Go inside: Protagonist Clubhouse opens Thursday in NoDa

Go inside: Protagonist Clubhouse opens Thursday in NoDa
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Protagonist Clubhouse, a new 1,700-square-foot nano-brewery, will open Thursday, May 9 in the heart of NoDa.

The intimate 30-seat space stands in stark contrast to Charlotte’s bigger warehouse-style breweries, opting instead for an experimental lab-style setting for “exploring curiosities.”

The concept comes from childhood friends Ryan Owens, Mike Salzarulo and Ryan McKillen. Advanced Cicerone Christopher Westgard was the brewery’s first hire as beverage and education director, and Wicked Weed alumnus Jeremy Claeys is head brewer.

The team is also planning a much larger brewery operation near Parkwood Station in Optimist Park with a target opening in Q4 2020.


Protagonist features a small two-barrel brewing system with taps that pour straight from the tanks and is home to one of only a dozen Flux Capacitors in the world.

Not to be confused with the flux capacitor of DeLorean time machine fame, this high-tech system allows brewers to perfectly control the carbonation of beer in a long-draw draft system like Protagonist’s.

Flux Capacitor

Basically, if a beer has to travel more than a few feet from keg to tap, you can sacrifice the quality of the end product without the ability to independently control varying levels of CO2 pressure on each line. The Flux Capacitor makes it possible to dial up or dial down the CO2 and nitrogen levels specific to the unique carbonation level of each beer. The end result? A perfect pour every time.

They’ll have 26 “A-Z” taps behind the bar for guest beers and select non-alcoholic options like kombucha and nitro cold brew. A menu of spirit-free beer cocktails, like the classic shandy, will also be available.

A small retail selection of cans and bottles are available to go or to enjoy on site and fresh take-home beers can be filled in crowlers.

The brewery’s modern minimalist design, created by Brand Bureau out of New York City, mixes white oak, natural neutrals and greenery with flashy pops of industrial tech – like the brew tanks and rows of bright red regulators on the Flux Capacitor.

It’s a very intimate space with 30 seats inside and 12 outside for a total seating and standing room capacity of just 49 people.

There’s also an on-site kitchen offering a selection of bar snacks, charcuterie and cheese, hot dogs, grilled cheese and more.

They’re sourcing local products where possible, including Duke’s bread and Poppin’ popcorn.

Early menu items (subject to change) include:

  • Trio of bar snacks – porcini popcorn, house marinated olives and spiced pecans
  • Duke’s pretzel – with Protagonist beer cheese
  • Charcuterie and cheese board – with local mustard, jams and breads
  • Chopped Caesar salad – Romaine, sourdough croutons, smoked bacon, hard-boiled egg, parmesan, radish, tomato and Caesar dressing
  • 4 cheese grilled cheese – Havarti, cheddar, cotija and parmesan on local sourdough
  • All-beef hot dog – with pimento cheese and chow chow on a brioche bun

Photo courtesy of Protagonist Clubhouse

Protagonist Clubhouse will be open from 3-10 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 3-11 p.m. on Friday; noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday; and noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Find it at 3123 N. Davidson St.

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