My girlfriend somehow convinced me to drive down I-85 last weekend for the “Stranger Things” party at Cavendish Brewing Company — Gastonia’s only brewery.
My initial response was a hard pass.
Why would I waste a whole Saturday to drive out to Gastonia and drink when I could drink in the comfort of my own city limits?
And what would a Gastonia brewery even be like? Would people bring cows instead of dogs? Would the cornhole boards use actual ears of corn?
But like all disagreements we have, my girlfriend won this one.
What I discovered was that Gastonia might only have one brewery, but it’s pretty dope.
Cavendish is a nerd-friendly spot with some of the wildest brews you’ve tasted in awhile, that sweet spot of aesthetics and great brews that can keep you at a joint all day. We spent about six hours at Cavendish, and I’m here to let you know it’s worth the 34-minute drive from Charlotte to check it out.
But let me give you some training wheels. Here are five things you should do your first time at Cavendish Brewing Company.
1) Plan around the monthly nerd nights.
These cats did not take it easy on their “Stranger Things” gimmick. They hung Christmas lights up above the alphabet on the wall, served up a themed session IPA, and taped up more MISSING posters for Barb than any of the characters on the actual show.
Cavendish throws these nerd parties once a month. They’ve done themes like Star Wars and Game of Thrones, which are entry-level in the nerd universe, but I appreciate that they’re not trying to get all pretentious about it.
I wouldn’t want to go to anything themed around stuff self-proclaimed “real nerds” enjoy, which seems to be LEGO, Reddit, and men’s rights.
2) Get a flight.
Everybody wants to drink craft beer, but nobody wants to drink craft beer. By that I mean a ton of breweries are getting mad hype off of characterless flavors. I will pay a buffalo nickel to anyone who can explain to me the difference between Triple C’s Golden Boy and Sycamore’s Southern Blonde.
Cavendish’s brews are for beer drinkers who actually like beer. Every bevvy I tried commanded a bold flavor profile, unlike some Charlotte breweries who seem afraid to create anything that anyone might dislike.
The Ave Maria IPA has a fun little bite, the Social Lubrication blonde ale is malty, and their Chester Street porter sips smooth enough to be a patio beer. At no point did I feel as if I was having my intelligence insulted or my palette under-pampered. The brewers at Cavendish put time and effort into creating unique, dynamic profiles. Other breweries need to take note.
3) Drag your friends here.
We could not convince anyone to head to Gastonia with us. No one. Hopefully you have better friends than we do and can convince them to make the trip. Bribe them. Guilt-trip them. Whatever it takes. Because Cavendish is the kind of brewery where there’s just enough gaga to keep everyone entertained for an entire day while still keeping the focus on social interaction.
We all honestly need more of that.
One group there played Cards Against Humanity for like three hours straight. Do you know how hard it is to play Cards Against Humanity for even 40 minutes before it becomes boring? The whole thing reminded me of the promise of brewery culture in the first place, that beer was going to bring us all together, not just get us drunk enough to not notice how bored we were.
4) Chill in Corner Bohemia.
The back right corner of Cavendish features distressed brick, some ratty looking couches and classic video games. It’s basically the exact kind of apartment a lot of us bohemian types wish we could afford to live in. It just screams “I work at a comic book shop and drive Uber one week per month to make rent and pay for studio time for my freak folk band.”
Anyone else suddenly feel like a sellout?
Kick your feet up on the table and play some Frogger. You’re never going to want to get off that couch. Just give me an air mattress on the floor and let me live in that corner, please.
5) Bring that dude who hates craft beer and make him take the Bud Light challenge.
I really loved this part. Apparently some of the dudes in Gastonia don’t really know what a brewery is, so they’d show up and order a Bud Light. Some of them would even leave when they were told Cavendish didn’t carry it.
The mad lads at the helm of Cavendish decided to steer into the skid and actually sell Bud Light, but only on one condition: You have to try one of their craft beers too. It’s called the Bud Light Challenge, and it’s creating new craft beer fans in Gastonia.
I heard one story about a guy who accidentally ordered a sour with his Bud Light. A sour! The philosophical antithesis of a Bud Light! But homeboy apparently liked it so much, he ordered four more sours that night. Can you imagine going from Bud Light to four sours in one night? Cavendish Brewing is a miracle worker.