This story was last updated May 11 at 2pm to include renderings and an interview with Mike Gaertner.
The 475-year-old brewer Gilde plans to open its first brewery outside Germany this fall in Charlotte’s LoSo neighborhood. The Embassy at Gilde Brewery, as they’re calling it, will be open in time for Oktoberfest.
At its 9,000 square-foot facility at 3530 Dewitt Lane, Gilde plans to brew its six staple German beers, brewery management said in a statement Tuesday. They also plan to “experiment with American craft beer styles” like IPAs.
Why it matters: The fact that one of Germany’s oldest brewers wants to expand into Charlotte is a nod of confidence in the local beer industry, which has been growing at a breakneck pace ever since the city’s first brewery, Olde Mecklenburg, opened in 2009.
Gilde had wanted to open in Charlotte sooner, but the pandemic delayed those plans, Gilde president Mike Gaertner tells Axios. He pointed to Charlotte’s growth, plus its appetite for beer, as major reasons Gilde chose to expand here.
- “What we see here is a very beer addicted (population) and … breweries that open again and again, which is a mark that the people here like beer. So they will have a lot of fun together at our brewery,” Gaertner says.
“This is the place to be if you want a traditional German beer brewed by a German brewmaster,” he adds.
Zoom out: Hannover, Germany-based Gilde has been around since 1546. In 2019, Karsten Uhlmann, the brewery’s CEO, shared with me how the company plans to grow into Charlotte in phases. For the last few years, Gilde has been selling its traditional beers (like pilsners and hefeweizens) at local grocery stores.
- Ultimately, the brewery wants to have a massive flagship location here capable of producing 500,000 barrels per year — or roughly 25 times the capacity of Olde Meck, which is also Charlotte’s biggest brewery. Gaertner says the timing of that part of the project is TBD.
Details: The Embassy will have an interior bier haus and outdoor biergarten, all with a capacity for 350 customers. Willi Wallstab, a renowned German brewing master, is moving to Charlotte to lead the brewing at Gilde of its six staples, all brewed on site according to German Purity Law: Pilsener, Kellerbier, Urbock, Red Rooster, Lemon Radler, and Pale Wheat.
- Gilde will have a rotating set of craft beers, too.
- Two Michelin Star chef Stefan Hermann will lead Gilde’s culinary program. Expect traditional German food such as sausages, pretzels and spätzle (a German pasta).
“As the original craft beer innovators, we will immerse guests in centuries of German brewing heritage combined with the creativity of the American beer movement,” Uhlmann said in a statement.
Flashback: This spring, Gilde bought the LoSo property, which is a quick walk to the Scaleybark light-rail stop, from Charlotte developer Beacon Partners for $3.1 million, according to the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds. The building was previously home to the furniture store Reinvented Charlotte, which closed in 2018, the Observer reported at the time.
- The building is also close to LoSo Station, a planned mixed-use development that’ll have offices, restaurant and retail space, a hotel and apartments.
Here’s a look at what The Embassy will look like. All renderings are courtesy of Gensler: