With pioneer breweries like Anchor Brewing and Sierra Nevada calling the Golden State home, it can be said that craft beer culture owes California a certain debt of gratitude. NoDa Brewing Company is no exception. Suzie Ford, one-half of the husband and wife-owned business, grew up in the San Francisco bay area and moved to Charlotte in the '90s to pursue a career in banking. NoDa Brewing's tap room is set to open in October. Alongside partner Todd, she hopes to turn a passion for brewing into a marker of Charlotte's contribution to the microbrewery movement.
Creative Loafing: What's it like starting a business from scratch with your spouse?
Suzie Ford: Well, we just celebrated seven years, and we still like each other. I'm the taste-taster, he's the head brewer. He has very high expectations. Some beers that I've liked, he's poured down the drain. It kills me! But if they're not up to his standards, he's not going to serve them. That's part of the evolution process. We've had some flops that weren't exactly what we maybe hoped for that we were able to tweak and turned out to be great beers.
On your website, it's mentioned that your beer styles "will have a Northwestern feel." Do you think in time you could say a beer has a Southeastern feel, and people will know what that means?
We're carving out a role in this part of the country that people are going to know us for. Eventually, in a few years maybe, I'd love it if we could have a bottling and canning line, so that we can distribute farther than we can right now. Asheville has been named Beer City USA for the third year in a row now, and Charlotte's grown more open to trying craft beer. A lot of people that have been wine fans are now opening themselves up to craft beer. Some people think of beer and they think of what's made by Bud/Miller/Coors, but I think we're going to have enough variety in our beer that it will appeal to everyone. Our tap room will serve an educational purpose. We'll have a different beer on tap every week, and explain the story behind them. The more the customer is educated, the more they'll be willing to try other things and venture out of their comfort levels.
Why did you choose NoDa as home base?
We did not start by thinking NoDa, but the more we looked around, the more we thought it was the best fit. We don't want a hoity-toity brewery; we want a good vibe, rustic, down-home, comfortable to everyone brewery, and NoDa is all of that. It felt so right. It's an artsy part of town, and beer is an art form. Most people don't practice it, they just drink it. But we make it starting with water as a blank canvas. It's art to us. We can't paint, we can't write, but we can brew.