The wait for locally brewed spiked seltzer is almost over. Summit Seltzer Co. officially opens on Friday, September 18 in Wesley Heights across the street from Lucky Dog Bark & Brew.
At 3,880-square-feet, Summit will be the first spiked seltzer brewery and taproom on the East Coast. Similar to Charlotte’s dozens of breweries, owner Kristin Cagney and head brewer (seltzerer?) Ben Quinones make the craft seltzer in-house.
This is Cagney’s first business, and it’s been a challenging road from securing a loan in a relatively unknown industry to opening in the midst of a pandemic.
Then, just weeks before opening, Cagney had to change the name of the taproom because the term “seltzery” is trademarked by San Juan Seltzer in Seattle. Apparently there are some laws when you’re drinking claws.
But now that opening day is approaching, Cagney, 29, is focused on enjoying the ride. “We’re just trying to have fun here.”
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Here’s what you should know about Summit’s opening.
Reservation system: On Friday and Saturday for Summit’s first two weeks (September 18, 19, 25, and 26), it’ll operate on a reservations only system. These reservations will cost $15 per person and include two seltzers and a souvenir cup and koozie. On Sunday through Thursday, you don’t need a reservation. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 4-10 p.m.; Friday, 1-11 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Seltzer on tap: Summit will have six spiked seltzers on its opening menu, ranging in ABV from 4.9 to 7.5 percent. They’re all $5. Unlike White Claw and Truly, Summit’s seltzers aren’t clear. They’re colorful and often a little hazy because they use real ingredients like cucumber, lime, pineapple, and jalapeño. The names are playful like the Dry Hop WAP — a “Western Appalachian Pineapple” seltzer. All seltzers are about 100 calories or less.
- Base Camp I (4.9%) – tart lime.
- Cool As A … (4.9%) – cucumber forward with a lime finish.
- Chasing Sunsets (7.5%) – strong berry forward with a deep magenta color.
- “Toast to Charlotte” (7.5%) – acai, berry, slight chocolate flavor to finish. This drink is named in memory of Cagney’s late friend Charlotte. Proceeds will go to the local nonprofit Read Charlotte.
- Dry Hop WAP (5.1%) – pineapple, mango, strawberry.
- No Cap (5.1%) – jalapeño, green pepper, pineapple.
Non-alcoholic: If you want non-alcoholic seltzer, Summit has two flavors right now — grapefruit and lemon. You can get unlimited refills of either for $4.
Seltzer cocktails: Each seltzer cocktail ($9) contains a four-ounce base of Summit’s 14.5 percent ABV seltzer. Then there’s added mixers like ginger beer and lime juice. These will be “uniquely garnished,” Cagney says. “They’re way more than just club soda.” Seltzer cocktails are about 100-150 calories each.
- Cosmopolitan Seltzer – cranberry lime juice and orange.
- Seltzerita – comes in either strawberry or jalapeño.
- Seltzer Mule – ginger beer and lime.
- Seltzer Mojito – blackberries, cucumber, lime, and mint.
- Shirley Seltzer – like a Shirley Temple for adults.
There’s also draft beer ($6.50), wine ($8-$12), and a rotating food truck. The full menu is below.
Space: With nearly 4,000 square feet, Summit will have indoor and outdoor seating and an L-shaped bar. The taproom, which is located across the street from Lucky Dog Bark & Brew, will be dog friendly. The address is 2215 Thrift Road.
Summit has a minimalist feel, bright with natural light throughout and an exposed wood ceiling and accents of pink and blue. Tim Finein of Peadon Finein Architecture is behind the design.
When it is safe to do so, Summit will also offer a 750-square-foot events space for yoga and fitness classes, charity events, birthday parties, and silent disco parties.
Background: A few summers ago, Cagney was sitting by the pool with friends, sipping a spiked seltzer (remember those days?). She wasn’t sure where to go next in her career so jokingly she asked, What if I just open a seltzer company? The idea stuck.
Cagney quit her finance job in Colorado and moved to the Lake Norman area where her parents live,. She completed an MBA program at UNC Charlotte, where she designed the business plan for Summit Seltzer. While in school, Cagney worked at a handful of breweries and bars around Charlotte, including Sugar Creek and Primal Brewing.
Of all the jobs, she says, “My favorite job is bartending.”
Summit Seltzer is entirely family owned, Cagney says. That was important to her when starting the business. “I didn’t want to open at all if it wasn’t,” she says.