I remember, in a college creative writing class, describing Charlotte as “a sunny suburb, an undeniably pleasant place to live.” And certainly, anyone who has spent a warm spring day enjoying an iced coffee outside the Caribou Coffee on East Woodlawn Road would agree. But a lot of things are pleasant. Jelly beans. Ice cream. Doesn’t mean you commit to them for life.
But this weekend, when the Hop Culture Team visited Charlotte to throw Juicy Brews March Madness, I noticed that the city wasn’t just pleasant. It was hip. Fun. Cool. And I have to think a lot of this comes from breweries. From the beer garden at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery to the coffee shop vibes of Suffolk Punch, you could visit a different brewery every day and still see something new after a month.
It’s no secret that we have a bit of a crush on Charlotte-based Resident Culture, and for good reason. Their space is absolutely beautiful, built inside what was once an old print shop run by the father of co-founder Phillip McLamb. On Fridays, the McLambs open their parking lot to food trucks and it seems like the whole community visits, bringing friends and children and dogs.
However, no brewery is an island, and I’d remiss if I didn’t mention the joy of meeting the Resident Culture team. Head brewer Chris Tropeano, aka Tropes, used to work at Russian River and is extremely talented. Artist Maryssa Pickett is young but has defined the brand’s entire visual identity. Cassi Barlow, Bekah Hicks, and the rest of the staff are so friendly that they put our gruff New York City identities to shame. And of course, the whole team takes their example from co-founders Amanda and Phillip McLamb.
The weather for Juicy Brews March Madness couldn’t have been more perfect. Unfortunately, our team forgot sunscreen and poor John now looks like a lobster. But a little pain couldn’t dampen our spirits. DJ Trife spun records like a madman, and we enjoyed food from nearly a dozen vendors. Phillip McLamb set up a ten-foot basketball hoop, the backboard designed to match our Hop Culture x Resident Culture collaboration beer, a triple IPA called “From Way Downtown.” Former Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart was in attendance. We ate good food, listened to good music, and drank some fantastic beer. What more could you want from a sunny spring afternoon?
Every festival is a blur for me, but I loved meeting the people of Charlotte, and talking to those who traveled from other states to celebrate with us. I’m especially appreciative of those for whom this was their second, third, or even fourth Juicy Brews. I also want to mention our generous sponsors — WestRock, Brew Movers, InTouch Labels, and Wine & Beer Supply — who made the event possible.
Last but not least, I want to thank the brewers that came or sent beer to the event, because they’re truly the ones who make the magic happen.
Barreled Souls Brewing Company
Birds Fly South Ale Project
Bond Brothers Beer Company
Charles Towne Fermentory
Commonwealth Brewing Company
Dancing Gnome Beer
Deciduous Brewing Company
Forest & Main Brewing Company
Fonta Flora Brewery
HopFly Brewing Company
Kings Brewing Company
Our Mutual Friend Brewery
Outer Range Brewing Co.
Resident Culture Brewing Company
Southern Grist Brewing Co
Triple Crossing Beer
Trophy Brewing Company
Zillicoah Beer Company
This crazy beer journey is just like Charlotte’s growth — new, fascinating, but really just beginning. And I have no doubt that both will continue to grow. I’m sure, when I’m sipping my Cloud Milk Foam Latte outside Caribou Coffee+ in twenty years, I’ll be able to reflect on how history has corroborated my thoughts.
Founder, Hop Culture