Sprayed across one of NoDa Brewing Company’s brick walls in a myriad of colors is a mural, its vibrant colors combining to form images of hops, grain, flowers, barrels and, of course, pints of beer. Move through the bay door and into the brewery’s tasting room and you’ll find more art displayed therein—not graffiti, but pieces by local artists which are rotated every two months.
Ask anyone drinking at the brewery; however, and they’ll tell you that its true art is produced behind the large, glass wall separating the brewery’s tanks and the tasting room.
Beer as Art
“Beer is our art form,” said Suzie Ford, President of NoDa Brewing Company. “We can’t paint, we can’t write, we can’t draw: but we can make some awesome beer. You start with water—you start with a blank canvas—and I think artists appreciate that. The NoDa neighborhood is full of artists that embrace it as art. It’s the perfect place for us.”
“NoDa” is Charlotte’s historic arts district. The neighborhood takes its name from North Davidson Street, which runs through what once was a mill village before being transformed into an arts community in the 80s. Over the years, mill houses and stores gave way to studios and art galleries, just as a nondescript industrial building on North Davidson became NoDa Brewing last year. Though owners Todd and Suzie Ford are not artists in the traditional sense, like many artists they left corporate jobs to follow their passion. “We left good jobs in corporate America, and I think a lot of people can relate to that,” Suzie said. “We did it truly for the love of beer.”
Expansion is In the Air
The Fords’ love of beer has been reciprocated both by the artists that call NoDa home and Charlotte’s beer geeks as a whole. Patrons have been so supportive of NoDa Brewing since they opened on Oct. 29 of last year, in fact, that the brewery is already expanding after being open just five months. They are purchasing three 30-barrel fermenting tanks from Charlotte’s The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, which is also expanding.
These new tanks will contain plenty of NoDa Brewing’s five year-round beers, which include: Hop, Drop ‘n Roll, an IPA; NoDaRyeZ’d, an imperial IPA brewed with rye; 10 Blocks South, an Xtra Pale Ale; Coco Loco, a porter; and Ramble on Red, a red ale.
All five of these beers are highly-regarded around town, but beer geeks especially appreciate the weekly “NoDable Series” beers tapped every Tuesday. The few kegs of these creative, one-off beers are almost always kicked before the brewery closes on Tuesday nights. Past NoDable Series beers include Belgian Baster, a Belgian Dubbel with cranberries and cinnamon; Hop Cakes, a double IPA infused with maple syrup; and the very popular S’more Porter, which was brewed with chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla, lactose and graham crackers.
Each week, the brewery produces videos for the NoDable Series beers that are perhaps even more creative than the beers themselves. Brewers dressed as bananas, lumberjack conventions and a beer-stealing Batman—these are just a few examples of how NoDa Brewing uses YouTube to have a little fun while talking about their beers. It is this approach to social media and business in general that has endeared NoDa Brewing to the Charlotte beer scene.
NoDa’s All Over Social Media
“By the time we opened, we probably had 700 Facebook fans,” said Suzie, who manages NoDa Brewing’s Facebook page. Not content to use the Facebook page as only a means of self-promotion, she takes care to actually engage NoDa Brewing’s fans in a number of ways. Instead of just telling fans when they acquire a new account, for example, Suzie posts a photo of the account’s bar and asks, “Where in the World is NoDa Brewing?” The first person to name the location wins a prize.
Sometimes fans take their own photos, often of the growlers they take with them on vacation. Suzie reposts these photos on Facebook as “Growlers on the Go.” One fan took a growler to Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, Calif. Though this was likely NoDa Brewing’s first trip to the West Coast, it won’t be the last. The brewery was invited to attend the inaugural Pints for Prostates Portland Pale Ale Invitational, presented in conjunction with the 25th annual Oregon Brewers Festival on July 25.
Suzie also uses NoDa Brewing’s Twitter account (@NoDaBrewing) to let followers know where to find NoDa beers around town—and she’s not the brewery’s only Twitter presence. You can also follow head brewer Chad Henderson (@BeerMadChad), assistant brewer and “distribution dude” Matt Virgil (@MattNoDaBrewing), bartender Brian Mister (@bmister06) and sales reps Erica Cline (@NodaErica) and Courtney Valvo (@cozyrose). For now, only those in the greater Charlotte area can enjoy NoDa Brewing’s art—but if you want to see social media done right, keep up with the brewery and its staff on Facebook Twitter and YouTube.
Daniel Hartis writes about craft beer happenings around Charlotte at CharlotteBeer.com. When he is not pursuing an unhealthy obsession with all things Rauchbier, he’s spending time with his wife and chasing around his one-year-old son. Follow Daniel on Twitter at @CharlotteBeer and on Facebook.