Tag Archives: Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

Pretzels, Truffles, and Uh-Ohs in Downtown Asheville, NC

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A man dressed in drag. A dog that looked possessed of the devil. A “nun” on a unicycle. A dusting of gothics. A man in a belly shirt. A group of really freaky freaks. A few dozen hippies. Really, the only weird thing missing in the crowd was crazy Lady Gaga in her bizarre egg costume. Yes, I just called her a “thing.”

The only thought in my mind at the moment I saw the street crawling with the above unique individuals was “Uh-Oh, what are we getting ourselves into?” Marc and I unexpectdly stublembed upon this scene when we visited Asheville last weekend. We quickly learned that all of those crazies were out on the streets for the 10th annual Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival (LAAFF). This festival definitely defies cultural norms and festival organizers boast that it attracts individuals from all walks of life. No false advertising there — it is definitely a diverse crowd!

I felt a bit uncomfortable as a yuppy in a crowd of so many crazies. They were all trying super hard to look different in order to draw attention to themselves and there I was grabbing the attention of the crowd by dressing in my yuppy conservative manner that typically makes me blend into crowds.

Unfortunately, I didn’t exactly feel up to wandering the streets amongst a bunch of really different people. I’m sure I missed out on some fun art and great culture, but the festival was the epitome of weird and I just couldn’t get into it. Marc and I quickly made Lexington Avenue Brewery (LAB) our haven. We ordered a beer sampler as I waited for my friend Danielle, who lives in Asheville, to arrive. I was so glad she was joining us since I felt like I needed a local by my side in order to feel a bit more comfortable.

As we waited on her to arrive, we enjoyed some fabulous old world pretzels. If you read our post about Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in Charlotte, NC then you already know that we expect top-notch pretzels. These were uber-pretzels with a perfect, toasty taste. Plump, crispy, and delicious. If we could delight in those pretzels at OMB, I’m pretty sure we’d be weekly visitors.

As if I hadn’t indulged enough, Danielle insisted we go out for a little dessert at French Broad Chocolate Lounge (aka: heaven). We waited in line for 15 minutes and loved inhaling the chocolaty aroma that filled the lounge. I ordered the Flourless Chocolate Truffle Torte and if indulging in that is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Regrettably, I didn’t snap a picture because I went into devour mode the second it landed in front of me. I also thoroughly enjoyed the Chai ice cream Danielle let me sample from her plate. Marc quoted No Strings Attached and proclaimed, “You eat like a baby dinosaur. You don’t even chew.” Not that that’s something to brag about, but it certainly made me laugh because it was true in that moment. I was eating like a baby dinosaur, but at least I limited myself to a slice of cake and didn’t eat a hand full of truffles with it.

I indulged a little too much over the weekend, but the following quote makes me feel better.

“I am not a glutton — I am an explorer of food.” — Erma Bombeck

Where’s your favorite place to get dessert in the Carolinas? I’m always on the lookout for new places to visit. I especially love places that are individually owned and operated!

~ Lyndsi

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A Slice of Germany in an Unlikely Place

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Ah, beer gardens, pretzels, sauercraut, and wood-paneled beer halls. Quite a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon. But no, we’re not in Germany, we’re in good old Charlotte, NC at the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. The German-style brewery has only been open since 2009 and is already attracting quite a following. This is Charlotte’s own micro-brewery, taking the place of several past failed efforts. The beer that has made this company famous is its Copper ale, but it also offers a few seasonal varieties.

We went on the free tour and learned quite a bit about OMB. First, it’s an authentic Düsseldorf style “Altbier” beer. “Alt” means old in German, as in “old-school.” They import fresh Bavarian hops from Germany to make it here in Charlotte. This stems back to the founder’s love of this German beer. He traveled the world on a sort of sabbatical and picked Charlotte to be the location for his brewery.

What sets OMB apart is it’s premium, ultra fresh, and contains no preservatives. You can taste the difference between OMB and beers that have been shipped across the country or world (i.e. your Bud Lights). According to the OMB site, “lagering their Alt for several weeks after primary fermentation could produce a full-flavored, yet smoother and more refreshing beer.” It’s true.

While the beer is fresh and delicious, the brewery itself is worth a visit. Located just south of uptown Charlotte, it’s convenient to the light rail. We entered an industrial area and all of a sudden it became clear where OMB was due to the packed parking lot in an otherwise desolate industrial landscape. Outside is their “beer garden,” but it’s essentially picnic tables in a parking lot. A bit disappointing there.

Inside is a sizeable beer hall with vaulted ceilings and wood-paneled walls, clearly modeled after Germany. You can buy t-shirts and mugs, or head straight to the bar for super-fresh beer on draft. You can probably guess where Lyndsi and I headed. Several pints later, we headed on the free tour of the facility. It’s open five days a week (closed Sunday-Monday) and I recommend it. The tour guide was funny, lively, and like the rest of the visitors, drinking. He suggested we shout “BEER ME” if you run out during the tour (that seems inevitable). Interestingly, we learned that OMB still bottles beer by hand, which explains why their distribution to local retailers like Harris Teeter (grocery store) is limited to individual pint bottles and no 12-packs.

On a related note, some of the biggest beer halls in the world can be found in Munich, which is, of course, home of the ultimate beer festival, the Oktoberfest. If you’re lucky enough to be in that part of the world during the festival, why not stay in a local’s apartment in Munich and make your stay in Bavaria all the more authentic?

Special tip: keep your expectations low if you want a soft German pretzel. We’re fairly certain they buy them at Costco down the street. But hey, they’re a brewery, not a restaurant. And if that’s the biggest complaint one can have, then they’re in pretty good shape. OMB, Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. Charlotte’s very own German-style brewery. Fresh, premium, delicious. Long live OMB!

~ Marc