CHARLOTTE – John Thomas and his brother, Jared, had been talking about opening their own brewery in Charlotte for a while. Two years ago, they finally took the leap and began planning for what would become Edge City Brewery, not knowing it would all come to a head in the midst of a pandemic.
Edge City was on track to open off Monroe Road the first weekend in April. Thomas said local and state stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19 forced them to push back a few weeks and pivot what they had planned for a grand opening. The celebration was supposed to include live music, vendors and food trucks.
“We really wanted to make it just an exciting weekend for the community and introduce ourselves as a new addition to the community and a new brewery,” Thomas said. “We still plan to do that in the future when we can.”
Bars and taprooms remain closed under Phase Two of Gov. Roy Cooper’s three-phased approach to reopen the state. The second phase began at 5 p.m. May 22 and runs through at least June 26.
For now, selling beer to go is Edge City’s only option.
Customers can choose from a variety of New England IPAs, hazy IPAs, sours, pilsners, lagers, wheat beers and stouts to take home in 32-ounce growlers. They can either bring their own growler or use one of Edge City’s for free.
The brewery sold all of its growlers on its first day and has since seen a steady flow of returning visitors, thirsty for more. Two of the most popular brews are Foggy Bottom Boi (a “juicy” New England-style IPA) and Hakuna Kumquata (a Berliner weisse brewed with local kumquats and strawberries).
Thomas said while the to-go beer has been successful, he’s looking forward to customers eventually coming in and enjoying the brewery as intended. He and his brother purposely chose to build in an “underserved” area of Monroe Road, which some call MoRA.
MoRA is a grassroots organization that includes residents from surrounding neighborhoods, area businesses, East Mecklenburg High School and the Independence Regional Library.
The group is intent on shaping the rebirth of Monroe Road from Oakhurst to Matthews by bringing together live music, art and vendors.
Edge City is located right next to MoRA’s “Embrace” sculpture – the icon of the neighborhood. The space is two stories tall, with the second being the brewhouse where guests will be able to see the brewing process in action.
In the taproom is where city and nature meet, Thomas said. Customers can expect to see a live tree in the space as well as tons of plants, big windows with natural light, tables made out of live-edge wood and a white marble bar top. There are also hints of city accents like gold chandeliers and tap handles. Outside is a dog-friendly patio.
Opening a new business is already nerve-racking and challenging, but throw a pandemic in the mix and it seems impossible. For Edge City, it wasn’t.
“Those fears were definitely in the back of our mind, but we were just trying to be as positive and optimistic as possible,” Thomas said.
The past month has been like one long soft opening for Edge City. Thomas said they’ve been able to get a feel for the business and hear feedback from customers about the beer and space. It has also given Thomas’ brewmaster brother, Jared, more time to brew and work on new recipes.
Even though it was tough at times, Thomas said Edge City almost had to open in the middle of the pandemic. In a way, it shows businesses and residents things aren’t as hopeless as they may seem.
“Our opening was some good news when there wasn’t so much good news going on,” Thomas said. “We were able to see a lot of support from the community – not just this neighborhood, but from Charlotte in general – which was really neat to see.”
Want to learn more?
Edge City Brewery is located at 6209 Old Post Road, Suite 109, Charlotte. Visit www.edgecitybrewery.com or call 980-949-6199 to learn more. Follow @edgecitybrewery on Facebook and Instagram to stay connected.