When we first moved to South End in Charlotte, we noticed something about the nightlife. The majority of the bars are filled with fresh out of college 20-somethings and finance bros. Looking around one night, I thought to myself, am I officially too old and too married to go to the bars anymore? Is 27 the new 40? And then we discovered where all of the newlywed hipsters hang out: the breweries.
Breweries combine a few of my favorite things: outdoor drinking, casual dress codes, and puppies. Yes, people are allowed to bring their dogs and their children to the breweries – and they do. One day we even saw a child’s birthday party taking place at one of the picnic tables. (Coolest. parents. ever.) There was only one problem with the breweries: I don’t like beer.
Let me clarify. I don’t like dark beers. My beer drinking is pretty much limited to Miller Lite, Miller High Life, and Angry Orchard hard cider. But craft beers are an inherent part of the Charlotte culture, extending from my social life to my work life and client dinners. I quickly realized I needed a crash course in craft beer 101 so I could order without asking the waitress, “What’s the fruitiest beer you have?”
So we began making brewery pit stops on our evening walks with Rufio, our bichpoo. Full disclosure: I still order the fruitiest beer on the menu, and by that, I literally mean beers with fruit in the name (blueberry is my favorite). When there’s no fruit, I go for the second best thing: a cider. No cider? A pilsner is usually a safe bet, or I just go for the beer with the lowest alcohol content.
And with that, I can now successfully navigate the Charlotte craft beer scene (in the most basic way possible). I’ve officially graduated from the college mentality of only drinking beer for the purpose of getting drunk. Now, there’s nothing I enjoy more than heading to a brewery on Friday evening with my husband and Rufio, and savoring a craft beer under the warm, Carolina sun.