NoDa Brewing Company hosts a quarterly White Elephant Bottle Party at their North Tryon taproom. People interested in participating bring a wrapped (i.e. brown bagged) 22 ounce or 750 mL craft beer to exchange with each other. Each participant receives a number and is able to either choose a wrapped beer or take a bottle that has already been unwrapped from someone else. A beer can get “stolen” three times before it’s locked, which means the person who steals the beer for the third time gets to keep the beer.
I’ve been to three White Elephant Bottle Parties at NoDa and they are a ton of fun, plus you get the opportunity to come home with a special beer you may not have had the chance to try otherwise. For the most part, everyone who participates brings a special beer that isn’t widely available, either because it’s not available around Charlotte or because it’s an aged beer.
Part of the fun in going to the bottle party is deciding what to bring. When we’re choosing which beers to bring, we usually think about what beers we have that will make someone’s day to get. Typically we’ll bring bottles from breweries that aren’t in Charlotte and/or that people will recognize. For our first bottle party, we brought a New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red and a 2015 Three Floyds Dark Lord (boom). We haven’t been quite so charitable and splashy with the other White Elephant parties we’ve been to, but we always bring something special. One of the reasons we bring something special is because almost everyone else does as well. Granted, “special” is a subjective term, so what seems special to me may not be special to someone else. However, NoDa asks that no one bring gag beers, so at least you’re not in danger of giving away your Dark Lord and ending up with a Four Loko.
Of course, part of the fun in going to the bottle party is getting a cool bottle of beer that you may not otherwise have gotten. Past bottles we’ve brought home include Brettomatic from Creature Comforts, Raleighwood from Raleigh Brewing Company, Strawberry Shortcake from Cigar City Brewing, and Supplication from Russian River (woot).
The “stealing” portion of the exchange is in good humor, with no one (outwardly) getting too upset about losing a great beer. There’s definitely a mixture of anticipation and anxiety in the room as everyone either hopes no one steals the beer they have or calculates whether they can be the ones to steal a beer for the coveted third and final time. Overall, the mood is always lighthearted and the people are friendly and ready to talk about beer.
If you’ve never been to a White Elephant Bottle Party at NoDa, I highly recommend going. Don’t feel intimidated about bringing the “right” beer and don’t worry about whether your beer is “special” enough because it’s very likely that whatever you bring is going to be new and exciting to someone there. To find out about the next White Elephant Bottle Party at NoDa, like their page on Facebook and keep an eye on their Events page.