The OG Taproom Grand (re)Opening
May 15, 2019
By Melissa Oyler for CharlotteFive
When NoDa Brewing Co. employees escorted the last guests from the taproom’s original location in July 2016, it would be three years before the public would be able to walk back in for a beer.
The lack of parking had become a real challenge for the space. Its across-the-street lot was being converted into apartments, so something had to give, at least for a little while. Yet, the brewery’s co-owner, Suzie Ford, knew that by closing the taproom, she was locking away years of memories — this space had served as a marker of NoDa’s place as a pioneer in craft brewing.
In 2011, NoDa Brewing opened North Davidson Street’s first taproom. Birdsong Brewing moved in next door a couple of months later; its current location remains down the street.
On the same street now are Free Range Brewing, Heist Brewery, Salud, Divine Barrel Brewing, Bold Missy Brewery and soon-to-be Wooden Robot Brewery‘s new location.
NoDa Brewing was the first Charlotte brewery to release a new beer each week. It was the first in town to can its own beers. It was the first local brewery to win a World Beer Cup, taking home a gold medal for Hop, Drop ‘n Roll in 2014.
In 2016, while guests temporarily relocated to the new and bigger taproom 1.2 miles away at 2921 N. Tryon Street, the original location at 2229 N. Davidson continued to serve as a space for brewers to create and age NoDa’s sours, as well as some other barrel aged non-sour beer, called “clean” beer.
Aside from a few events here and there, including Queens Feast, the taproom remained closed to the public.
Finally, on May 17 after a makeover, the original space will reopen to beer drinkers once again. In addition to the new/old taproom space, the North Davidson spot will specialize in their sour program called “Boba Brett’s Sour Project”.
“Oh my gosh, we are so excited,” Ford told CharlotteFive. “As I wrote the Facebook event, I got a little tear in my eye because that’s where it all started. The craziest thing is that sometimes it just seems like yesterday we opened our doors, and others, it seems like forever ago because I can’t really remember a time the brewery wasn’t part of our life. It’s a great feeling.”
Chop & Chisel meals will be offered, plus Rhino Market & Deli will be open across the street, Ford said.
Parking remains the biggest challenge for the brewery’s space. Yet, the apartments that led them to close the place are almost finished — now, all of those units translate into potential customers. A couple of other apartments in easy walking distance are also in final stages of construction, Ford said. “So we figured the time was right.”
For those not lucky enough to walk to the new/old taproom, Ford suggested other forms of transportation: Lyft, Uber, scooters and the light rail (25th Street Station is a .6 mile walk and Parkwood Station, .7 mile). “Hopefully everyone remembers that when coming to visit, we are going to have the same challenges as they do in other neighborhoods. If everyone parks properly, we have about 15 parking spots on-site — so that’s a good start and more than many businesses have,” she said.
Something to keep in mind: Lyft has a new partnership with the Charlotte Independent Brewers Alliance. If you take a Lyft to a participating brewery — including NoDa Brewing — and show the bartender your receipt, you’ll get a code for half off of your ride home.
Run, sweat, beer, repeat
NoDa was also the first brewery in Charlotte to host a run club. On any given Wednesday after May 2012, hundreds of sweaty runners would pack into the taproom and its surrounding outdoor digs, recovering with a cold one and cursing the notoriously hilly route — and still doing it all over again the next week.
The run club will live on at the North Tryon location, said run club leader Carla Garrison-Mattos. “Although the old routes are nostalgic, the run club is so large that the North End taproom simply accommodates our parking and hangout space needs better than the OG can,” she said.
The close proximity of the two locations just begs for a run challenge between the two spaces, Garrison-Mattos said. “Runners can start at one location, grab a beer, and run to the other taproom anytime they want.” That actually could be a fun plan for special run club events, she said — so lace up.
What’s more Charlotte than finding love at a brewery?
The taproom also hosted plenty of first dates, with some of them actually turning into Queen City-style fairy tales.
On a recent Instagram story, NoDa Brewery took a poll with romantic results: Five couples who had their first date at the original taproom responded they are now married, and 15 couples responded they are still dating each other. “Warms my heart that people are in love with that location, as we are. After all, it was the second tap room in Charlotte — so I guess it makes sense that people would have some cool memories,” Ford said.
Ashley Appell and Jacob Fehl met in January 2015 through co-workers. Appell had recently moved to Charlotte from California and had never been to a brewery, so Fehl knew just where he wanted to take her when he asked her if he could show her around Charlotte. “I chose NoDa for their variety of beer options and how knowledgeable the staff is on the products they offer. I was nervous when she actually agreed to hang out and also figured a brewery would be the perfect place to break the awkward first date jitters,” Fehl said.
Appell’s first brewery drink was a flight of NoDa’s beers, and she must have liked what she’d seen — in both Fehl and the craft beer scene. “We actually made it an adventure over the next few years to try and visit as many breweries in Charlotte as possible — and still continue to go every weekend,” Fehl said.
The wedding is in June. When the couple scheduled a date to get their marriage licence, they just happened to pick May 17 — which would later be announced as the day the taproom reopens. “When NoDa posted the picture about the OG location, we freaked out with excitement,” Fehl said.
It’s like it was meant to be.