Family-owned and the first of its kind on the East Coast, Summit Seltzer meets the Queen City.
Kristin Cagney, a longtime fan of laid-back atmospheres and the craft aspect of beer, always dreamed of owning and operating a brewery. However, she had to adjust her vision accordingly when she met an immediate challenge. Charlotte’s alcohol market is saturated with indoor and outdoor breweries and venues that are already established favorites in the community.
“I didn’t know where to start to properly differentiate myself until I noticed my friends and family making the switch from beer to seltzer. I joked with my friends about opening a ‘seltzery’ and they kept telling me how good of an idea it was.”
Summit Seltzer opened earlier this year in the burgeoning Wesley Heights neighborhood, near Noble Smoke and Not Just Coffee.
The inspiration behind Summit’s name, image, and aesthetic stems from Cagney’s personal life and interests. She’s a social butterfly and outdoor fanatic who loves to ski.
“Beer was too heavy and hard alcohol hits just a little too hard,” says Cagney. “Seltzer became my go-to drink at the top of the slopes.”
A Colorado resident for ten years, Cagney finally landed in Charlotte for several reasons. The people and the culture of the city captured her interest, and the untapped market for seltzer cemented the deal. As of now, Summit Seltzer is the only establishment in town that offers a wide variety of house-fermented hard seltzers and seltzer-based cocktails.
When you walk inside Summit Seltzer today, the wood-paneled ceiling and warm light reflect design features typically found in ski lodges and cabins. The large venue, with both indoor and outdoor seating. Doerre Construction built the space and Tim Finein of Peadon and Finein designed it.
A first-time consumer will inevitably find a craft drink they love with Summit’s extensive beverage menus. If you’re missing summer, try Pinknetic, a light and refreshing blend of tropical fruits with a pink tint. Bootz W/ the Fur is a fall seltzer with hints of caramel and cinnamon for a warmer taste. Summit also offers draft beers from neighboring breweries, such as Town Brewing’s Broken Tarted fruit sour, and their own house-made classic cocktails crafted with a seltzer base.
From Corporate Cubicles to a Self-Owned Seltzery
With the seltzery up and running, Kristin Cagney’s day-to-day has undergone a serious transformation.
“My fear of going back to corporate kept me going with this dream. Now, I’m working for myself.”
Once used to a typical workday in a small cubicle, she now finds herself attending virtual brewing conferences, grabbing extra supplies that are needed in the taproom, learning new bartending techniques and fermentation science from brewmaster Ben Quinones, and running a business with her family. “Summit is 100% family-owned. My father is our only investor and a glorified busboy. My mom is our CPA and my brother bartends part-time.”
In the future, Cagney, her family, and the team they’ve cultivated hope to open a second location in addition to an offsite distribution facility, but the current focus is making sure Summit has a solid foundation in their drinks and taproom. “I still wake up sometimes feeling like I’m living some dream life,” she says. “It’s truly amazing.”