An Insider’s Guide to the Craft Brewing Scene in Gaston County

2018/11/02

The craft beer explosion that started in Asheville and Charlotte has finally made its way across the Catawba River into Gaston County. With an abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities throughout the area, Gaston is the perfect setting for embracing the brewpub culture, and visitors will find several taprooms where they can taste award-winning beers from across the county. So after you’ve spent time paddling, biking, or hiking, discover what’s brewing with this guide to Gaston County’s top spots for craft-made beer.

Ole Dallas Brewery

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Five friends turned their passion for beer-making into the Ole Dallas Brewery. Go Gaston

Gaston County’s first brewery, Ole Dallas, is truly a homegrown operation. What started as a homebrewing hobby for five friends who grew up together in Dallas, North Carolina, is now a seven-acre production facility and taproom. The four easy-drinking flagship beers, which you’ll always find on tap, embrace the founding partner’s Southern roots and recall the small town’s history. They include an easy-drinking Belgian-style Wildcat Wit and the light Pale Rebel Y’Ale. The Ole George’s Porter is a nod to the town’s namesake—the 11th vice president of the United States, George Mifflin Dallas. The citrusy smooth Crossroads IPA is named for the brewery’s location at the geographic center of the county.

The sprawling grounds are perfect for events you don’t typically find at urban breweries. Drop by for the pro wrestling tournaments in the parking area, a haunted trail at Halloween, and a vintage antique market on weekends. The partners are eyeing ambitious growth opportunities down the road, including a brewhouse expansion, a restaurant, a private event space, and an outdoor concert venue for weekend festivals.

Rivermen Brewing Company

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The Riverman Brewing Company in downtown Belmont features an outdoor patio that’s a perfect place to relax after an outdoor adventure. Steve Huff Media

An old mill in downtown Belmont has been artfully restored with reclaimed wood and glass to house the Rivermen Brewing Company, which includes a brewery, taproom, and a full-service restaurant. You’ll find its flagship beers year round, like the light bestseller Shuttle Bunny Blonde, the award-winning Foundation Black IPA, and the Precipitation Scottish Ale, a malty twist on tradition. There’s always a half-dozen seasonals and one-offs flowing from 20 taps, like the popular Almond Joygasm, a delicious play on its Peel Out Porter with coconut, chocolate, and almond notes. Guest ciders and proseccos round out the taproom offerings.

Sandwiches, flatbreads, and salads are the mainstays of the pub dinner menu, while Sunday brunch beckons with treats like the Cinnamon Porter Pancake Stack. An outdoor patio is the perfect setting for a pint and pretzel or cupcake from the in-house bakery.

York Chester Brewing Company

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The York Chester Brewing Company occupies a building that was once the Spectrum Dye Mill in Belmont. Brant Waldeck

Husband and wife team Jarvis and Julia Roberts opened the York Chester Brewing Company in a space once occupied by the Rivermen during its start-up years. In a building that was once Belmont’s Spectrum Dye Mill, the couple creates flagship brews like the aromatic Citrafuge IPA and creamy Paddy O’Murphy’s Drirish Stout, aiming to put its own twist on drinkable classics with local ingredients.

Every pint in the taproom is served with a side helping of history, building on its location along the Catawba River. They’ve established a local following by hosting regular community events like weekly yoga, art classes, and live music on the weekends. Usher in springtime at the annual oyster roast, with fresh seafood, new beer releases, live music, and plenty of Carolina sunshine on the banks of the Catawba.

Cavendish Brewing Company

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The Cavendish Brewing Company in Gastonia has won six medals at the North Carolina Brewers Cup. Go Gaston

Leading the revitalization of downtown Gastonia, the Cavendish Brewing Company is a 16-tap brewhouse that’s located in a former Studebaker dealership. It serves five core beers year round, including the hazy, hoppy Foggy Mountain Cave-In New England IPA, a full-bodied, high ABV Chester Street Porter, and the top-selling Social Lubrication Belgian Blonde. You’ll also find a rotation of saisons, sours, and seasonals. The brewery aims to be Gaston County’s locally owned and locally brewed neighborhood alternative to driving into Charlotte for craft beer. The food is another enticement to visit, as the kitchen serves up paninis, soups, and chili both inside and on the patio.

Coming off a big win at the North Carolina Brewers Cup—six medals in all—Cavendish is collaborating with Rivermen to host the Belmont Octoberfest and brew the county’s first joint entry in Unknown Brewery’s Strange Brew Competition. The self-proclaimed nerds behind the bar like to encourage your inner geek by hosting events you won’t find anywhere else, like its Intergalactic Space Mixer.

District 8 Beer Company

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You can actually paddle to the District 8 Beer Company on the South Fork Blueway. Steve Huff Media

District 8 Beer Company is capitalizing on the county’s rapid growth to become the neighborhood pub and bottle shop of choice in Belmont’s South Fork Village. Drawing young families, mill retirees, and everyone in between with food trucks, board games, and cornhole, it plans to build a community around craft beer made just up the hill from the South Fork River. In fact, you can paddle the South Fork Blueway and, in the next few months, walk the South Fork Greenway from McAdenville for your pint.

Stocking the shelves with close to 100 bottles and cans is a new mission each week, with a rotating selection of North and South Carolina beers accounting for almost half of the offerings. Florida breweries are well represented, rounded out by one of the best selections of national brands in the county. Every time one of the 13 taps runs dry, a new beer comes out, with tap takeovers from breweries across the country and a weekly Battle Royale blind tasting that pits same-style local brews against national breweries.

Growler USA Gastonia

The Growler USA brewpub in Gastonia is part of the growing trend across the country to match great craft brews with excellent food. In fact, the restaurant features Cicerone Certified Beer Servers—think somaliers for beer—to help you chose the craft beer to pair with what you’re eating. You might need the help—Growler USA features 104 taps, with creative craft beers, wine, and ciders all available. You’ll find options from around the world, including lots of local favorites. The menu is known for its elevated pub fare like burgers, wings, and hot pretzels, plus a number of dishes you may not expect, such as the Ah-ha! Ahi, a sashimi-style ahi tuna topped with jalapeño coins and cilantro with a ponzu soy sauce.

Growler USA is located in the historic Loray Mill complex, a massive building that was used as a textile factory when it opened in 1902 before Firestone took it over. That plant closed in 1993, and the facility is now a mixed-use development with retail and apartments.

Written by Ann Gibson for RootsRated Media in partnership with Gaston County Gov.