Kit's Trackside Crafts at 330 Main Street in Pineville, North Carolina, opened the week of Thanksgiving and has been highly anticipated, at least in my household. I've been a fan of Kit's since I first checked out the Ballantyne Harris Teeter bar after having heard about the "beer guy" at Harris Teeter who was also a Certified Cicerone®. I had seen on various social media platforms that he was opening a tap room and bottle shop in Pineville and had been following its progress closely.
My first visit to Trackside wasn't planned, but I found myself in the vicinity on Black Friday - "the vicinity" being an impromptu stop at Frugal MacDoogal on my way to NoDa Brewing for their Hoppy Holidays release and thinking that I was already sort of pointed in the direction of Trackside so I was basically almost there anyway. Trackside is, appropriately enough, directly next to the railroad tracks that run through downtown Pineville and is right across the street from Pintville.
Before we even get to what I thought about Trackside, let's talk about the bountiful parking in downtown Pineville. There are two free public parking lots near Trackside - one just behind the building and one right across the street - as well as street parking. When you're used to hunting and vying for parking spots around Charlotte, you almost can't believe how easy it is to find parking in downtown Pineville.
But enough about parking, you're saying, what about Trackside? The first time I went in, I was one of a handful of people there. After perusing the selection (about 300 different types of beer), I sat down at the bar and spotted a cask behind the bar. When I see a cask at a bar, I get excited. Whatever is in a cask will almost always be something you (or I) haven't had before. I was not disappointed. It turned out to be a cask of Fortnight Brewing's ESB. Fortnight is a brewery located in Cary, North Carolina, that focuses on UK beer styles and does a great job with them.
Also, I had literally just finished a book on British beer that morning as part of my "buckle down and study for the Advanced Cicerone" holiday weekend. Because there was fortuitously a cask of British style beer available at Trackside, I was technically still studying by ordering one.
After I finished my (half pour) ESB, I ordered Ballast Point's Red Velvet Cake on nitro. This is where my already favorable impression of Trackside went through the roof because my glass was so effing beer clean that it set my heart aflutter. I think every beer nerd has at least one pet peeve when it comes to being served beer and my main one is being served beer in a dirty, i.e. not beer clean, glass. I have been known when I'm out enjoying beer to text pictures of dirty glassware to my friends:
I was so pleased with the lacing on my beer clean glass at Trackside that I took multiple photos of it and even texted one to my husband:
Not that I needed any confirmation about Kit's dedication to beer and creating a positive and well thought out environment for enjoying beer, but this glass (along with overhearing him explain to some other customers the lengthy process he used in selecting his glass washer and detergent) convinced me that Trackside was a place where beer drinkers of any level were going to consistently have an amazing beer experience. Let's call it exbeerience, okay?
In the same vein of creating a well thought out environment, the actual interior of the tap room is very cozy and inviting. I'm a fan of old buildings, so I loved the exposed brick and exposed beams. The bartender, Diana, told me that Kit's dad, Trackside co-owner Bill Burkholder (along with business partner Le Ann Fenton), made the long wooden bar himself as well as the tables. I'm not great at estimating the length or height of things, so let's say it's 100 yards long. Seriously, though, it is a massive bar and you need to see it in person to truly appreciate the workmanship and skill that must have gone into making it. The atmosphere is very warm and laid back and reminds me a lot of a neighborhood bar I used to frequent when I lived in Chicago called Off the Tracks. It was also right next to the railroad tracks, so maybe I just have a thing for drinking beer near railroads?
I enjoyed my exbeerience there so much that I suggested that my husband and I go back the next weekend so he could see what I had been raving about. We went back on a Friday night to find ample parking and a full tap room. This time Founders Red's Rye IPA was on cask and it was equally as delicious as the Fortnight ESB that had been on cask the week before. Even though the tap room was quite a bit busier than the first time I was there, Kit and his staff were incredibly attentive to everyone there and made sure to stop and chat with all the patrons.
Even if you're not in the Pineville area, I highly recommend making a trip out to Trackside. If you're a beer nerd, you'll find yourself in good company with Kit. If you're not a beer nerd or if you're a beer novice, Kit and his team will make you feel welcome and give you all the information you need in a friendly and accessible way to ensure your exbeerience is amazing.
Also, did I mention the parking?