seat in the house.

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There are still tickets available for plenty of games, so you can still visit Buzz City and watch the Hornets in their inaugural season back in Charlotte. IMG_6458

While the Hornets didn’t win their game on Saturday, they did have a miraculous comeback during their first game from a 24-point deficit and won in overtime with a shot by Kemba Walker. There’s guaranteed to be plenty more of that action this season. I can’t wait to see what this team does throughout this first season back. Welcome back, Hornets, welcome back.