Brewery Tour – Charlotte, NC

The Unknown Brewing Company

IMG_3376The Unknown Brewing Company has a fun atmosphere combining good music with a young crowed. As you sit down, through large glass windows you can see into the brewery. When I visited, there were people playing corn hole in the foreground with huge conicals in the background. The staff was friendly and helpful without being overbearing. Their Sweet Tea Beer was awesome, blending malt with the sweetness of honey and balancing it with the dark overtones of black tea. Having had many cups of sweet tea while in the south, I can say that this is a pretty good take on the original. Although their house IPA was pleasant, I think that ‘Scratch and sniff’, one of their session IPAs, was superior. I was sharp and refreshing with a mint and pine front and a dank nose. IMG_3378Finally, among their line up they had a few surprises such as ‘Kitten Snuggles’. Kitten Snuggles… the name says it all. It contained catnip, milk sugar, and apricots. Although its super weird, I genuinely enjoyed it. Hit had cherry pie type notes and a hint of sour, but was brewed without brettanomyces according to the staff. Overall it’s a fun place to hangout. The only improvement I could suggest would be the addition of some king of food.

Overall: 8/10

Web Page: http://www.unknownbrewing.com/

Address: 1327 S Mint St, Charlotte, NC 28203

Wooden Robot Brewery

IMG_3387On the night that I visited, the Wooden Robot was packed to the gills. However, much to their credit, there was still ample table room to put down your beer. The place has a very vibrant atmosphere, not taking itself too seriously but providing a great place to enjoy some refreshing beer in good company. The servers were incredibly friendly and eager to talk about beer and make suggestions. They all had an extensive knowledge about the line up and seemed genuinely interested in the patrons enjoyment of their beer. Their Mocha beer was awesome,  with a touch of Ovaltine and instant coffee. It brings to mind memories of chai latte and morning cups Joe. This beer brought a genuine  smile to my mouth while i was sipping it. IMG_3386I wish I could wake up to that beer in the morning. Also top-notch was their  ‘Renegade sour’. It was mouth puckering with great nose and solid flavor. It is a no frills beer with nothing to hide any fermentation flaws behind. It is tart with clean fruit character and a solid funk. The rest of the line up included good old reliable beers that while they did not stand out, were obviously brewed with care by knowledgable brewers. I wish that I lived closer to this brewery and could visit it more often. This is a must visit brewery to anyone in Charlotte!

Overall: 9/10

Web Page: http://woodenrobotbrewery.com

Address: 1440 S Tryon St #110, Charlotte, NC 28203

Brew Tour – Raleigh, NC

Trophy Brewing

This place is an excellent brewery combining the best of both food and beer leading to an excellent drinking experience. I came in on a Friday afternoon as my car was getting repaired. At a balmy 91 degrees, the day was shaping up to be a scorcher. The sun followed me into the brewery, its hot rays inspiring me move quickly into its cold embrace.

IMG_3367Shane Fisher, the General Manager, greeted me and welcomed me into the back. As I walked in, their head brewer was juicing fresh oranges and the air was redolent with the smell of citrus. It was a small room, no bigger than 30 by 30 feet, and filled to the gills with fermenters and brewing equipment.

IMG_3368“It’s amazingly cool in here” were some of the first words out of my mouth “how do you do you’re heating?”

“Were all electric” Replied Shane with a smile as he showed me the master control panel of the brewery, an impressive piece of technology which controls the brewing opperation.

IMG_3362It’s safe to say that while their operation may be small, they are making the most of the space that they have and producing excellent product. When it comes to the beer, their lineup is as diverse as it is excellent; with sours, to saisons, and even a few lagers gracing the taps. My tasting started with a Gose with both ginger and rosemary. To me, sour beers can be an indication of a brewer’s quality and potential. From the minute the gose hit my lips, I knew they were on to something special.

“Do you sour in the fermenter or the kettle?” I asked, taking another sip.

IMG_3363“We do most of our souring in the kettle, but we are starting to work on devoting a whole tank to brett.”

One trend that I have seen recently is the use of fruit, herbs, and spices in Gose and Berliner Weisse. When I asked about this trend he nodded, “ We have been using a lot of teas recently, and we find that they work well and give us the flavor we are looking for.”

IMG_3365Whatever it is that they are doing, it is working. The ‘Your my boy blue’, a wee heavy with blueberry and pomegranate tea was an extraordinary blend of the malty richness of wee heavy with the sweet richness of blueberries and pomegranate.

Trophy Brewing’s food is also something to wright home about. Their house specialty is pizza, a dish that often blends well with beer. During my visit, I enjoyed the “local Celebrity” which combined brussels sprouts, pork belly and a mélange of flavors that came together and complemented the beer.

Overall 9/10

Web Page: http://trophybrewing.com/

Address: 827 W. Morgan Street, Raleigh, NC 27603