The greater-Charlotte area has been blessed with
several new breweries, but Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery (401 N. Tryon Street) is Uptown’s longest-standing source for fresh and original craft beer. Queen City Brewers Festival sat down with new head brewer Evan Carroll to become reacquainted with Rock Bottom, and catch up on what’s been happening at the center of craft beer in Charlotte.
Rock Bottom has locations from Seattle to Boston, but which beers are unique to Rock Bottom Charlotte and how do you go about deciding which beers to brew?
Well let’s start with our four staple beers; the light, pilsner, IPA and Brown. Then we have two rotating select beers and that’s where the creativity comes into play. I’ll call on our Mug Club, our knowledgeable staff, and of course my personal likes to a degree and decide which beers we’ll rotate throughout the year. I try maintaining an even balance of beer styles so that I’m appealing to what my customers are asking for. I first started home brewing the beers that I found myself buying the most. It’s the same philosophy here; what are my best customers are asking for? I brew based on that kind of feedback and it’s a system that really works for everyone.
What should Charlotte craft beer drinkers know about Rock Bottom that they may not be aware of?
You know, it’s funny. What I hear most often is that people have been to another Rock Bottom, but they’ve never actually tried the food or beer at the Charlotte location. What people may not realize is that the beer lineup is constantly changing and growing so you can’t say you’ve been once and know everything we have on tap. I try rolling out a new beer every month. Sometimes it may be two or three [of our select beers] in a shorter period of time or it could be a slightly longer run for some beers. But even our staple beers are new recipes with different ingredients. So if you enjoy good, fresh beer, great food and haven’t been to a Rock Bottom in a while you should definitely come in and visit us.
How do your menu and beer offerings work together and do you have special events that pair food & beer together?
Yes, we’ll have between two and four special brewers dinners a year and they are very well attended. I’ll get together with our executive chef to create the menu based on our staple and seasonal offerings at the time. To name a few, our next event will feature our lobster lasagna in a spicy white sauce paired with our pilsner, and we have an awesome carpaccio paired with a Scottish Ale. These events really showcase the food side of the brewpub and it shows our customers how our beers complement the food.
How did you get started in the brewing industry?
When I turned 21 I got my first home brewing kit and totally got hooked on brewing. While I was working on my Masters Degree in Florida, I realized I wasn’t going down a path I really enjoyed so I went back to school at the American Brewers Guild. It was through an interview for an internship of all things at Big River at Disney that got my foot in the door. Before Rock Bottom, that was my first and only job in the craft beer industry going back to 2004.
What’s your favorite style of beer?
I’ve always been big into Pale Ales and IPAs. The Pale Ale I brewed for Big River will be one of the next select beers I do here and that’s a treat since it’s the one I really enjoy most. Lately, I’ve found myself on a Southern Tier kick and really like their Pale Ale and 2XIPA. We’re seeing a trend of beers getting bigger and bigger, which is great for certain occasions, but a flavorful American Pale Ale is what I like best.