Kit’s Trackside Crafts

Both Sides Now

Two bottle shops make Pineville a beer destination

By Amy Rogers | Photos by Ray Sepesy

Drive down Main Street in Pineville in search of a craft beer and no matter which way you turn, you’re in luck. That’s because there are two well-stocked bottle shops with great selections of brews on tap —and they’re situated directly across the street from each other, right near the railroad crossing. They share some similarities, but each has its own personality and appeal.

Pintville was first on the scene in 2015. Kit’s Trackside Crafts is newer. It opened in late 2016. Pintville is larger with live music and lots of events. It can seat up to about 80. Kit’s is smaller and quieter, designed to foster beer education and the art of conversation. It can seat about 50.

Each has its own vibe but what they share is a true dedication to an optimal experience for a beer drinker, whether that person is a novice, an expert or somewhere in between. Both are run by “certified” beer scholars. (Don’t laugh: The Cicerone Certification Program issues credentials to those who must pass classes in the brewing process, the keeping and serving of beer, flavor evaluation, food pairings and more.)

Kit Burkholder

Kit Burkholder, whose shop is named for him, grew up in south Charlotte. An unexpected career change allowed him to start working at the Harris Teeter in Ballantyne Commons East, where the self-proclaimed beer geek served patrons at the in-store bar (Ballantyne featured him in “Who Knew?” in the fall 2015 issue). That led to opening his own place.

Burkholder has attained Certified Cicerone status, which makes him one of fewer than 3,500 experts worldwide to reach the second level of four total. He’s on his way to achieving the next-level Advanced credential, with a goal of reaching Master status.

At Pintville, Joey Abate hails from Florida, where he worked in a beer store that required passing a rigorous knowledge test to do his job. He is acting store manager and beer specialist for Pintville under owner A.D. Duggirala, who took over from the original owners this year.

Kits Trackside Crafts

Hundreds of Brands

The bottle shops aren’t breweries because they don’t brew beer on their premises. But each establishment includes a rotating selection of locally made brews on tap in addition to hundreds of brands of ales, pilsners, porters, stouts, lagers and more.

The best reason to visit a well-stocked bottle shop is to sample the unfamiliar and cultivate new tastes. A cicerone can make recommendations based on his or her knowledge, combined with a customer’s personal preferences.

It can be intimidating to confront labels from all over the world. Burkholder explains, “Customers will ask me, ‘What’s your favorite beer?’ I’ll answer, ‘All of them — but I still don’t know what you’ll like.’”

There’s an art to teasing out what will appeal to an individual’s palate. For example, Abate could recommend trying a “sour” beer brewed with wild yeast. He says sours are underappreciated, but a taste for them is worth developing. “Nobody is born liking anything. But it opens up a whole world of beers,” he notes.

There’s a distinction between craft beer and mass-produced beer, and it’s not just about unique or unusual flavors. “An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional,” according to the Brewers Association, a national trade group for small and independent craft brewers. These days, adventurous drinkers can enjoy a wider array of flavors than ever before as brewers add everything from coffee and chocolate to oyster shells to their products. There’s even a citrusy beer that tastes like key lime pie for those who want “dessert in a can.”

Pintville

Beer Ranks Big in N.C.

It seems there’s a new brewery or taproom opening every time you take a look. That’s not an exaggeration. As of 2017, North Carolina had 257 craft breweries, putting the state eighth in the U.S., according to the Brewers Association. The state ranks 11th in craft beer consumption at five gallons per adult annually. (For comparison, neighboring South Carolina ranks 28th and 41st, respectively.)

Both locally and nationally, India Pale Ales, shorthanded as IPAs, are especially trendy right now. These hoppy brews were developed with a higher alcohol content to protect them during transport to Britain in the 19th century. Also fashionable are beers aged in bourbon barrels; these brews take on the flavors of the wooden barrels. Patrons line up when limited-edition brews, such as Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, are released annually.

Joey Abate

Both Kit’s and Pintville are family friendly. Kids can play games while adults sip a beverage. Neither place has an on-site kitchen; Kit’s features small plates from the Community Culinary School of Charlotte, while Pintville often hosts food trucks. Patrons are welcome to bring in food at either spot, and wine aficionados will be happy to know each locale offers a small, well-curated list of selections.

While some patrons prefer one of these shops over the other, plenty of people frequent both. And one thing is certain: The mastery that these local experts have attained is helping everyone understand and appreciate the ever-growing world of craft beer.

Pintville

Local Spots to Sip

Intriguing Brews

Brawley’s Beverage

For years, this family-owned store has been a neighborhood spot to find specialty beer. Now it’s been updated with a bright, modern facade, patio and live music. No food is served, but patrons may bring in whatever they want.

4620 Park Road

Charlotte, NC 28209

704-521-1300

www.brawleysbeverage.com

Carolina Beer Temple

Rob and Megan Jacik were traveling in Belgium when they learned just how devoted to beer a country can be. Motivated to share that fervor, they opened their own place when they returned home. CBT offers sandwiches and wraps from The Southern Gourmet, and other outside food is welcome.

131-1C Matthews Station Road

Matthews, NC 28105

704-847-2337

www.carolinabeertemple.net

Growler USA

With 104 taps, a beer aficionado could try two different brews per week — and literally not repeat a single one for an entire year. A full kitchen on-site offers made-to-order beer bites, burgers, sandwiches and sides.

Toringdon Circle

12206 Copper Way, Suite 124

Charlotte, NC 28277

704-910-6181

www.growlerusa.com

Kit’s Trackside Crafts

Literally next to the railroad tracks, this taproom has a mellow vibe that’s perfect for pleasant conversation or deep discussion about all things beer, mead and cider-related. There’s a small but good selection of prepared foods from the Community Culinary School of Charlotte. Customers may bring in food as well.

330 Main Street

Pineville, NC 28134

704-956-3008

www.tracksidecrafts.com

Pintville

An unassuming storefront opens to a lively gathering spot for serious beer fans, who also like to lighten the mood on trivia nights or during live music events. Food trucks visit often, and a helpful blackboard lists the closest restaurants for patrons who want to bring in something tasty to eat with their craft beverages.

329 Main Street

Pineville, NC 28134

704-835-1089

www.pintville.com