Living in Charlottesville, Rob and I have gotten our share of winery visits (which I love). But visiting my parents in Charlotte, NC gave us an opportunity to join them for an afternoon at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, located south of uptown.
In March 2009 Charlotte’s only brewery (at the time) opened its doors, and it is now North Carolina’s largest brewery. Free tours run on Fridays at 6:00pm and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00pm. The first time we visited, we went on a tour that was far more informative than any other brewery tour I’d been on. However, I think Olde Meck can describe their beer philosophy best:
Simple: NO SHORTCUTS!
Premium quality beer requires premium quality ingredients. OMB therefore decided early on that it would adhere to the oldest beer purity law in the world (the world famous German “Reinheitsgebot”). This law says that there can be only four ingredients in beer (Barley or wheat malt, hops, yeast and pure water). We do not and will never cheapen our beer with inferior ingredients like corn or rice that lower the cost but ruin the flavor, head and body of the beer.
Premium beer also requires intensive, costly brewing methods. Trouble is, it takes time (and costs money) so many brewers take the easy road. But if the malt starches and proteins are not converted just right, the beer simply won’t be as good. OMB is committed to making only the best beer possible. We will not take shortcuts in the brewing process that save time and money but result in unbalanced, watery beers lacking in flavor, body or aroma.
Finally, all OMB beers are lagered (cold conditioned) on the yeast after primary fermentation. This process requires expensive storage (lager) tanks which have to be kept cold (around 32 F) year round. However, the results are worth it. The difference between a beer just after primary fermentation and one that’s been lagered for three weeks is enormous.
The beer hall (made to feel like an authentic German bierhall) is large and open, with long tables that you can fill with lots of friends and family, and there is also ample outdoor seating with a fire pit and fun atmosphere.
We tried the beer sampler to get a small taste of several beers, but I enjoyed the majority of the beers offered. I think my favorites were Copper and Captain Jack. Olde Meck also has a full menu of food, though we filled up with the soft German pretzel with beer cheese – not to be missed!
If you’re ever in or around Charlotte, be sure to check out The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery!