Here in North Carolina, 2023 has seen the introduction of two boozy takes on iconic state beverages: Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea, which we have already sampled, and NoDa Cheerwine Ale, which we saved to try on National Beer Day.
Cheerwine is a cherry-flavored soft drink created in Salisbury, North Carolina, in 1917. It a popular soft drink in the Southern United States, especially here in its home state. It is a burgundy-colored, sweet, syrupy, carbonated drink with a very strong flavor of artificial cherry.
It was of great interest when NoDa Brewing Company in Charlotte, North Carolina, partnered with Cheerwine to produce a beer inspired by the soft drink. NoDa is the North Davidson neighborhood in Charlotte that is one of the city's main arts and entertainment districts.
NoDa's take on a Cheerwine beer uses a 5.2% ABV wheat ale as the base, which keeps it light and crisp. We've been disappointed by cherry wheat beers in the past, and unfortunately, our losing streak continues. We didn't really care for this beer.
At first pour, NoDa Cheerwine Ale is cloudy and golden with a light pinkish hue that tells you immediately that something is up. The head is thin, white, bubbly and is dissipates quickly. Then you smell it, the cherry-syrup aroma of Cheerwine. NoDa absolutely nailed that experience, which we think is crucial in a tribute beer of this kind.
The beer has a distinct cherry taste that is not too sweet or strong but is very familiar to those who know the soda. The beer is not dominated by the soda. What ruins it for us is the waxy, bitter finish that hangs around way too long. That aftertaste is not pleasant. And don't let this beer warm up as it starts to develop some unpleasant off-flavors.
If 2023 has taught us anything, it's that not every Southern beverage translates into a boozy brew. But we hear tell of a Moon Pie Stout brewed by Naked River over in Tennessee....