Beer Culture Baby Steps: How Charlotte Found Bud
Soccer culture is an indescribable thing. Made from the sum of its parts, no single aspect can tell the story. And while the chants, marches, pre-game meet ups, and in-stadium moments are important, the beverages you share are just as vital. That brings us to Charlotte FC. Charlotte are the new Queens on the block, with fresh faced energy and a desire to take on the MLS world. Before they could truly arrive though, fans and supporters had to decide what kind of beer said, “Mint City.”
“Honestly, it was like choosing a logo for the team. You wanna get it right the first time and you need it to represent the city.” - Don Strost, Mint City Collective member.
Don added, “A lot of the lads loved Triple C Brewing, and another huge contingent lobbied for Birdsong Brewing Co. At the end of the day, we all agreed that it was too niche.”
What Don and many of Charlotte’s new fans decided was they wanted to cast a wide beer net that was large enough for nearby Myrtle Beach to get behind. Ownership had a plan of their own:
“They wanted Coors, and they wanted it bad.”, said Allison Easterly of nearby Emerald Isle.
“Bank of America and Coors have a long history together, so it made sense from that perspective, but the blind taste test with Amstel wasn’t even close.”
Then came the C-Lot Crew. C-Lot (see: Charlotte) had sprung up after some early internal battles between Mint City Members. Looking to form their own, independent supporters’ group, C-Lot Crew president Isaac Morse wasn’t gonna stand idly by while his team selected a corporate beer like Coors, or Amstel, to identify with the club. Isaac was good friends with Triple C Brewing’s brew master Kenny O’Brien, so his allegiance was clear.
“Kenny has a nose for hops and a brain for numbers. I don’t know how we could choose a beer to be the beer of Charlotte FC and not go Triple C.” Isaac recalls.
Don Strost had a different perspective, “It’s really easy for Isaac Morse to say we need to go with his friend's brewery, and I respect that. But the logistics of being the top choice of Charlotte FC fans is so much more than which beer is the best. Could Kenny deliver to the entire region in a way that an Amstel could? Kenny knows hops, but I’m not sure he knows logistics.”
Things came to a head when the front office met with both supporters’ groups and representatives from five different beers. The only local beer invited? You guessed it, Triple C. Numbers and names flew across the projected screen showing what would be needed and what the fans desired. The tension was thick.
Mint City’s Allison Easterly remembers it well. “Isaac and Kenny started to look nervous. I think they realized they had bit off more than they could chew. They whispered to each other for several minutes until Isaac raised his hand to speak.”
“I said; we’ll meet you halfway.” recalls C-Lot president Isaac Morse. “We can agree to Bud Light.”
Charlotte’s front office beamed; a national brand that could handle the distribution and would be pleasing to fans. It felt like a no-brainer. Beyond a winning drink that Charlotte FC fans could rally behind, it seemed to have mended some fences as well.
Don Strost remembers; “We hugged it out. Life is too short and we both knew it was the right choice for this club.”
“I’ve definitely shared more than a few cold Bud Light’s with Don and Allison since this all went down. Craft beer isn’t bringing these different worlds together like that. That’s what Bud can do.”, Isaac said.
With the short but serious ‘beer wars’ all but over, the supporters turned back to the business of soccer. The culture isn’t built overnight, and a club’s beer can’t win games on the pitch. But each new battle will feel much more winnable for these fans who decided compromise quenches their thirst the best.