Wrapping up the end of our second month of traveling on Friday, 2/28/14 was a trip to Triple C Brewing in Charlotte, NC. Chris Harker, one of the owners, had reached out to us back in January after finding our blog, so we made sure to make time to visit them. He greeted us as soon as we walked in the door and proceeded to show us around the 20,000 sq ft facility while we all enjoyed some laughs over pints of Triple C beer.
Chris was born overseas in Zimbabwe and then, after spending some time living in England and Belgium, moved to North Carolina. Scott Kimball, owner and head brewer at Triple C, worked at both Old Dominion & Fordham in Delaware as well as The Eddyline Brewpub in Colorado before getting hired on as the brewer for Triple C. The dog-friendly facility had their Grand Opening back in August of 2012, with four beers available from the start: Light Rail Pale Ale, Smoked Amber, Greenway IPA, and Baby Maker Double IPA. Smoked Amber was actually the first one they brewed using cherry wood, which is an unusual style for a brewery to start out with; they now also sometimes offer this barrel-aged in Maker’s Mark. The Light Rail Pale Ale got is named from the convenient light rail that passes right by the brewery and ends at the Bank of America Stadium, where the Carolina Panthers play. On their website, it says “Just as Greenways are a natural escape from a city, take a break from the chaos of life to enjoy a fine IPA,” as a fitting description for their Greenway IPA. Lastly, the Baby Maker IPA was termed based on the fact that the first batch was brewed on the same day that the son of one of the previous Triple C partners was born; fans of Triple C love the name and so do I. All four of the beers mentioned above are offered year-round, as well as their Golden Boy Ale and Road to Nowhere Porter.
Triple C splits up their repertoire into 4 separate series. ‘C series’ is the first tier which includes session brews meant to be refreshing & easy drinking, such as the Light Rail Pale Ale and Golden Boy. The second tier, known as ‘CC series,’ is their main line of beers like the Smoked Amber, Greenway IPA, and Road to Nowhere Porter. My personal favorite series of theirs is the ‘CCC series,’ which includes high ABV and barrel-aged brews, such as the Baby Maker Double IPA and 3C IPA. The 3C IPA is one of their most popular offerings and, since it contains Citra, Centennial and Chinook hops, packs a dominant citrus/ grapefruit/ passionfruit taste and smell; this is their second highest seller, falling only behind the Golden Boy. Finally, they offer seasonal (or ‘C-sonal’) brews throughout the year. Some examples of ‘C-sonal’ beers are as follows: a Black IPA, a Spring Saison known as Sal’s Paradise with Sorachi Ace hops, a Hefewiezen in the summer, and the Cajun Stout which contains Fresno chili peppers to give it a mild and roasty pepper bite to it. They also have a 10% breakfast porter called Up All Night that contains honey, lactose, and locally roasted coffee from Magnolia Coffee in town; this one sells out very quickly and is also offered in a Maker’s Mark barrel-aged version.
Not too long ago they held a homebrew competition and there were about 70 entries. One of their regulars, Carson Warstler, ended up winning, so they brewed his rye double IPA and released it this past Tuesday, March 11. Chris also told us about another beer they brewed the day we visited which will be named ‘The Dude Imbibes’ and, in-line with The Big Lebowski, is a big chocolate stout that they age on vanilla beans, cloves, and Kahlua soaked wood chips in order to give it the flavor of a White Russian. They had also just taken the Imperial Amber out of their Maker’s Mark barrels, so that they can use the barrels one more time to age and dry-hop their 100th batch / 200th brew, Comin’ in Hops – an 11.5% Imperial IPA dry hopped with Amarillo & Citra after utilizing Centennial in the boil.
Originally they started with four 30bbl fermenters and two 30bbl brite tanks, but they clearly like mixing it up and are now ready to expand their offerings. They just got some new fermenters and have a couple more on the way to help with that expansion. There is quite of bit of extra space still, so they hold charity events, dog shows, yoga, and have bands perform on a stage they built inside. Let’s backtrack – yes, they offer yoga on Thursdays. More events they have include a weekly run club and bike club that each meet there, as well as a weekly disc golf putting league. According to Chris, “We’re always looking to the future. We’d like to get bigger, but don’t need to do it tomorrow. We’ve got this big building, we’ve got a good foothold, and we’re just going to take it slow. We just want to be able to pay the bills, have fun, and make sure that people know we’re here for the right reasons.” Big thanks to him for showing us around the brewery!
Author: Michael Roberts