(C)rafting at the Whitewater Center

Courtesy of USNWC
The U.S. National Whitewater Center's Microbrews Cruise pairs craft beer from local and statewide breweries with a kayak tour and dinner

I think (hope) summer is finally here to stay in Charlotte, and that means getting out to enjoy some great outdoor activities, hopefully with a great craft beer or two.


And there’s one place that can provide both and also happens to have a couple weekly summertime events designed for craft beer lovers: The U.S. National Whitewater Center.


If you haven’t been out to the Whitewater Center, it boasts tons of adventure pursuits, including rafting, stand-up paddleboard, a climbing wall and zip line, among other activities.


And when you need a break (or a breath), River’s Edge Bar and Grill is the perfect spot to relax with a craft beer while taking in the scenery. When I first visited the Whitewater Center a few years ago, I was surprised (and pleased) at the abundance of craft beer selections at the restaurant.


River’s Edge has more than 20 craft beers on tap, and many are devoted to either local or statewide selections, with even a few microbreweries you may not have heard of yet thrown in for good measure.


On Thursdays and Saturdays, head out to the Whitewater Center for River Jam, which features various musical artists. Check the online schedule for the lineup and days. There’s no cost to attend, though a mandatory $5 parking fee is assessed every time you visit the Whitewater Center (unless you get a season pass).


The Whitewater Center is also offering two different events throughout the summer that pairs craft beer with some outdoor fun.


The Microbrews Cruise is a guided kayak tour (flatwater paddle) along the Catawba River to Hawk Island. Once on land, there is a chef-prepared dinner (fireside, no less) for you along with various craft beers from a brewery or bottle shop. Each week, a different brewery comes out, along with a representative or two to discuss their beers and offer tastings.


These are well attended, and the season has already kicked off with cruises featuring NoDa Brewing Company, Birdsong Brewing Company, Salud Beer Shop and Aviator Brewing Company, among others. Tickets are $55, and the cruises will take place on Wednesdays (and a few Fridays) at 6 p.m. (usually ending at 10 p.m.) from now until September. The cruises have a capacity of 55 people and fill up fast (the next 5 are already sold out) so if you want to go, I’d sign up quickly. Here’s the remainder of the schedule.


For those who like a little more thrill, the Whitewater Center also offers Zipline & Dine, where participants go on a zipline excursion from the south end of the center to the Catawba River. The zipline trip lasts anywhere from one and a half to two hours and when it’s over, you’ll be treated to a chef-prepared fireside dinner along with two drinks of your choice, whether it’s craft beer or wine.


Most of the Zipline & Dines take place on Wednesdays, although there is one scheduled for Friday, June 21. This weekly event runs through October and costs $75 per person. Registration and a schedule can be found here.


Finally, don’t forget about the Brew Stash Bash on Saturday, June 15. More than 20 breweries will be featured, from local (NoDa, Birdsong, Olde Mecklenburg, Triple C) to statewide (Aviator, Foothills, Highland, Olde Hickory, among others) to national (including Anchor, Southern Tier, Stone, Terrapin).


The tasting begins at 1 p.m., and it’s $5 for four beer tickets (each ticket equals a 4-ounce sample). There will be live music throughout the day, with Railroad Earth headlining the event at 8 p.m. (the tasting will end at 6 p.m.). And prior to the bash, there’s also a Brew Stash Dash that begins at 11 a.m., which will take participants on a 6K race through the Whitewater Center’s trails. Cost is $27 prior to June 12, then it goes up to $37. And for $5 extra, the USWNC will throw in $10 in beer tickets. You can register at this link. 

Categories: Beer