This past weekend, I visited Lenny Boy Brewing Company’s new taproom, which celebrated its grand opening on Saturday, September 10th. The new brewery, which is located at 3000 South Tryon (on the corner of Tryon and Griffith Street), is massive, with a 31,000 square foot warehouse and a 2,300 square foot taproom. Having been to their old taproom, which was a quarter of the size of the new taproom, made Lenny Boy’s new space seem even more cavernous.
I absolutely love it when breweries are set up to allow their customers to see into the actual brewery and Lenny Boy may have the best set up in all of Charlotte. Huge windows looking into brewhouse line three sides of the taproom. From one set of windows, you can see the brewing equipment as well as see how much room they have to grow in their new facility. Already being a fan of Lenny Boy, it made me excited for them to look into the huge but partially filled brewhouse and think about how much fun it will be to say “Remember when they first opened and this space was nearly empty? Look at it now.” I also love being able to look through another set of windows and see all the open fermentations happening.
It was still early in the evening when we arrived, so there were still plenty of places to find a seat. The taproom has several common tables, which are made from North Carolina trees, as well as a couple lounge areas with couches. There are several TVs (not my cup of tea, but I’m not a football fan) and some games in the lounge area, among which was a giant Connect 4. The most maddening part of the evening was watching a group playing a game of Connect 4 and NO ONE noticing that one of them had three in a diagonal row with an opening to win the game. It took like three rounds for the guy to see it, despite all the mental screaming I was doing at him: “DID 80S TV COMMERCIALS NOT TEACH YOU ANYTHING?”
“Pretty sneaky, sis.”
Anyway, wild and sour beers are two of my favorite types of beer to drink right now, so I’ve been a fan of Lenny Boy since I first had their beer at the North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival. Being someone who has been known to drink barely diluted vinegar, I’m also a fan of their kombucha, but the slogan of this blog isn’t “For every thirst, a kombucha,” so we’ll focus on the beer for now.
The three beers I sampled were Rod & Todd Flanders, a Flanders Red Ale with currants; Phantom Vibrations, an American Wild Ale with strawberries; and The Mirage, a Belgian Tripel. I was particularly excited to sample the Rod & Todd Flanders because I love a well-made Flanders Red Ale. Lenny Boy’s did not disappoint – it was fruity and red wine-like, with the currants adding to the dark fruit aroma and flavor. It had the perfect amount of sourness for me in that it was reminiscent of red wine vinegar without being so sour you would worry about heartburn.
The Phantom Vibrations was also amazing and somewhat surprisingly so. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always had nothing but great beers from Lenny Boy, but I’ve had plenty of beers that attempt to use strawberries without quite pulling it off. Strawberries, while being my favorite fruit, seem to be tricky to pull off in a beer based on what I’ve tasted previously. It seems like there is a very very thin line between strawberries being perceptible and being overwhelming. Phantom Vibrations walked that line expertly. The strawberries were present in this Saison that was aged with Brettanomyces Bruxellensis (my favorite kind of Brett, FWIW), but not overwhelming. The combination of the tartness and the strawberries made this a refreshing beer to drink.
I’ve been studying Belgian and French beers this month for my exam in February, so I’ve read no less than three books about Belgian and French beer, particularly Trappist and Abbey Ales. I was excited to try a local version of a Belgian Tripel and was pleased with The Mirage, which is one of Lenny Boy’s flagship beers. It was pale and finished dry, with that characteristically deceptive high carbonation and mouthfeel that made me forget it is an almost 9% beer.
Overall, I went into Lenny Boy already knowing that I liked their beer, so I was just as excited to see the space as I was to drink the beer. Despite the mental anguish caused by the Connect 4 game, I loved how large and open the space was as well as the availability of seating and the friendly bartenders. If you’re not familiar with wild ales or kombucha, Lenny Boy is a great place to go learn more about them. If you are familiar with wild ales, then you will find yourself in good company at Lenny Boy and will still probably find yourself, like I did, delightfully surprised with their creative and elegant beers.
Learn more about Lenny Boy Brewing Company here.