In the past few years, we’ve seen rapid changes in the Charlotte brewing scene; odd, considering that seven years ago there wasn’t even one of which to speak. Breweries have opened like weeds, many have expanded. A select few have moved into larger facilities, and one of them has even closed.
NoDa Brewing Company is about to have the distinction of being the first Charlotte brewery to open a new facility while keeping the original site operational.
The new NoDa location (2921 N. Tryon St.) sits just over a mile away from their current location, but will allow for a dramatic expansion ability.
The building has been many things over the years, the way brewery buildings in Charlotte tend to be.
For much of its life, it was a vinegar manufacturing facility. Fitting, as Prohibition caused the vinegar industry to spring to life, with alcoholic beverage manufacturers sending their wares through a second fermentation process to convert alcohol to acetic acid.
Vinegar manufacturers Speas, Heinz, and Fleischmann’s all called it home over the years, with recent history finding it hosting a roofing company.
Back in April, media and friends were guided through the facility, before construction had begun. The September/October timeframe was provided as an end date for the renovation work, causing a few skeptical murmurs through the crowd. After all, a giant vat occupied much of the brewhouse area, large enough to park school buses inside (yes, plural).
I hadn’t seen the facility since that day five months ago, but they’ve come a long way in the interim.
For starters, that vat is no more, deemed a potential death trap. As carbon dioxide is heavier than air, there was concern that said gas could fill that area and turn it into a suffocation pit. For 10 days, it was filled in with dirt and tamped down, rinse and repeat. After a sturdy concrete floor was finally poured, the area now houses two gargantuan 240-barrel Brite tanks.
The rest of the brewhouse area similarly underwent a massive facelift. A century’s worth of crud was cleaned off the steel support beams before they received a fresh coat of orange paint. Drainage trenches were cut through floors, an existing second-floor catwalk around the perimeter was removed, a giant bay door was cut to allow tanks to be brought in…
Let’s talk tanks.
The new brewhouse is a whopping 60 barrels huge, four times the size of the one currently utilized in their original home.
The mash tun, separate lauter tun, boil kettle, whirlpool, and hopback are all clustered in the far end of the building, surrounding a slip-proof platform large enough to house a decent dance party. Much of the process will now be automated. Valves that must manually be opened now will instead be pneumatically operated. Say goodbye to the grueling task of spent grain removal as well; currently manually removed at the original facility, it will instead be pumped to a waiting hopper outside capable of holding 1,750 cubic feet of mush.
No more feeding a plethora of individual bags of grain through the mill either; a pair of silos sit between the building and North Tryon, each containing 72,000 pounds of the two most-utilized malt varieties. Sure, some bags will still be fed through a second mill, but it’s a far cry from current operations.
Four 240-barrel fermenters are currently set up, with room for more.
Fun fact: When NoDa opened four years ago, the capacity of all their fermenters combined was but 75 barrels (two 30 and one 15). Several more fermenters will be brought over from the original location; specifically, six of their 60-barrel units.
That’s right, there’s still serious work to be done at their current home (2229 N. Davidson St.).
The current 15-barrel brewhouse will remain in operation, feeding the remaining three of the 60-barrel fermenters, four 30s, and a solitary 15. Don’t expect any more Hop Drop ‘n Roll from here, as all flagship brewing will shift. Instead, a new sour- and barrel-aged beer program will be instituted. I’m excited to see what concoctions head brewer Chad Henderson and crew will whip up.
Don’t expect the similar hours at the existing NoDa facility, however. It’ll still play host to the popular weekly NoDa Run Club on Wednesdays, but the taproom hours will otherwise be limited to busier days such as Fridays, Saturdays and certain holidays. The new facility will be NoDa Brewing’s crown jewel, and will maintain their existing hours of operation.
The new canning line is on serious steroids.
The former operation handles 32 cans per minute; that’s getting beefed up substantially to 141 cans. It’s a largely automated process as well: Each can will be rinsed, purged, filled, sealed, flipped, dated, flipped, dried, weighed, corralled, capped and placed into cases with fewer hands involved than currently.
Our new canning line is here and being installed! Here’s to more delicious #CLTbeer!! 🍻 A photo posted by NoDa Brewing (@nodabrewing) on
Last but not least, my tour ends where most folks’ begins: the taproom.
The main bar area is larger, and there’s double the capacity for patrons. A side bar will handle both inside and patio drinkers. Drink rails run throughout, and a bay door can roll up to allow for easy passage between inside and out.
NoDa Brewing has set a grand opening date of October 1. Treated as a kick-off for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, proceeds from this event will benefit Levine Cancer Institute’s Project Pink. We’ll have more information and presumably a follow-up piece as that date nears.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been but four years since a plucky startup brewery opened its doors to the NoDa community. Since then, they’ve rocketed their production to become one of the larger brewers in the state. On October 1, make plans to come by the new facility and sip “the beer on everyone’s lips.”