Creative Loafing’s 2nd Annual Moo & Brew Craft Beer and Burger Festival takes place at the AvidXchange Music Factory on Saturday, April 16. The festival will offer samplings from over 30 local, regional, and national breweries as the Queen City’s best restaurants compete for the coveted title of “Creative Loafing’s Best Burger.” As an official sponsor of the upcoming event, we’re profiling some of the breweries and restaurants you’ll rub elbows with, like Raleigh’s own Big Boss Brewing Company!
Big Boss was formed in 2006 when Geoff Lamb, a UNC graduate, joined forces with Brewmaster Brad Wynn to craft beers that are “designed to be appreciated, but crafted to be enjoyed.” Wynn has over 12 years of brewing experience, including extensive stays with Victory, Wild Goose, and Native Brewing Company.
I sat down with Aaron Gore, Big Boss Brewing’s brand rep in Charlotte, and talked beer, burgers, and where to find the best of both in the Queen City.
So, how did you get into the beer business?
Aaron: I, like so many people in the beer industry, got into this field as a way to escape another career. I had done Enterprise Change Management (a long term for exceedingly boring IT work) for a Fortune 500 company and realized that the office environment wasn’t a good fit for me. By going into sales, I could make my own schedule, interact with people on a more direct basis, and see tangible returns on my work.
Unfortunately, I picked insurance to sell, and while the money was good, I came away with this terrible feeling of trying to push a product on people that they may not have wanted or needed. That’s when I decided to turn my passion for beer into a career. Instead of contract documents and monthly payments, I would be selling people something that I knew would make them happy. That’s a good feeling, and one I’m never going to trade in.
What’s one thing about Big Boss that people might not know?
Aaron: We have an extensive selection of barrel-aged and sour beers all aged right there in our brewery. If you ever get the opportunity to visit our taproom in Raleigh, just ask for our current selection from the Strange Cargo series to try what are some of the most unique and refined beers in the entire state.
Which beers are you bringing to Moo & Brew?
Aaron: We’ll be showcasing two of our year-round beers. We’ll be pouring our High Roller IPA, which is an American IPA with a solid malt backing to help balance the hop bitterness, and our Hell’s Belle Belgian Pale Ale, which has all of the floral, fruity notes one would expect from a Belgian beer, with enough backing from the hops to make it refreshing and crisp. So basically, exactly the two beers you would want to drink on a warm day with good company!
What’s your favorite beer?
Aaron: Ironically, my favorite is probably the one we are most well-known for. Our Bad Penny Brown Ale is a little sweeter and nuttier than is typical for the style, and shares a lot of flavor real estate with the Scottish Wee Heavies that made me fall in love with beer in the first place. We just received a 94 rating for Bad Penny in Draft Magazine, beating out nine other brown ales from across the country. It makes it a whole lot easier to sell a product when it really is that good.
What’s the weirdest pairing of beer and food you’ve tried?
Aaron: I ran a Beer and Chocolate tasting event a while back, and we paired Double Barley’s Chocolate Raspberry Stout with a Five-Spice Milk Chocolate Truffle. That’s a ridiculous amount of bold and unique flavors that just melded into a homogeny of deliciousness. As for something truly crazy, I made a beer reduction sauce using Brooklyn Brewery’s phenomenal BLAST! IPA and tomatillos that came out equal parts meaty, nutty, and citrusy. It made a great sauce base for homemade Shepherd’s Pie.
Speaking of food and drink, what are some of your favorite spots in Charlotte?
Aaron: I love this city. I’ve only been in Charlotte for about seven months, but it already feels like home, and for me a big part of that is just how inviting it makes it go out and be among your fellow Charlotteans. All of the bottle shops are great, but the Craft Tasting Room has a great selection of charcuterie and a ton of taps, all in a great environment, and the Common Market in Plaza Midwood has the best atmosphere and vibe of just about any bar I’ve ever been to.
As for restaurants, Nana’s Soulfood is some of the best country cooking you could ask for, and Midwood Smokehouse is outstanding for classic BBQ. As for breweries, it would be tough to choose just one since they are all so solid, but Triple C is doing some amazing things in South End. The newly opened Legion Brewing in Plaza Midwood is one of the most fun taprooms to grab a beer at and relax.
And what about burgers? Any you’re excited to try at Moo & Brew?
Aaron: I think I’m most looking forward to Crafty Burg’r n’ Tap. It was already on my shortlist of places to check out the next time I grab a drink at Ass Clown Brewing’s taproom.
If you could have one person try your beer, who would it be? What would you recommend?
Aaron: Understanding that I am an enormous beer nerd, I would choose Michael Jackson, the writer not the pop star, to try one of our beers. Jackson almost single-handedly created the language we use to describe beer styles and wrote by far the most important and influential books on the subject. Having him try one of your beers would be akin to being a musician and having Mozart listen to your composition.Keeping that in mind, I would recommend our Bad Penny Brown. As an Englishman, he should be able to appreciate a good brown ale, especially one that hearkens back to its historical form so well, better than most.
Whether you’re an Englishman or a Charlottean, you can enjoy Big Boss Brewing’s well-made beers at the AvidXchange Music Factory on Saturday, April 16. And don’t forget to stop by the AvidXchange booth for fun and games!