For the first time, the Seversville neighborhood can claim a craft brewery as their own, as Blue Blaze Brewing formally opens to the public on Saturday (June 25).
Blue Blaze couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate location, given their focus on outdoor-oriented activities. Names for the beers and the brewery itself stem from hiking trail labeling schemes, so their positioning at the Stewart Creek Greenway trailhead is much more a result of divine providence and superb planning than dumb luck.
I could spend countless paragraphs on the people and the place itself, but I’ll leave that to others. Beer is what separates breweries from any other type of business, so let’s get to it.
Styles on offer are all over the map, ranging from the Germanic Blue Blaze altbier and Yellow Blaze kolsch, over to the American-originated black IPA Double Blaze and British-born Black Blaze milk stout.
It’s the namesake altbier that had given me much to think about in the days after my visit.
Odds are, you’re familiar with Olde Mecklenburg’s flagship Copper. It’s also an altbier, not to mention the highest-selling craft beer in the county. I remember wondering seven years ago if OMB had chosen a style that would be too obscure, and I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Blue Blaze’s decision to go against the 800-pound gorilla is a curious one to me, bordering on Sisyphean. This isn’t a style like pale ale, where dozens of local outfits and thousands of others offer their own unique interpretations. Copper seems to be the local gold standard. Will bars be more inclined to stick with the established product, or will the upstart Blue Blaze have success in unseating the incumbent?
Other beers pouring included Yellow Blaze, a kolsch-style beer, which had a peachy sweetness where I sought a crisper finish. Double Blaze, their black IPA, has a dialed-in resinous hop blast yet adversarial roast notes.
Of special mention is the Black Blaze milk stout, carrying beautifully interwoven layers of coffee and chocolate, appropriately served on a nitro line. This is all-weather decadence, so don’t dare let the summertime heat inspire anti-stout discrimination.
The modern Charlotte craft beer scene has seen much necessary change and increased specialization over the years, so it’s curious to find us seemingly coming full circle in regards to altbier and kolsch. These two newest additions to the Charlotte beer scene were also curiously the first, as Olde Mecklenburg opened with them over seven years ago.
It’ll be interesting to see what inevitable changes Blue Blaze will undergo, as has every other local outfit. I remember NoDa launching with their 10 Blocks South pale ale, which has been seen but once in the last few years. OMB similarly said “auf wiedersehen” to their Kolsner some time ago, and only recently rediscovered their seemingly-forgotten Mecklenburger. What’s old is new again, I suppose.
So if you see me biking west on the Stewart Creek Greenway this summer, you shouldn’t even need to ask if I’ll be stopping at Blue Blaze for a beer or two. Dibs on a rocking chair.