Thank You from ACEing Autism

We hope all who attended Queen City Brewers Festival 2014 had a blast.  Judging from these smiling faces, we feel safe saying you did!  With a new venue that provided enough space to host our beloved Charlotte breweries, local beverage exhibitors, artists, sponsors and a select group of craft beer-centric restaurants, we were confident each tasting session would be a success.  We’d also like to recognize our hardworking volunteers (including a number of members of the Carolina BrewMasters) and the guys at Zali Presents for their expertise behind the scenes.  To all those in attendance, we would like to say. . . 

THANKYOU_DDBecause of your support, ACEing Autism-Charlotte programming will launch on March 1 at Alexander Street Park near Uptown.  Please visit the Charlotte program page if you would like to learn more about clinics, how to become a volunteer or instructor and/or to make a donation.

Lastly, congratulations to our raffle prize winners.  We had close to 400 entries and are so appreciative of the generous contributions from our sponsors, breweries, exhibitors and partners.  Hard to argue there was a more exciting moment than when the winners were announced!

QCBF14 - 091(Photo credit Tom Henderson Photography)

Stay tuned for upcoming profiles on The Unknown Brewing Co. as well as the famous Bulldog Beer and Wine.  And before you know it, we’ll be getting you ready for next year’s QCBF:  January 31, 2015.  Cheers!

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Get to know D9 Brewing Co.

“District 9 is rising up for craft beer.”  Brewer and owner Aaron Burton recalls the slogan he and fellow brewers/owners Andrew Durstewitz and John Ashcraft joked about for their brewery. The area of North Carolina where D9 Brewing Company is located is indeed called District 9, but the name District 9 also draws influence from District 9 the movie, the Hunger Games and 1984 to name a few.  The common theme among those works is people coming together to rise up against oppression.  While there isn’t a great deal of oppression in the Cornelius area of North Carolina, it’s the sense of community and beer as a culture that gives meaning to the D9 Brewing Company name.

We sat down with Andrew Durstewitz and Aaron Burton in none other than North Carolina’s District 9 (Duckworth’s – Huntersville to be exact) to get to know more about their brewery and mission.  They’ll make their festival debut at ACEing Autism’s Queen City Brewers Festival in just over two weeks.


Your launch party on Nov. 9 had incredible support with a line in the hundreds.  To what do you attribute D9’s eager fan base considering you ramped up so quickly?

Andrew:  Our launch event was tremendous.  We counted 325 thirsty and patient visitors.  One person showed us the timer he set on his phone which turned out to be more than a 40 minute wait.  I did the math the next day and we ended up pouring one beer every 30 seconds for four hours.  And I sure felt it the next day too, who knew pouring beer was such a workout [laughing]!

We love the community component of making interesting, quality beer, and that started with brew sessions at my house.  Our family, friends, friends with kids, other home brewers; they all came together with beer as the common connection.  Even though it’s a little harder to capture that essence being in an industrial park, we think it’s those roots that have rubbed off on people, and that has us off to a successful start. We really love how beer brings people and communities together.  That really is our purpose; to brew outstanding beer that unites people.

What was the signifying moment when you realized you were ready to turn homebrewing into a commercial venture? 

Aaron:  Well, there was both that single moment where we knew it was going to happen, but it was also like a rolling boulder picking up more and more speed.  It was very evident we needed to do something after we built a cold room in Andrew’s garage.

Andrew:  As soon as we bought a 1-barrel system – which took me and John about a year to finally pull the trigger – we knew that commercial scale brewing was part of our future.  It was at that point that Aaron officially came on board and we had our team set.  Equipment aside, it was also a big jump for the three of us from a friendship standpoint.  We’ve been good friends for over a decade, and now we had to ask what we could expect from one another on a business level.  So it was pretty scary and stressful to go through with it, but we also absolutely love every minute of it.

D9 guys

 A beer‘s name is so key these days. How do you arrive at your brews’ names?

Andrew:  The themes come from the struggles people have in the world.  If we can enrich the lives of people and be a grassroots organization, to us, we’re making a positive impact and hopefully leaving the world a better place.  The Battle Hymn [Black IPA] is that moment when a soldier steps forward to do something righteous.  And if you notice the artwork for this beer, you’ll see the soldier battling smokestacks, alluding to the taking down of a corporate enemy.  We try not to go overboard with beer names, but as with everything we do, we want to reinforce our commitment to the well-being of the people, and a movement to a positive community.

What led you to D9’s nondescript home in a Cornelius commercial strip?

Aaron:  It was going to be Davidson or Cornelius, and Cornelius has been incredibly welcoming toward us.

Andrew:  The lake-area is where we all live too so going back to the brew sessions I hosted, we wanted our brewery to be an extension of our backyard.

What is your ideal size brewery?

Andrew:  Culture comes before size, so it has to be large enough and small enough to serve everyone in our community.  From a financing standpoint, we’re looking at a 10-barrel system.  There’s a lot you can do scaling-wise and there’s little complexity so we won’t have to rely on designers or architects compared to a much larger system.

My dream is to have a setup with some live music where families with kids and pets can come together by day, and by night it’s adults having a good time.  To put it in perspective, at Avery Brewing in Colorado, you’ll see picnic tables outside, kids running around and dogs everywhere; at Lagunitas Brewing they have an amphitheater with sod around it and regularly have three and four-piece bands playing.  So if you combine the culture of an Avery with the setup of Lagunitas and serve D9 beers, that’s exactly what I’m envisioning for the amazing people in our community.

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QCBF 2014 Ticket Announcement

That time of year is BACK and QCBF tickets are on sale NOW.  We are so appreciative of the support QCBF has received since the inaugural festival back in 2012 that the upcoming event has grown to a new site:  the Silver Hammer Studios at the NC Music Factory (817 Hamilton Street, 28206).  Also new in 2014 is the festival’s host, ACEing Autismand our partnership will help bring programming to Charlotte.


As for event day, please welcome newcomers The Unknown Brewing Co., and District 9 Brewing Company to the breweries lineup as well as several of your favorite craft beer-centric establishments, which you can view on our exhibitors page.  We can’t wait to have so many friends on hand to greet you come Feb. 1st!

We are also thrilled to announce that as part of our partnership with Earthspun® Apparel, the first 100 ticket orders will receive a FREE Beer Bottle Brown® t-shirt, so please be sure to indicate your shirt size on the checkout form.  T-shirts will be picked up at the Earthspun® Apparel table at the festival.  Take a look!!


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Two Tasting Sessions:

1 – 4pm

6 – 9pm

Tickets are $35 per session

Buy Tickets

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5 Good Questions with Good Bottle Co.

Good Bottle Co. is exactly what you would expect out of a bottle shop, except any guest would argue that the beers Chris Hunt purveys are not just good, they’re excellent.  From its sleek and strategic design, to its black and white draft list (with accompanying map for the geography buff in all of us), Good Bottle Co. does a very good job of providing its customers a wide selection of local, regional and national craft beers.

We traded Q’s for A’s with owner Chris Hunt and can’t wait to welcome his Good-ness to Queen City Brewers Festival in just a couple more months.

1.)  You’re an Asheville native, a perennial Beer City USA winner and favorite.  How did you end up in Charlotte, and was Good Bottle Co. always in your plans here?

No, actually we moved to Charlotte in 2001 for work.  When we moved from Asheville it was still very early as far as craft beer was concerned.  I’ve always enjoyed good beer, but had no idea what was to become of the beer scene in Charlotte.  As I traveled for work I began seeing places in Atlanta and Raleigh popping up and the beer scenes in both cities beginning to grow.  I began noticing that South End was a great hub for craft beer but felt it really needed a true craft beer centric store.  We felt that being a part of the growth and education of craft beer in Charlotte was a key ingredient to the success of our store.  It’s great to see customers who just six months ago wouldn’t even smell an IPA and now they are asking which hops were used in the beer they are currently drinking.

2.)  Good Bottle Co. has a unique look and layout as compared to other craft beer stores in the area.  What was your goal with this approach?

We wanted it be be unique, inviting and relaxing.  I knew that one thing that would grow craft beer in Charlotte was a place where people wanted to hang out, drink good beer, ask questions. We feel that we are a store first, bar second and that has been consistent since day one.


3.)  Craft beer has experienced amazing growth across the country the last 10 or so years, that’s especially true in North Carolina and more recently here in Charlotte.  How do you balance local and regional offerings with beers from outside the area?

For us we have always focused on local, regional and national in that order.  I think having local beer is key because that is a big part of any craft beer culture.  When people travel, they look for local beer.  When people have friends and family in town they want to show them local spots and drink local beer, so it is important for us to have as many local options as possible to truly highlight and support the local CLT beer scene.

4.)  Your store is a welcome and visible sight for any beer-lover traveling down South Blvd.  What do your customers have for food options while enjoying a bottle, can or draft beer on-site? 

Penn Station next door is like having a food truck without wheels every day.  Several times a day we see (and smell) hot Philly cheese steaks, sandwiches and great french fries at the bar.  We encourage people to bring or order food while they are here.  Mac’s is always a good option as well.

5.)  Clearly you have hundreds of breweries and their respective offerings at your fingertips.  What’s Good Bottle’s “house beer”? 

Most of the local breweries could be classified as our house beer.  We have poured more Capt Jack from Olde Meck than anything.  It’s often our Father In Law Tap (lightest/least hoppyest beer). Some beers that I am enjoying right now include Lonerider’s Pistols at Dawn Stout and the IGOR bbl Russian Imperial Stout from Fullsteam.

Bonus question:  If you could feature any beer in the world on draft, what would it be, why and (aside from yourself) who would get the first pour? Troegs Nugget Nectar. It’s an Imperial Red with a perfect balance of big malt and big hop flavors.  First pour would have to go to one of our investors Scot because he usually hand delivers me a case each and every year.

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Salud Beer Shop and Three Amigos Spice Up Charlotte’s Beer Scene

There is a family connection that spans NoDa’s arts district and the Central Avenue corridor, and for fans of craft beer and Mexican fare, they can thank brothers-in-law Jason Glunt of Salud Beer Shopand Dalton Espaillat of Three Amigos Mexican Grill and Cantina for bringing these two incredible worlds together.  While Salud has been serving the NoDa-area world-class craft beer since March of last year, it’s been Jason’s influence over that same time span that Three Amigos has significantly upped its craft offerings.

“It’s pretty simple,” explained Dalton. “Craft beer can pair well with any style of fresh, authentic food. You can enjoy the best of both worlds at Three Amigos.”

Queen City Brewers Festival grabbed a corner booth with the bros, and we’re thrilled to welcome this unique duo to the 2014 festival lineup.

QCBF:  Jason, thank you for providing NoDa a proper craft beer store.  Give us one highlight from your first year and a half in business.

Jason:  It’s really been an ongoing highlight and that is thanks to my very supportive customers.  I think it’s been the evolution of craft beer drinkers that has been so enjoyable to watch.  Seeing them transition from lagers and pilsners to hearty stouts, super hoppy IPAs and Belgian saisons; that is what makes it fun.

QCBF:  Dalton, as a restaurant owner, how has the rise of craft beer benefited your business, and how do you communicate to the public that Three Amigos offers quality craft beer?

Dalton: That’s the beauty of our close-knit craft beer community.  The message is getting out there organically, and among the craft beer audience specifically, I’m seeing more and more repeat business.  Loyalty is so important to a restaurant so I ask that my customers keep the FourSquare and Untappd check-ins coming because it’s putting us on the map.  But I’m noticing too that food sales are up as a result of offering craft beer.  For instance, Tuesday’s we offer all craft beers half-off, often times at cost, because it’s important to introduce your typical Corona drinker to something with a lot more flavor – like a mole stout.  Our two taps predominantly feature local beers like Birdsong’s Jalapeno Pale Ale and NoDa’s Ramble on Red.  We move those kegs in and out pretty quickly so it’s clear local beer pairs well with our menu items.

QCBF:  Jason, how did you come up with Sourfest and why is it important to Charlotte’s craft beer culture?

Well, it starts with me and I like sours [laughs].  It’s not that sours are popular all of a sudden so we’re jumping on the cool train to throw a festival around it.  It really comes down to my personal taste; the history and the process of making sours which I feel is unique and compelling enough for this beer category to have its own annual event.  What’s really cool is that there are a number of NC breweries dabbling in this style so we’re excited to have them on hand.  Overall, it is a niche event, but that’s important because it shows that Charlotte’s craft beer audience is progressing and becoming more educated about different beer styles.  Who knows, maybe we’ll see barrel-aged beer festival down the road.

QCBF:  How do you feel about the proposed growler-filling laws changing and what can your customers expect?

Jason:  to be honest I’m on the fence about it.  I’m already tight on space so there’s little I can do for up-fitting like adding a sink or storing growlers that is even possible.  Plus, I’m rotating a lineup of rare beers – many times they’re gone the same day – so it just wouldn’t be right to fill a couple growlers for one customer at the expense of say a half-dozen customers that would like to try a particular beer.  Bottom line, I want to do right by the breweries and if we find that there’s equipment or sanitation materials we can’t provide to properly fill growlers, then we won’t do it.  But it’s a work in progress so we’ll see how this plays out.

Dalton:  I was going to go for it until Jason just convinced me otherwise! [laughs]


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