It probably won’t come as much of a surprise to all of our readers that Charlotte is home to several amazing breweries and it sometimes feels like there are as many breweries as there are people. What may come as a surprise, however, is that brewing beer in Charlotte goes back to before the American Civil War. Martin Munzler, born in Germany in 1828, was the area’s first known brewer. In 1859, seven years after immigrating to Maryland, Munzler moved to Charlotte with his wife and their three children. A year later, in 1860, he purchased a plot of land from Major Benjamin Morrow.
The land was situated on the southwest corner of East Trade Street and the “Boundary Road” - eventually renamed McDowell Street. As the name of the road suggests, in 1860, this area was considered the outskirts of the town. Today, this is the area near the Government Center. But in 1860, Sugar Creek meandered through the parcel Munzler purchased, giving him a steady supply of water to start his brewery.
An 1860 advertisement for “Lager Beer of first rate quality” from Munzler’s Brewery. April 24, 1860, The Charlotte Democrat.
Munzler was a native of Bavaria, where monks began brewing ‘lagers’ in the 15th century, and this was likely the kind of beer Munzler brewed in Charlotte. By 1870, Martin stopped brewing beer onsite, but his son, Frederick, later opened a Beer Garden on his father’s property that served “the best Lager Beer, Rye Bread, Smear Kase [anybody know what this is?], etc.”
Martin, his wife Margaret, and their son Frederick listed in the 1880 Census. Martin’s occupation is “Beer Garden.” 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Charlotte, Mecklenburg, NC.
So, there you have it – the origins of beer brewing in Charlotte. And since it’s a summer Friday, it’s a good time to head out and enjoy the heat with a cold, locally brewed beer (if you’re of age of course!)
Until next time – Cheers!
UNC Charlotte Graduate Student
Summer Intern, The Charlotte Museum of History
About The Charlotte Museum of History
The Charlotte Museum of History exists to save and share the Charlotte region’s history, helping create a better understanding of the past and inspiring dialogue about the future. The museum is the steward of the 1774 Hezekiah Alexander Rock House and homesite, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the oldest home in Mecklenburg County. Visit charlottemuseum.org and follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The museum is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
This post is based on an essay by Jeffrey Houser for the Charlotte 240 project, a collection of essays written by Charlotteans that explore regional history and highlight the people, places, and spaces that tell our story. You can find the original article here.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have interesting Charlotte facts you’d like to share or just to provide feedback!
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass