Taking in the Olde Mecklenburg ambience

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It’s Wednesday, and the after-work crowd has arrived at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. Twenty or so folks populate the bar, with another 40ish at long community-style tables. Switch the music from the current Lake Street Dive and feed me some more Fat Boy Baltic Porter, and I’ll have a hard time knowing what country I’m in.

Former carpet-warehouses shouldn’t feel like they’re carved from innenstadt Dusseldorf. Dark-kilned irregular-shaped brick forms the perimeter walls. Rich wood hugs on the perimeter. A soft glow flows overhead from spartan chandeliers and the same lighting temperature permeates through wall sconces. I lack only a fireplace in January.

Me, I’m perched in a corner vantage point, and everyone else is fresh from their jobs. There’s no uniform; my hoodie-clad brethren at the bar rub elbows with the button-downed corporate types. The bike rack outside is somehow populated despite the grey outside.

Oddly, there are TVs irregularly spaced; five that I can see. It’s either ESPN or NFL Network, but everyone’s more interested in the faces in front of them. Cell phones are even hard to spot. Great, now I have a hard time establishing timeframe.

I’ve wisely listened to friends and didn’t skip on the Sriracha wings. Think German food and you may imagine a sausage tray. Right now, Olde Meck’s the only non-brewpub spot in town to offer house-made food whenever they’re open. My only regret is rubber-grippy pen-parts don’t like saucy fingers, and I’m onto another ink color after dinner. Maybe next time I’ll have a salad or burger; at worst, double down on wet naps.

The beers — flagship Copper, crisp Capt. Jack Pilsner, silky Fat Boy Baltic Porter, roasty Dunkel, peppy Southside Weiss, caramel Mecktoberfest. Considering Copper pays the bills, the metal’s minimal involvement in taproom décor is surprising. Before OMB opened, the only other real place to find an Altbier was Dusseldorf.

I half expect to see Hemingway in another corner, and not just because Fat Boy begs for a cigar. He asserted that everything else in Germany, save Munich, was a waste of time, but I assume he may make an exception for this clean well-lighted place.

With that last sip of Copper on my lips and my jacket pulled tight, I venture back into January’s darkness. I walk to my car, down the concrete sidewalk through the empty biergarden and past the lonely fire pit.

Ahead, the lights in the brewery sharply bathe the gleaming stainless steel. A brewer mans the fort; from the smell of the air, he just started the boil on another batch of Copper. I’ll have to come back when it’s done. Next time I’ll have a burger if I plan on more writing.

At home, I write down the names of all other breweries onto small squares of paper, neatly fold them, and place them into a hat. After a few shakes, I draw one at random to determine where to visit for my next column.

Sycamore Brewery, I’ll see you in February.

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