How to sample beer made with ingredients found along Little Sugar Creek Greenway this weekend

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On Sunday, April 29, a four-mile stretch of road winding through five Charlotte neighborhoods goes car-free from 1-5p.m. for the sixth and latest installment in the Open Streets 704 series. Over 25,000 attendees are projected to walk, bike, skate, or otherwise self-power their way through the NoDa, Plaza Midwood, Belmont, Optimist Park, Commonwealth and Villa Heights neighborhoods, completely free from automotive interference.

Considering the route runs past many of Charlotte’s breweries, it’s no surprise that several of these outfits are choosing to commemorate the festivities with a special brew. What stands out is the scale of this group effort: five breweries are collaborating on a common Pale Ale base, with an interesting addition of locally-foraged ingredients.

Open Streets 704 Route

Prepare for five iterations of “From Here To There,” which may be the most “local” beer that the Queen City has seen.

Back on April 16, folks from Birdsong Brewing Co., Free Range Brewing , Heist Brewery, Legion Brewing Company and Salud Cerveceria hopped on their bicycles for a leisurely ride along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway and Freedom Park. This wasn’t purely a social gathering: participants had one eye on the path, and the other scouting for beer ingredients.

“We decided the greenway would a really good approach that also fit with the whole concept of getting out and connecting with your community in a way that is not vehicle-based, that can be done in groups, with foot-power,” explained Free Range’s Jason Alexander.

No, you’re not going to find rows of barley or hop bines strung along the trail; these gatherers acquired whatever was seasonally available. Results weren’t guaranteed, per Alexander.

“The seasonality of foraging changes almost daily, based on dryness, rain, sunshine, and temperature, so it’s pretty dynamic,” he said.

Birdsong opted for dandelion, Free Range incorporated pine tips and flowers, Heist utilized wisteria, Legion gathered rosemary, and Salud Cerveceria used lemon balm.

Additions of botanicals are nothing new to beer-making; references to unhopped beers made with foraged herbs date back to the 10th century.

Open Streets 704 had originally approached the brewers with ideas for a competition, but talks quickly took a communal tone. Inspired by Beers Made By Walking, which advocates for beers built using found or foraged ingredients, the participating breweries settled on splitting a common batch with each brewery lending their own foraged flair to their allotments.

Open Streets 704. Courtesy of the City of Charlotte.

Malts were locally sourced, with grain hailing from Durham’s Epiphany Craft Malt and Asheville’s Riverbend Malt House. Each participating brewery along the route will be pouring their unique variant alongside the base beer, described as a “nice, easy-drinking hoppy pale ale” dry-hopped with Citra and Mosaic.

There’s only seven barrels of the collaborative “From Here To There” beer, so walk, ride, skate, or simply stroll over to one of the five participating breweries for a unique and very literal taste of Charlotte.

Featured photo: Free Range Brewing

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