Birdsong Brewery, Charlotte, NC

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Another night, another opportunity to try a different brewery.  Birdsong Brewing is located in the North Davidson area of Charlotte, immediately next door to NoDa Brewing presently.

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Birdsong has one of the more graphically appealing logos I’ve observed with breweries, and as polished as the building above looks... Birdsong is actually located at the rear.

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This speaks to “cheaper rent and functional space,” a wise decision when venturing into business, I would think.  The tap room has a certain cozy efficiency to it, both in materials and space.  Staff were helpful, and the balance between supply and demand were right on.

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Sitting at the bar, I found myself between two groups of regulars.  I suppose that if I lived convenient to a (good) brewery, that would be a temptation (more so if there was a concert venue next door).  The view from my seat was partially obstructed by plastic flower in growlers – I’m pretty certain that half of the owners are female, but it works in a modest nod towards hippie coolness.  As a bonus, you get peanuts and a thoughtful quote from Emerson. 

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In any case, between the flowers was the beer menu (click any picture to expand).

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I’ve had their “Jalapeno Pale Ale” at nearby Cabo Fish Tacos.  It’s very drinkable, but that works opposite to my expectations given the name.  It doesn’t stand out, by spice or other measure.  If you search really hard, you can detect the aroma of jalapenos, though.  After my peachy visit at RJ Rocker’s, I was eager to try another of the variety, thus.. “Eat a Peach.”

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This, sadly, was as unpeachy as the jalapeno ale was spicy.  Nice coloring, though, and otherwise the taste was average for an ale. 

You might wonder why it’s “Eat a Peach” vs. “Drink a Peach.”  Or, maybe you don’t, but the musically observant beer drinker would note that the the given name is also an album name by the Allman Brothers.  Similarly, the “Free Will Brown” references a song by Rush, “Lazy Bird Brown” may tease the brewery name but may also point a song by John Coltrane, “Higher Ground IPA” by Stevie Wonder, “Fake Plastic Trees Wheat” by Radiohead, and so on.  That’s an engaging way of naming beers, in my opinion.  There are no worthy Jalepeno songs, however.

Next up was THURsty THURsday, their weekly special 10 gallon release, which usually doesn’t make it through the day.  This was a Belgian style blonde ale (including plums, but not for color), dubbed “Lady Madonna Plum Blonde.”  It was actually pretty good, and I have no idea if I tasted plums or not.

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And, finally, for the tour, I grabbed their Higher Ground IPA, which was as good as any other good brewery’s, but not the sought after great.  I like IPAs, and I’d be interested sometime in doing a straight up comparison between theirs and the local competitors.  Good stuff.

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This particular tour was generally less informative than I had hoped, but that happens when it’s not a brewer leading the discussion.  Like a Marvel comic, it did come with the requisite Origin Story, though.  Some number of the (I think 4) friends that started the brewery were on a “research” trip to other breweries, staying at... a hostel.  Whereupon they heard a tweeting sound and thought that it was a trapped bird.  After looking for it, they found that it was their head brewer, snoring.

Below is half of their old fashioned method of keeping up where their kegs are located.

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As the hostel name suggests, the vibe of the brewery is much more informal than neighboring NoDa or the farther away Triple C.  That hasn’t hurt their growth, though.  They’ve found a niche that is now requiring a relocation from their 5,000 sq.ft. space to a 17,000 sq.ft. building farther up Davidson St.   Their current plant, below, is fairly modest.

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As is the trend, barrels are hard at work for future distillery infused flavors.

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One observation I take from most craft breweries is an appreciation of how people take an interest in a thing, get pretty good at it, and then pursue their dreams to create a business.  Birdsong began in 2011, a common age for many craft breweries, and most seem to expand significantly in 2-3 years.  The craft brewery business has been significantly impacted as the government in many states has encouraged craft beer growth, particularly by setting aside restrictive distribution laws – such as allowing growler refills and flexible serving hours.  Really progressive states also allow food to be sold.  

In any case, Birdsong is yet another strong brand in the Charlotte market, who, collectively, I’d say outperforms those in Atlanta for inventiveness.  Congregating a number of breweries in an area helps a lot.   And logo designs.

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