Wooden Robot Brewery Continues to Bring New Flavors to South EndApril 11, 2018 6:27 am
What is your middle school best friend up to these days? While most of us would need to do a quick Facebook search, the owners of one of South End’s successful breweries don’t need to look much further than the other end of the bar. Wooden Robot Brewery, a microbrewery at the corner of Winnifred Street and Summit Avenue, is owned and operated by Florida natives and middle school best friends Josh Patton and Dan Wade, who opened the brewery in 2015 after years of separate careers.
Patton brings the business background to the brewery through his experience in corporate banking while Wade has the brewing knowledge through his years working at Swamp Head Brewery in Florida and his time spent in Scotland getting a masters degree in brewing at Heriot-Watt University. The pair knew they wanted to open a brewery and decided on South End in Charlotte after Patton had lived in the neighborhood. After serving their first beers three years ago, the same few brews are still going strong.
“Our first three, which are still our current three we have on all the time, are Good Morning Vietnam, our Overachiever Pale Ale and the What He’s Having IPA,” says Patton.
The Good Morning Vietnam, a light beer that brings together the flavors of coffee and vanilla, is Wooden Robot’s best-known beer and top seller. While the three core beers have helped solidify Wooden Robot’s spot on the Charlotte brewery scene, the brewery is constantly innovating and testing out new flavors to keep patrons coming back.
“We also like to keep a variety,” says Kristen Merkl, marketing coordinator for Wooden Robot. “At least one dark beer, something malty, a couple hoppy beers, something lighter, some sort of sour.”
The taps aren’t the only thing that you’ll see change at Wooden Robot. The brewery is smaller than many in Charlotte and doesn’t sell bottles or cans, which Merkl says gives them more flexibility to try new things and make small tweaks to the recipes. Wooden Robot was recently able to switch things up by starting to source some of its ingredients from North Carolina providers.
“We just recently switched to one hundred percent local malt out of Epiphany Craft Malt in Durham,” says Merkl. “Once you switch malt it’s going to switch a little bit of the profile with the beer. Those are things we’re excited to do.”
Along with changes to their beers, Wooden Robot recently expanded into more flavors with its new restaurant, Kre8 Gastropub. The restaurant is a collaboration with chef Rob Masone, who owns the catering business Kre8 Xperiences and had formerly served food at Wooden Robot through his food truck Twisted Eats. When Wooden Robot was able to expand into the space next door, the team decided it was time for a kitchen and an expanded menu that includes sandwiches, charcuterie boards, bao tacos, and a section called “all the things” to encapsulate everything else.
“His beer cheese is pretty incredible,” says Patton. “He makes that with the What He’s Having IPA that we do so it’s our beer cheese which is kind of cool.”
The restaurant opened in late March and has already drawn in more patrons to the brewery to try flavors like beer boiled mac and cheese in the Bosshog Mac & Cheese Eggroll and beer-injected duck in the Drunken Duck Quesadilla. Whether it’s a new beer or seasonal food item, the ever-changing options at Wooden Robot have kept Charlotteans coming back for more – which is why Wooden Robot will be expanding with a second location in 2019.