CONCORD, N.C. — Race fans, at least the ones 21 and older, will have a new, specially made brew to try this weekend at the Coca-Cola 600.
Cabarrus Brewing Co. and the Charlotte Motor Speedway collaborated on a fourth edition of a race-related beer, the "600 Salute."
Back when the brewery started operations in 2016, the owners wanted to focus on fostering relationships with Concord-area staples, according to chief financial officer Corey Sloop. One of those staples was Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“We decided to go on further and further by actually [collaborating] and creating beers with them. So, it’s been our goal for every year, every race they do, twice a year, to create two beers for them,” Sloop said.
Sloop started as a bartender at Cabarrus Brewing Co. while attending UNC Charlotte. Now, he manages the books and looks after partnerships like the one with Charlotte Motor Speedway.
This year’s brew label features a patriotic Uncle Sam holding the beer as fireworks go off around it, fitting for NASCAR’s longest race and Memorial Day weekend extravaganza.
“To us it’s who we are as a community. Concord is I think just as much textile as it is NASCAR,” Sloop added.
The speedway and Cabarrus collaborated on 600 Ale in 2017, Redneck Hill in 2018, and ROVAL Rumble in 2022. COVID-19 and fan attendance limits disrupted plans starting in 2020, according to Sloop.
Since the first canning in 2017, Sloop said the brewery’s becoming well-known for creating a new race-themed beer for either of the track’s two seasonal races, the Coca-Cola 600 or Bank of America ROVAL 400.
After growing up locally, it’s also an opportunity to mix work with memories of growing up just down the road.
“I did grow up a NASCAR fan. I actually grew up right on the other side of the track, about five minutes away in Harrisburg. I’d fall asleep every night hearing the cars doing their practice laps,” Sloop said at the Speedway this week.
He recalled weeknight visits to the track with his dad while growing up and his own interest in the sport. This year, the NASCAR-fan-turned-brewery-finance-officer said Cabarrus Brewing sent 3,000 cans of 600 Salute to the Speedway.
“There’s a following, every Memorial Day weekend, we’ll have more guests come into the taproom, looking for this product, looking for — What is Cabarrus Brewing coming out this year with?” Sloop added.
Overall, Sloop said the last several years of collaboration are a "pinch yourself" moment as a brewer and speedway fan.
“It’s definitely a weird, ‘Am I dreaming?’ moment. Because, growing up here so close, being a part of this facility as a child, and then coming out here as an adult, drinking a product that I helped make, is a unique experience,” he said.
2023’s 600 Salute is already for sale in Concord-area stores, as well as at the brewery’s taproom in Concord. Sloop said the speedway-related brews usually sell out the Monday after race weekend.
This year’s beer is an American wheat ale with orange flavors, according to Cabarrus Brewing.