With city's blessing, more breweries plan to open in Charlotte

With city's blessing, more breweries plan to open in Charlotte

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by BORA KIM / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @BoraKimWCNC

WCNC.com

Posted on March 26, 2013 at 6:58 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 26 at 7:01 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- More micro-breweries may choose to open closer to town, in neighborhoods like Plaza Midwood and the South End.

Monday night, the city council approved the first part of a petition that would allow larger breweries to operate in certain areas of Charlotte.

Brad Shell has been leading that effort for eight months.

“It’s a dream we’ve been fighting for, and the city is helping us in our dream,” he said.

Shell plans to open 'The Unknown Brewery' by summer in the South End.  His Tuesday was filled with meetings, following the city council’s approval of the zoning text amendment.  He said this gives larger-scale breweries a chance to be part of the fabric of the community.

“Our goal is to have something that we can represent Charlotte and the state with and keep it small enough to keep the feel of it, and not be an eyesore plant in the middle of Charlotte,” he said.

Shell also added that a successful brewery must have room to grow.

“Part of that space is for the tap room for the community to be involved with.  You have to have that space to warehouse the product, space for the events, for the coolers, and to fit that in 5,000 square-feet is a very small shop,” he said.

The amendment will ultimately allow breweries up to 60,000 square-feet in size to operate in zones deemed “urban industrial.”  City council plans to look into the second part of the amendment -- which addresses expanding these zoning districts --  in May.

“By adding the urban industrial area, it is still industrial, but it gives them a little more range and more options,” said Daniel Hartis.

Hartis is the creator behind charlottebeer.com -- a blog chronicling events in the city’s ever-so-growing craft beer industry.  He is also the author of 'Charlotte Beer –- A History of Brewing in the Queen City.'

Charlotte’s brewing history may date back to the colonial times, but the area is experiencing a brewery boom.

Hartis said most micro-breweries closed their doors by the year 2000.  Almost 10 years later, with the success of establishments like the Old Mecklenburg Brewery, the public began to see a resurgence of such establishments.  Several businesses, including NoDa Brewing and Birdsong opened last year.  Triple C and Heist Brewery are among the newest to call Charlotte home.

Free Range Brewing is now looking to open a brewery along with a farm-to-table restaurant this year in Plaza Midwood.

“Lot of exciting beer and food that reflect the culture and the season around us,” explained Jason Alexander.

Alexander opened his home to NBC Charlotte to show how he crafts his beer.  He concocts an array of flavors in his kitchen and even grows his own hops in the backyard.  He and his partner, his brother, have garnered a devout following among beer-enthusiasts.

Free Range Brewery will open its doors in a few months.  Alexander said the passing of the amendments shows the city’s support behind business owners.  He welcomes the competition it may bring someday.

“Beer, like a lot of things, are social things you share.  Sharing with the people is part of it and is the ultimate part of competition in a good manner,” he said.

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