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When Todd and Suzie Ford opened NoDa Brewing Co. in 2011, they located in the NoDa neighborhood because they felt a connection with Charlotte’s art district. Suzie often emphasizes the artistic side of brewing, likening the raw ingredients they work with – hops, barley, water and yeast – to an artist’s paints.
When they decided to build their second brewery at 2921 N. Tryon St., it wasn’t necessarily due to the charm of the surrounding neighborhood. The building is just a little more than a mile from the original location, but in some ways it feels a world away.
The scenery begins to change on the way from the original brewery to the new one. Gone are the bars, restaurants, coffee shops and galleries that call NoDa home, replaced with garages, auto body shops and small strip malls.
Ever the artists, the Fords see a blank canvas. They think their brewery, as well as other new businesses to come, can bring new life to the neighborhood.
“We’ve already seen that over here,” said Suzie Ford, who notes that others have already purchased nearby parcels. “The city has a vision for this area, officially calling it North End now. They’re really trying to develop it.
North End might not have the cachet of two neighborhoods with similar names, NoDa and South End, but it could one day. In addition to the city’s commitment to the area, one of the reasons the Fords and so many others are investing in North End is due to the light rail, which will eventually have a stop nearby at 36th and North Tryon streets. There are also plans to continue the Little Sugar Creek Greenway into the area.
But what the North Tryon building really offers – and what the Fords have so desperately needed in recent years – is space. At 32,000 square feet, it has almost three times the space of the original location. More importantly, the building’s ceiling is tall enough to support the new 240-barrel fermenters and brite tanks, which dwarf the 60-barrel tanks at the old facility.
The brewery has experienced rapid growth since opening in 2011, much of which can be attributed to its Hop, Drop ‘n Roll winning a gold medal at the World Beer Cup in 2014. That was shortly after the brewery started canning the beer, and they’ve struggled to keep up with demand ever since. A new canning line capable of 141 cans a minute will help them get more of that beer and their others to market.
“We would not be here, I don’t believe, if we had not won the medal,” said Suzie Ford. “We would have still been very busy, but I don’t think we would have had the need to build this facility yet.
No matter what the surrounding neighborhood is like, the Fords have taken great care to ensure the new building contains the same feel as the old one, while still retaining much of the building’s own character (it previously housed a roofing company, but before that was home to a vinegar plant).
Inside the taproom, bright green and orange walls provide some contrast against the old weathered white brick. The building’s original windows remain, giving the area plenty of natural light. Visitors can sit at the bar, made from the wood reclaimed from the second and third floors in what is now the brewhouse area, at church pews or in a lounge-style area with couches and coffee tables.
And yes, their artistic sensibilities are on full display at the new location. At the main entrance, a mural of a tulip glass greets visitors. Beside the bar, another mural features all of the brewery’s current employees (and brew dogs). And painted by the restrooms is the pair of hula dancers that graces the brewery’s cans of Coco Loco Porter.
See it all for yourself when the new brewery opens to the public on Thursday. That coincides with the brewery’s annual Pink Pint Night, in which they partner with Charlotte Radiology to raise money for Levine Cancer Institute’s Project Pink. The event will run from 4 to 8:30 p.m., with live music, food trucks and a special “pink beer.”
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▪ 2229 N. Davidson St. Hours: 1-6 p.m. Sundays; 4-8:30 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays; 4-9 p.m. Wednesdays; 4-9:30 p.m. Fridays; noon-10 p.m. Saturdays.
▪ 2921 N. Tryon St. Hours (starting Thursday): 4-8:30 p.m. weekdays, noon-10 p.m. Saturdays, 1-6 p.m. Sundays.