After years of scrapping it out followed by rapid expansion, the craft beer scene has taken over the Queen City. That’s right, Charlotteans have officially grown accustomed to bloated bellies, indigestion, heartburn or a combination of all three. So what’s a gal do? Drink along, I guess.
However, in honor of Queen City Nerve’s Beer Issue, I thought it was only appropriate that I offer a counternarrative to the brewery-bursting neighborhood of South End.
A couple weeks ago, my friend invited me to Sycamore Brewing. While she knows that I’m no fan of South End, she made sure to mention that her father would be there because he wanted to listen to the bluegrass band that would be performing that day. Smart move. I hadn’t seen her father in quite some time, so of course I couldn’t say no. Little did I know he’d be gone by the time I get there.
Those who have been reading me for a while know that large crowds are the bane of my existence. My anxiety soars through the roof — and my attitude goes with it. When faced with such a situation, I feel forced to drink my way through it. That’s why for me, Sycamore is what nightmares are made of.
After dragging my feet while getting ready, I hopped in an Uber and headed to South End.
As soon as the driver dropped me off, I realized I’d made a mistake. My prior experiences at Sycamore had all taken place years prior and hadn’t prepared me for this. A packed indoor/outdoor house doesn’t even begin to describe it. I felt like I was trapped in the first episode of Spongebob Squarepants, “Help Wanted,” when the Krusty Krab was overtaken by a hoard of anchovies.
It was packed more like sardines as I walked through the patio attempting to call my friend and her boyfriend. With each failed attempt at connecting with them, panic began to spread. If a zombie apocalypse were to hit at that very moment, you might as well have shot me because I was a sitting duck! The mass of people seemed to be never-ending.
I told myself that if I didn’t run into them in the next two minutes, I’m getting right back into an Uber and heading to Corner Pub — my safe place.
But just as I was about to make a run for it, I recognized a few familiar faces standing in a circle in front of a collection of food trucks. I said hi to everyone and quickly made a decision: BBQ, not beer, would get me through this particular day. Another hungry friend grabbed a chopped BBQ sandwich with me and we grubbed while everyone else judged us for abstaining from the ales and lagers. I didn’t mind, I was judging between mouthfuls of pork, too.
After stuffing my face, I ventured inside to see if quenching my thirst would even be possible. If the lines filled with the walking dead and high-probability spillers at Sycamore don’t deter people from wanting to enjoy their beer there, the bathroom lines should.
We managed to snag a table inside with the perfect view of the bathroom lines. Whoever said, “Let’s increase the amount of paved surface and tables outside but don’t worry about increasing the number of interior bathroom stalls,” is a sadist. “They’re good. We’ll just add 15 portable toilets instead!” *evil laugh ensues*
The line was so bad, I witnessed a tipsy dad asked his son wiggling in place trying to hold his pee, ”Do you really, really have to go?” Of course, he knew the answer before he asked, but the grimacing child nodded anyway. The father looked up at the line, then back at his son and said, ”Well hey, just skip the line. Who’s going to say no to a kid? I’ll be here when you get back,” and proceeded to continue to drink from his pint glass. Golf claps were ringing so loud in my ears, I couldn’t help but smile. What a power move by dad.
Needless to say, I chose people watching and harmless judgment over drinking beer and inviting a forced trip to the bathroom. I can’t say I was sad to leave when our group finally decided to make a move. But it’d be remiss of me if I didn’t say I was going to miss the entertainment of observation.
To each his own, but the experience only reinforced my belief that high-traffic breweries like Sycamore and Wooden Robot aren’t my cup of tea — err, pint of beer?