The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery
4150 Yancey Rd
Charlotte, North Carolina
Visited on January 11, 2014
Return visit on March 18, 2017
What a difference a couple of years can make. When my wife and I rolled up to this place to meet some friends and their baby, I told her that we must be in the wrong spot. This can’t be The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery – that was in an old, long wooden beer hall with ambiguous entryways. This is…
Apparently OMB had moved since the last time I visited, and boy did they upgrade. The new campus is massive, featuring several different large-format event spaces and an outdoor area that would rival any small city park. There are people and dogs and kids and dogs and kids absolutely everywhere.
It’s a beautiful spot, but a bit overwhelming on an early Saturday afternoon. They handle the crowd pretty well by offering food and drinks from various different spots, but the numbers still get to me. We split a couple of sausages that were quite tasty, but the outdoors didn’t seem to have much in the way of options.
The beer hasn’t changed, though. Still a pretty decent selection of solid German beers. You can’t really go wrong with any of them unless you just don’t like the style.
I fought the pouring rain to find this place close to the train tracks. It doesn’t look promising from the outside; less like a brewery and more like a meat packing plant where dreams go to die. I wasn’t sure which door to go to, so I wrongly picked the one closest to my car. I found myself in a big empty space with what looked like some kind of class going on. Luckily, someone pointed me to the restaurant portion on the other side of the wall.
As much as this place is basically a warehouse, they do a good job on the interior. It is surprisingly welcoming with a ton of dark wood, long tables, German flags hanging from the rafters, and panels on the walls to deaden the noise. I’ve never been to Germany, but as far as German beer halls go, this one feels right.
The room is accentuated by two gigantic windows that gaze upon the brewing operation, which looks quite large from outside. It’s probably the best option I’ve seen as far as giving visitors a glimpse of the brewing equipment without having it all up in their faces or in the way. And the restaurant didn’t smell like brewery, so they must do a good job containing odors to the back.
The menu is a little limited; it features sausages imported from around the country and sides that can be prepared at the start of the day. I’m guessing they don’t really have any cooking equipment in the back. I opted for two sausages – gyulai and knockwurst – and two sides. The sausages were excellent, and the sides were pretty on-point.
Fair warning – if you don’t like vinegar, don’t order the German sides.
As for the beer, it is clean and crisp and a damned good representation of the German style. If you don’t like simple beers made with quality ingredients – if you must have 10 different malts and 60 plus IBUs – this is not your scene. There’s beauty to be found in a well-done lager, though, as there’s nothing to hide mistakes.
Everything is tasty, but my favorites were the dopplebocks. Then again, that’s my favorite style to begin with. And taking it to the next level, they had one of their higher ABV bocks available aged in bourbon barrels. Also my favorite. The beer could have used a little less time in the barrels, as I thought the bourbon stole the show instead of adding a layer of complexity, but it was still damn good.
The one negative comment I have is the service, and it wasn’t the servers fault. Somebody must have called in sick, because on a Saturday near lunch time they only had two servers and a busser working the giant room. As such, I had to flag people down whenever I wanted something. But once I did, they were friendly and quick.
Overall, I’d be back if I lived nearby, both for some sausage and some bock. Well done.