Charlotte's 50 Best Craft Beers


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ILLUSTRATIONS BY DUSTIN HARBIN

(page 1 of 4)

THE CRAFT BEER produced in Charlotte and surrounding cities is among the best in the country. But how do the beers rank against each other? That’s where the fun begins.

Matt McKenzie has covered Charlotte’s beer scene for this magazine since 2013. Earlier this year, he consulted with local beer experts, bottle shop owners, bartenders, and others to compile this list of 50 best beers in the city. 

Argue away at these choices, but do so with a pint of your favorite local beer. Download a printable poster of this list here.


 1. Citraquench’l
Heist Brewery, available at various times during the year
Numbers, in this case, don’t lie. This hazy, New England-style IPA is the top-rated beer in North Carolina on BeerAdvocate.com and ranked in the top 10 overall for IPAs in the U.S.


 2. Cataclysm
Heist, available in winter
A Russian imperial stout series with a cult following. The most recent version, Cataclysm III, was aged in Whistle Pig Rye and Jefferson’s Rye barrels, and introduced to a large gathering of fanatics who camped overnight in February.


3. Mecktoberfest
The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, available in fall (August release) 
Clean, crisp, and smooth, this Märzen-style amber lager is the first beer you should drink each fall.


4. MexiCali Stout
​Birdsong Brewing Co., available in winter (late October release)
A delicious stout brewed with cinnamon, cocoa nibs, and serrano peppers, then topped with locally roasted coffee to help to keep you warm on winter nights.


5. Hop, Drop ‘n Roll
​NoDa Brewing Company, available year-round
The beer that made people around the country notice Charlotte’s local beer scene. Hopped three ways in the brewing process, HDR won a World Beer Cup Gold award in 2014 and remains the city’s signature IPA for many.


6. Bourbon Barrel-Aged Up All Night
Triple C Brewing Co., available in winter
The base beer is good on its own, but when this breakfast porter (brewed with local coffee and honey) comes out of bourbon barrels, you have a masterpiece. 


7. Copper
​Olde Mecklenburg, available year-round
This simple, reliable altbier, first released when OMB opened as the first craft brewery in Charlotte in March 2009, remains the best-selling craft beer in the city. 


8. Hop Cakes
​NoDa, available in February
Head brewer Chad Henderson uses more than 350 pounds of maple syrup from Vermont to create this tasty double IPA, which started out as a small-batch beer and quickly became one of the brewery’s most popular selections.


9. 3C IPA
Triple C, available year-round
The name comes from the hops used—Citra, Centennial, and Chinook. You could add a fourth C for celebration after this IPA won a bronze medal at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival.


10. Good Morning Vietnam
Wooden Robot Brewery, available year-round
Head brewer Dan Wade created this blonde ale with coffee and vanilla, and it’s as distinct and easy to drink as any beer in town.


11. Salty Coconut Red Ale
Sycamore Brewing, available at various times during the year
More than 10 pounds of coconut go into each red ale barrel, and a touch of sea salt is added at the end of the brew process. You’ll feel like you’re in the islands. 


12. Jalapeño Pale Ale
​Birdsong, available year-round
Ever since this unique pale ale debuted in 2011, head brewer Conor Robinson and his crew have used fresh jalapeño peppers, hand-cutting them and removing the seeds themselves. 


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