A few months ago, there was some chatter that the expansion of Charlotte’s Olde Mecklenburg Brewery into more of the South Carolina marketplace was imminent. “Weeks,” I was told by a couple of people in the know, but as time went by, nothing came to fruition. That changed last Friday.
Sources at both OMB and their distributor, Comer, have confirmed that the traditional German-style brewery will enter the Columbia market within the next two weeks. (Comer also represents Charlotte’s Four Friends and NoDa breweries.) The rollout will begin with both draft and bottles of OMB’s flagship Copper altbier and their Captain James Jack Pilsner. Both beers clock in at a sessionable 4.8% ABV. Seasonal releases will also be available, but only at a select few accounts.
OMB is a juggernaut in the Charlotte beer scene. I was once told the brewery sells more beer in the Charlotte area alone than NC-based Duck-Rabbit sells in its entire East Coast coverage area. OMB recently announced plans to move into a much bigger brewhouse – or more appropriately, brauhaus – and have been constantly expanding their output since opening in 2009.
Additionally, their expansion further into SC is interesting due to the pride they take in their product’s quality and freshness. The beer is brewed strictly in line with the German Reinheitsgebot laws – save for some Americanized and barrel-aged variations – and distributed only in Charlotte and some nearby surrounding areas, including the Rock Hill and Fort Mill areas of the Palmetto State.
Because freshness is paramount of the brewery, they’ve worked out a deal with Comer to deliver their beers to the distributor once a week instead of once a month, which is commonplace for many breweries. This means the freshest product possible will be available for Columbia consumers.
“We hold fast to our plans to be a local brewery,” said OMB Director of Sales Ryan Self. “You may someday see the beer an hour or two outside of the brewery, but only if we can deliver it as fresh as we do to Charlotte. If that proves impossible, we’re quite happy to remain hyper-local.”
Self also issued the following statement about the expansion:
“OMB has always taken pride in three things first and foremost: Our beers being the highest quality; being served fresh; and being brewed locally. Customers will vary in what they consider local: some in Charlotte consider only Charlotte-brewed beers to be local, some only consider North Carolina beers to be local, and others apply the ‘local’ tag to regional beers such as SweetWater and RJ Rockers. Ultimately, we are excited to serve Columbia, a fast-growing craft beer scene that has embraced beer made in the Carolinas, and to send this market fresh beer every week. Columbia is a little farther away than we’re used to, but they’ll get the same beer, made fresh and delivered fresh every single week.”
Note: This post has been updated and clarified from an earlier version.