Touring the Queen City, craft beer style

Charlotte has seen an increase in breweries over the past few years, and there’s more on the horizon.  Local craft offerings are more popular than ever, and a new company is aiming to give both Queen City residents and tourists alike a chance to visit those breweries, sample beer and see how it’s all made.


Charlotte Brew Tours has its first tour this Saturday, or a “soft opening” as owner Michael Pooley puts it. The tour, which will begin in uptown Charlotte, lasts about five hours and visits four breweries: Olde Mecklenburg, Birdsong, NoDa and Triple C.


Pooley became a craft beer fan while attending Appalachian State University, where he bartended at Cottonwood Brewery (which has since left Boone and is now part of Foothills Brewery in Winston-Salem). A Greensboro native, Pooley moved to Charlotte after graduating, where he worked at RíRá and, most recently, as the bar manager at Dandelion Market. It was there where he first thought about the idea of a local brewery tour.


“I always enjoyed turning people on to new beers, especially local,” Pooley says. “So if someone would order an Abita Amber, I’d say, ‘Hey, you might also like Olde Mecklenburg Copper. And by the way, it’s brewed only several miles from here.’”


“After a while, I thought that instead of recommending all these local breweries, why not just take them there?”


Charlotte Brew Tours has been in the works for about a year, and Pooley was able to secure partnerships with local travel resource Charlotte’s Got a Lot and Rose Chauffeured Transportation. The minibus can hold up to 28 people and comes equipped with TVs, free WiFi and coolers stocked with bottled water and also available to store any purchases.


At each brewery, tour guests will receive one pint of beer as part of their ticket cost, but can buy additional pints, bottles or growlers while there. At each stop, a representative from the brewery will take the guests on a tour and explain the brewing process. After the tour, guests can spend some time in the taproom for sampling and purchasing. 


Pooley stresses the tours are not designed to be like a bar crawl but rather, “a fun and educational experience.”


“It’s special to walk through the brewery and be able to taste the ingredients and see the process from the beer you got earlier that week when you ordered a pint at a local bar,” he says. “It’s like when the chef comes out of the kitchen to talk to you about the food you ordered. We’re able to offer that experience to craft beer enthusiasts and people visiting from out of town who want to explore great beer.”


Tours will run every Saturday beginning at 12:30 p.m., and tickets for each person are $65. Pooley adds private tours can also be arranged for occasions such as birthday parties and corporate outings with enough advance notice, and he also hopes to have additional local breweries on the tour in the future.


For more information or to make a reservation, visit Charlotte Brew Tour’s Web site.

Categories: Beer