Four years ago, Amy Herman and Corri Smith were having a conversation over beers about how networking events were mostly business-card forward and not their style. “We were like, ‘What if we just met up for beer?’” Herman said.
Two weeks later, the first #instabeerupCLT was held at VBGB, and the concept has helped shape networking among many of Charlotte’s young professionals ever since. On the last Thursday of the month for more than four years, Charlotteans have met up at the free event to drink a beer and socialize. The venue changed each time, with the one rule being that the establishment supports local craft brews.
Rémy Thurston wasn’t at that first meeting as he didn’t live in Charlotte yet, so he had a legitimate excuse. But once he moved from Charleston, he began attending in hopes of spying a cute girl he’d had his eye on (they are now engaged). She wasn’t at that particular #instabeerupCLT, but Thurston found a great group of friends anyway. He started co-hosting the events about a year ago, once Herman stepped down.
Today, we raise a glass and cheers to the end of an era, as the last #instabeerupCLT will be from 6-9 p.m. tonight at Town Brewing. Town Brewing is Wesley Heights’ newest brewery, featuring sours, lagers, stouts and other brews along with small-plate food options.
Herman, Thurston and Smith hope to see everyone who has ever been a part of an #instabeerupCLT show up. There could be a whole lot of lives this thing has touched over the years. They have seen the events go from about 25 people at the inaugural event up to about 400 people. They’ve seen business connections and romantic relationships form.
At tonight’s event, instead of name tags, there will be index cards for people to write their favorite memory of #instabeerupCLT, Smith said. The hosts themselves have so many good memories it was hard for them to say which their favorites might be.
There was the time two people dressed as Smith for the Halloween #instabeerupCLT, including her tattoos and her dog in their costumes. (One of them was Herman). Smith said that memory was definitely one of her favorites.
There was the #instabeerupCLT at Craft, where so many people showed up that they were packed in like sardines. “Being smushed was a good memory,” Herman said. “I met Rebecca Henderson that night and she’s now one of my best friends.” Henderson manages the Charlotte League of Creative Interventionists.
Then there was the anniversary #instabeerupCLT at OMB, and Thurston recalls that, as far as the eye could see, there were people there for the event. “I could not believe that I was part of this giant group of people,” he said. “It was a surreal moment to be a part of.”
The common thread through all of the events was to host them at places that supported local, craft beers. All three hosts have a love of Charlotte’s craft beer scene. None of them could pick a favorite brewery, but they do have beer favorites: St. Tuber Abbey Ale from Birdsong Brewing for Herman, Holy Moly Wild Ale from Lenny Boy for Thurston and Passion Fruit Gose from NoDa Brewing for Smith.
As many good memories and good beers as there are, it is the right time to move on, the hosts said. “What Corri and Amy have set out to do has been accomplished,” Thurston said. “If the three of us had enough time, it would live forever. We all grew ourselves.”
“When we started, we were putting our toes in,” Herman said. “We needed to meet all these people that were like-minded. Now, we don’t need to do that.” This is a clear testament to the success of the event, when the founders who wanted to meet people have met so many that they are themselves too busy to run the event.
“At the end of the day we sort of, not grew out of it, but we sort of did. It’s time,” Smith said. “If you don’t adapt your product, it stops being relevant. We haven’t been able to love it enough to grow it. Let’s end on a high note.”
Cheers, #instabeerupCLT, and thanks for the memories.