Black and Blue V preview
The beginning of March means it’s time for not only one of the premier beer festivals in Charlotte, but the region. Entering its fifth year, Brawley’s Black and Blue has the looks of being the best yet.
Saturday’s festival is at The Visulite Theatre from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. It has been sold out for a while, and for good reason. Black and Blue features rare beers from more than 30 breweries, including several from the Queen City.
“Every year this has gotten better, and we hope it continues that trajectory,” says Michael Brawley, organizer of the event and owner of Brawley’s Beverage. “It’s kind of a festival that runs itself; it’s so carefree. We just get the ball rolling and the community responds well.”
One of the things that makes Black and Blue stand out from other festivals is the limited capacity. Brawley sells just 250 tickets each year, which gives the attendees room to move around easily and try many of the beers offered.
“It’s like a big party more than a beer festival,” Brawley says. “It’s really intimate; there’s no table between you and the brewers and most everybody knows each other here or recognizes them from out and about, so it’s got a different feel. And the ratio of people to brewers is small, which is great.”
As far as the beer goes, the lineup is close to being set. Every day new beers are added to the Black and Blue event page on Beer Advocate. On the local front, NoDa Brewing is bringing Monstro, an imperial stout brewed with molasses and cocoa nibs aged in 10-year Pappy Van Winkle barrels. There’s been a lot of whispers about this beer, and look for more about it in a future On Tap post. (NoDa recently announced Monstro, named after the whale in the Disney classic Pinocchio, will be bottled in a very limited release.) NoDa’s second beer will be Olde Voyager English Barleywine.
Olde Mecklenburg is featuring two excellent recent releases in LoSo Ryder and Fat Boy Baltic Porter, while Birdsong is bringing kegs of Honey Pie DIPA and from their Take Flight series, Puppies on Penguins. Triple C will have three beers: one of the few remaining kegs of Bourbon Barrel-Aged Up All Night, Road to Nowhere Porter and Barrel-Aged Imperial Smoked Amber.
Several of Charlotte’s newest breweries will also be in attendance. Unknown’s beers are Tele-Porter and Vehopsiraptor DIPA (both of which were on tap during Unknown’s grand opening and are quite good). Free Range Brewing will have Hop to My Heart Darling IPA and a second beer yet to be announced. Look for two yet to be announced beers from District 9 as well, while neighbor Ass Clown Brewing will have their Oyster Bacon Stout.
Heist Brewery is pouring as well, along with Windy Hill Orchard from York, S.C. Lenny Boy will feature both non-alcoholic Kombucha along with the spiked ’booch and a sour witbier.
Again, that’s just the local beers. Other breweries pouring at Black and Blue include Foothills, Wicked Weed, Burial, Olde Hickory, Fonta Flora, Highland and Quest, just to name a few. And as always, expect some surprises at Black and Blue.
“There’s going to be some twists on some historic beers,” teased Brawley.
Black and Blue has also always featured bluegrass acts and Brawley says he’s excited about this year’s group. Love Canon is a four-piece bluegrass band that covers most of the hits from the 1980s. While there’s no food at Black and Blue, Brawley said nearby Carpe Diem is the “unofficial” restaurant for the festival.
For the unlucky ones who missed out on a ticket, all is not lost. As is usually the case in Charlotte’s craft beer scene, there are other events happening the rest of the week/weekend.
• You can taste some of the beers featured at Black & Blue two days early, at Custom Home Pubs’ Charlotte Rare Beer Tasting Thursday (Feb. 27) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door (you can purchase them in advance at this link).
The impressive local lineup for this event includes the actual debut of NoDa’s Monstro, Olde Mecklenburg’s Fat Boy Baltic Porter, Triple C’s Imperial Smoked Amber and Birdsong’s Barrel-Aged St. Tuber Abbey, among others. The complete list can be found at Custom Home Pubs’ Web site. Those who attend will also receive a free pint glass, and I should mention this is unlimited sampling for three hours (read: great deal).
• If you’re not going to Black & Blue Saturday (or want to do a little pregaming), my recommendation is head up I-77 to Lake Norman Brewing, which is officially opening its tap room. Some of Lake Norman’s beers have already been seen around some bars up north along with several festivals, and now the Mooresville-based brewery is ready for its grand opening.
Lake Norman will have Dockside Blonde, Outboard Amber Ale and Pontoon Pale Ale on tap along with five specialty beers. Check out Daniel’s post at Charlotte Beer for all of the information.