“We really try to pay attention to the neighborhood we’re in and bring an idea and an offering that fits that neighborhood,” Phil Buchy said. “Every neighborhood in Charlotte is completely different. We don’t want to just cookie cutter out the concept. The menu offering and the beer selections we’re going to do at Trolley Barn will be completely different than what we offer at our other locations.”
Preserving the past
For this location, that meant preserving the building’s past as a repair facility for Charlotte’s trolley cars, which started running in 1891. The trolley tracks still cut through the concrete floor of the building, and the yellow beams of the five-ton track crane — once used to lift trolley cars — stretch across the ceiling. Between the tracks and the crane, seven-barrel stainless steel fermenters are stacked on top of one another — but you won’t find a brewhouse.
Instead, the brewery will do as it has in SouthPark. The Plaza Midwood location will brew the wort, or unfermented beer, and then it will be pumped into a transfer van equipped with a stainless steel tank mounted permanently inside. And that’s one of the reasons this location has been dubbed a “fermentory” instead of a brewery.
“We’re calling it a fermentory, not just because we’re fermenting our own beer there,” Buchy said. “We’re fermenting new ideas. This is kind of like our think tank. We get to branch out from the Legion branding. We’re pretty open and try new things at Legion, but we want to give ourselves license to be more flexible and creative with the beers we’re putting out.”
Innovative beers, cocktails and food
You won’t find Legion’s core beers like Juicy Jay IPA at this facility. Instead, Trolley Barn will take the wort that was brewed at Plaza Midwood and ferment it, often with different fruits or dry-hop additions. You’ll almost always find an IPA on tap, or a clean lager, but expect a lot of styles to rotate through Trolley Barn’s taps. After fermentation, the brewery will pump the beers into the six horizontal serving tanks that sit above the bar. All beer served at Trolley Barn will be dispensed directly from these tanks.
The freedom to go beyond the Legion branding will apply to the brewery’s cocktails and food menu, as well. While the brewery will have a full-service kitchen where you can order at the bar or from your table, the food hall-inspired menu is broken out into three distinct food stalls.
Green Works offers salads and grain bowls, Daily Shift Food Co. slings sandwiches, tacos, wings and other “handheld favorites,” and Brand & Steel features “innovative cuisine and wood-grilled meats and fish.” The Atherton Farmers Market has moved into the courtyard beside Trolley Barn, and the brewery plans to incorporate fruits and vegetables from the market into its dishes.
Legion offers cocktails at its South Park location, but Buchy said it’s an area in which the brewery “hasn’t flexed our muscles yet.” South End provides an ideal space to do just that.
“It was the perfect neighborhood to add that as an amenity to the space,” Buchy said. “We’re excited about coming up with our own new creations, but we’re also going to have a lot of classic cocktails from the early ‘20s.”
Trolley Barn’s second-floor mezzanine offers a view down the Rail Trail and into uptown Charlotte, and it’s here the space will offer more high-end, mixologist-made cocktails that are exclusive to the upstairs bar.
Location: 2104 South Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28203
Neighborhood: South End
Hours: Monday through Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sunday from 10 a.m.-9 p.m.