19th annual Charlotte Oktoberfest. Photo courtesy of Bernie Petit.

The brewery scene is huge in Charlotte, but rarely do you hear about the black folks who enjoy craft beer. I recently attended Charlotte Oktoberfest at Bojangles’ Coliseum, and it was clear that there’s an enthusiastic and emerging black audience that local breweries would be wise to tap into.

Sure, the crowd at the 19th annual event overwhelmingly didn’t look like me. But, speaking as someone who frequents local breweries, there were far more people of color at Oktoberfest than I ordinarily see at many local breweries.

That’s important to note. With more than 20 breweries currently in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County — and seemingly, at least one opening every week — there’s a fair chance the craft beer market will become oversaturated. Breweries that only cater to one type of audience likely won’t survive.

This makes the black craft beer-drinking market a clear growth opportunity for Charlotte-area breweries. We know there’s already a question about where black professionals hang out in Charlotte (side note: you should visit black-owned Three Spirits Brewery), but with a little effort, breweries could easily fill a niche in the social scene for Charlotte’s black community.

If you’re interested in easing into the local craft beer scene, here are a couple of ways to dip your toes in:

  • South End Craft Crawl, Oct. 6, 2-8 p.m., South End: Free transportation on the signature historic trolleys will get you from place-to-place at 11 participating spots: Craft Tasting Room and Growler Shop; Hyde Brewing; Pop the Top Craft Beer Shop; Lenny Boy Brewing Co.; Max & Lola Bodega; Red Clay Ciderworks; Sycamore Brewing; Triple C Brewing Company; The Brass Tap – South End; The Unknown Brewing Company; and Wooden Robot Brewery. You can easily check out as many of the South End breweries and beer spots as you’d like. Details: https://historicsouthend.com/events/craft-crawl.
  • Laketoberfest Music and Brew Festival, Oct. 20, 4-9 p.m., Cornelius: The annual event is one of the largest Oktoberfest celebrations in Lake Norman and will feature 10 local craft breweries, including: Ass Clown, Birdsong, Blue Blaze, D9, Eleven Lakes, Ghostface, Morgan Ridge Railwalk, Olde Mecklenburg, Primal and Sugar Creek. There will also be food trucks, vendors, a kid’s zone and live music. Admission and parking are free. Details: http://cornelius.org/447/Laketoberfest.

Bernie Petit is a communications professional and an amateur beer-drinker looking to go pro in Charlotte. You’re more likely to find him at a local brewery than you are on social media.

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