Erik Lars Myers and Sarah H. Ficke are brave souls. That's because they've penned North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries, a comprehensive guide to one of the Tar Heel state's fastest growing industries. Now in its second edition, released in May, the husband-and-wife writing team has now doubled the pages from the book's debut copy released in 2012. Charlotte and its growing brewery scene has a lot to do with the extra time they've spent in front of a computer. The couple will visit NoDa Brewing Company on June 9 to speak and sign copies of the book.
Myers, the current president of North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild, opened Mystery Brewing Company in Hillsborough, North Carolina back in 2012 after homebrewing for more than a decade. On the brewery's menu, folks will find historical and literary nods as beer list offerings. The brewery's popular "Six Impossible Things," a chocolate coffee breaksfast stout, was named by Ficke, who mused over a line from Lewis Carroll's Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Creative Loafing: Do you think Charlotte has become a craft beer hub?
Erik Lars Myers: I would say that it is kind of a craft beer hub now. You typically see a lot more of the artsy cities — Seattle, Portland, San Francisco — being the big craft beer hubs. I'm not sure that Charlotte will ever have that vibe entirely. I think it'll always be a little bit counterculture in Charlotte, but I think that's one of the things that makes it great in Charlotte. There's a fair amount of counterculture inside this big banking city and it's really pretty great.
Do you think breweries will be able to keep their doors open despite all the competition within the industry?
Myers: People talk about bubbles all the time but I'm not sure that we're anywhere near that. I think we've got plenty of room to grow. There's more wineries in North Carolina than there are breweries and there's certainly way more wineries in the country than there are breweries. So, I don't know that we're anywhere near a bubble [bursting]. I think you have to have good quality beer in order to succeed, especially right out of the gate. But, overall I think we'll still go through the industry growth for quite a few more years.
In regard to readership, is the book targeted at "beer nerds" or newcomers to the craft beer scene?
Sarah H. Ficke: We wanted it to be something that people could pick up to learn about beer, and North Carolina beer specifically, but also just craft beer in general. I didn't really know anything about beer until I met Erik who was home brewing at that time. He introduced me to the different styles of beer and I learned that there were a lot of different things out there and there were some that I liked and there were some that I didn't. We wanted people to be able to have that experience, so we put in things like the glossary of beer terms so that, when we're using technical things to talk about the breweries, people can look that stuff up and they don't have to feel like they are being excluded because they don't know what a fermentor or something like that is. When we were writing it, we were thinking about how to make it interesting and approachable and kind of fun for anybody, not just the people who feel like they already know everything about beer.