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!

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Birdsong Brewing

NoDa quickly became the spot to find craft beer after NoDa, Birdsong and Heist set up shop. Birdsong found it’s fame with it’s jalapeno pale ale, which is offered at bars and restaurants around the city.

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Birdsong has a laid back atmosphere with it’s open porch area for sitting and inside which is small but rarely feels cramped.

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Even though they don’t serve food, or even have food trucks come like NoDa, they are always busy with folks hanging out having a beer or picking up a growler to go. Occasionally, they’ll have a local artist playing music inside.

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Feel free to ride your bike to Birdsong, as parking is limited in the area (especially when there are events or run club at NoDa). They have bike racks out front for safe keeping.

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As much of NoDa is, Birdsong is dog friendly, so your pooch can come hang out while you try some of their signature brews like the Jalapeno Pale Ale, Doin’ Thyme, Lazy Bird Brown Ale or Higher Ground IPA, these are all available year round, in addition to their seasonal releases.

birdsong3Be sure to check out Birdsong in their current location, they’ll be moving closer to the city (still off of N. Davidson) in the near future! Make a day of it and grab some food from the food truck that’s usually at NoDa Brewing and then grab a natural popsicle from King of Pops!

 

Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat

Friends lovers everywhere will rejoice in the naming of this quaint NoDa coffee shop. I’m pretty sure Phoebe Buffay has never stepped foot in Smelly Cat, but if she did, she would pull out her guitar and start singing in the corner.

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Just across from Neighborhood Theatre, you can find a seat outside of this adorable local coffee shop. While I love my Starbucks, I have to admit that Smelly Cat was pretty darn good. I love how charming the storefront is and that they have a bucket of dog water out in front. The baristas were friendly and the service was quick.

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The decor is whimsical and perfectly place, with exposed brick on the walls. Not in the mood for coffee? I also spotted beer on the counter (however, it was 9 A.M. on Sunday morning and I think order one of those would have been frowned upon!).

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We ordered our coffee to go and decided to walk around NoDa for a few. Coffee is also available in the Evening Muse (Daily Grind) and at the new Aussie coffee shop, Ozpresso.

smellycat1For less than coffee at Starbucks and with double the charm, I have to vote for Smelly Cat. Supporting local businesses is key to helping neighborhoods like NoDa (with no (true) chain restaurants)  survive. So be cool, drink coffee at Smelly Cat next time you’re in the neighborhood!

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In the Club

On Wednesdays, runners gather outside of NoDa Brewing with a goal of completing 1, 3 or 5 miles before swallowing a couple pints of craft beer and enjoying dinner from a visiting food truck. run clubI get asked often if it’s just for “serious runners?” And it’s not. I am not a “serious runner.” I am the runner who can do 3 miles any day of the week and be okay. I can do 5 and be tired and maybe a little sore. I’ve pushed myself through 10ks, and even half marathons, but run club is not about winning a race, it’s a community.

RunclubgirlsJust yesterday, I met up with 3 girls (and a dog) who I previously only knew on social media. We had connected through similar interests and found that we enjoy running (in various distances), most have tried cross fit, and we all love King of Pops popsicles.

runclubfeetThe group takes off as one. And sure, some people fly by, some people start at the front so they aren’t stuck in the cluster on the first hill, but most are there with friends and maybe a pooch, and some start off slower or even walking. We’re there to exercise. We’re there to socialize. We’re there to be a part of a community where we share something: an interest in running (and drinking craft beer).

runclubbeerI would very honestly recommend NoDa Brewing’s run club to anyone who wants to be active and part of a community. Walking is allowed. No one is judging, but everyone is willing to encourage you and support you in finishing whichever route you choose. I’ve been a dedicated NoDa Run Clubber to this point but do have a plan to check out Triple C’s Run Club which is held on Thursdays.

runclubkelbyPS – if you’re not in the mood for food or beer after your run, try a popsicle!