Updated: Aug 14
Next time you’re looking for an adventure that will take you off the beaten path, the Ridgeline Craft Beverage Trail is here for you. Thirteen unique producers of craft beverages, two wineries, one distillery, and various breweries can be found outside of Charlotte along the ridgeline of Crowders Mountain and the Catawba River Basin.
Here are the details of one adventurist’s weekend along the trail
Arriving in Gastonia a little after three o’clock, my partner and I headed straight to our accommodations in historic downtown to check in at the Esquire. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this boutique-style hotel seamlessly blends its current use with the historical details of the past. The Esquire offered us all the amenities we needed for this weekend adventure; southern hospitality, a well-appointed guest room, complimentary high-speed WiFi, and a coffee shop located on the lower level for our morning cup of joe. Additional amenities included complimentary breakfast at Barrister’s, their onsite restaurant with a full bar, and a 24-hour front desk.
After a quick check-in, we hopped back in the car and went to Veronét Vineyards for a glass of wine. This estate is gorgeous. Sitting on the front patio, you overlook treetops to Crowders Mountain. It’s breathtaking! Wanting to make the most of our visit, we chose a wine flight and settled into the Adirondack chair to watch the sunset.
Serendipitously, after the sunset, our tummies started to rumble with hunger, so we gathered ourselves to locate the next stop on the trail, Newgrass Brewing, in the town of Shelby.
Our mouths were watering for the food as much as the beer. We settled on the Beer Brat from Suzie Q Farm. This bratwurst is cooked in Newgrass Beer and is served in a warm bun, slathered with Lusty Monk mustard, and served with beer-battered fries on the side. Dinner hit the spot!
With our bellies full, we headed back to Gastonia for an evening of fun at Cavendish Brewing, which we could walk to from the hotel. Very convenient. We did not need our vehicle or an Uber.
Arriving at the same time as the band was warming up, we sat at a picnic table outside in the beer garden to enjoy the music. From the bartenders, we learned things like yoga and trivia are always going on.
We had a great time on the first day of our weekend getaway along the Ridgeline Craft Beverage Trail. We can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow.
After a good night’s sleep, we grabbed a latte from the Notary, located in the basement of our hotel, then headed to Crowders Mountain for a morning hike. The morning was cool and crisp, so it was a less strenuous walk to the top to capture the expansive views, including the Charlotte skyline. After our hike, we cleaned up back at the hotel and then took an Uber to Belmont.
Belmont boasts four locations along the Ridgeline Craft Beverage Trail, making it easy to make the most of the day. First, we tried Jekyll and Hyde, a steampunk-inspired taphouse, grill, brewery, and distillery. After looking at the menu, I tried a burger branded with their logo and crispy onion rings and washed it down with one of their ice-cold craft beers. Jekyll and Hyde feature over 50 taps of craft beer from around the county, including their own brewed onsite.
A few minutes away, tucked along the Catawba River at Riverside Marina, is Muddy River Distillery, the oldest legal rum distillery in the Carolinas. We quickly scheduled our tour via their website, and they offer convenient times every Saturday at 1 pm, 2 pm, and 3 pm. On our tour, we learned that they do everything in-house, including fermenting, distilling, aging, and bottling. Founders Robbie and Caroline Delaney led the outing and shared some history of the distillery, followed by a sampling of delicious and award-winning rum.
Belmont Brewhouse is next to the Muddy River Distillery at Riverside Marina. This brewery offers a diverse selection of handcrafted beers made with unique ingredients - like the chocolate cake stout they had on tap during our visit. They also collaborate with other breweries and home brewers.
Our last stop in Belmont was at Primal Brewery. They’ve created an excellent customer experience with great beer in an atmosphere to match. They offer weekly events such as food trucks, live music, a putting league, and beer Olympics. You’ll want to keep an eye on their event calendar for upcoming performances and fun activities.
After returning to Gastonia, we had dinner at Barrister’s, the Esquire Hotel’s lobby restaurant serving approachable, ingredient-driven cuisine that is thoughtfully sourced from artisan producers and rooted in Southern Appalachian history. We dined at a butcher block table beneath a soaring 20-foot ceiling, savoring our Southern-inspired comfort food.
On Sunday, my partner and I started in Mount Holly at Traust Brewing Company for brunch, offered every Saturday and Sunday from 11:00-3:00. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast bowl and a mimosa. To cap off our weekend experience on the Ridgeline Craft Beverage Trail, we headed to Brick Tree Brewing Company in Lincolnton. About a 25-minute drive from Mount Holly, it was a convenient stop on our way back home. We enjoyed a couple of hours of live music in the outdoor beer garden before wrapping up our getaway weekend on the Ridgeline Craft Beverage Trail.
Plan before you go
The locations stretch between three counties, so plan accordingly. We stayed in Gastonia, but our travels throughout the weekend took us through all three counties. This itinerary is just a suggestion.
Designated Driver. It’s crucial that you drink responsibly and plan to have a designated driver. We can’t stress this enough. Uber and Lyft are always options, but given the distance between some establishments, a DD may be the choice for some travel budgets.