Have some spare time on a weekday? Then help out at Thomas Creek Brewery! I can speak from experiencing bottling there that it’s hard work, but worth it, and everyone on staff I met was extremely nice.
I’m probably the last person to have tried these seasonals, but here’s my take on some of the latest new beers to grace Upstate SC taps.
After being teased by test batches months ago, I was exited to try the official 864 Weizen at WheatFest in May. This Bavarian-style hefeweizen hits all the right notes, with banana and clove flavors and a refreshing effervescence.
With a darkness nearing purple, this Belgian Quad offers fig and raisin flavors with a lighter mouthfeel and minimal carbonation. It’s no Yeoman’s, but it’s pretty darn good
I’ve heard from a lot of folks who love this one, but it’s my least favorite of the summer options. The initial aroma is heavy on the jalapeno scent, but there’s only a small amount of heat on the finish. The major flavor is an earthiness that didn’t settle with my tastebuds.
Unlike the Tolba offering with nigh-impossible to detect blueberries, the Strawberry Wit encapsulates the summer fruit in both a sweet aroma and a light flavoring. This is the perfect summer beer.
Raspberry White Ale
I’m not a big raspberry fan, so I didn’t have high expectations for this. Much of the fruit comes early on, with raspberry tartness fading to a wheat finish. It was a good beer, but not my favorite of this batch.
Crashed websites make my day job hard to complete, so I stopped by Twitter for some entertainment and distraction. Are you following Daniel Hartis, author of Beer Lover’s The Carolinas? You should be! He’s a wellspring of Carolina beer knowledge, news and entertainment, such as this latest attempt to make #beerbooks happen:
I love when two worlds—my literary background and my beer love—collide, so come join us on Twitter and add your favorite beer-themed book titles. You’ll find me @SCBeerChick.
You can never have too much learnin’. I recently participated in the Greenville Growler Station‘s Beer 101 semester: three weekly, one-hour classes. Offered throughout the year alongside other educational series, such as style-centric classes or pairing courses, Beer 101 covers the history of beer, the various styles of beer and the basics of beer and food pairings.
When I arrived to my first class on a Wednesday evening, I was welcomed by manager Pierre Goulette and Jon Richards as the first student—and perhaps the only one. While the class usually enjoys a dozen or more eager participants, I somehow managed to be the only student for the first two sessions. The one-on-one approach was a bit odd (courtesy of me, the anxious, awkward one in the pair), but Jon was a champ!
Jon and I settled into the sunset-lit seating area for the first lesson and first beer. Yes, one of the joys of Beer 101 is that you both learn about beer AND drink it! Each class features at least five samples to go along with the lesson.
My Cicerone-certified teacher was eager to teach, not intimidate, was entertaining and was kind to answer my questions about both the topics at hand the store in general.
Always intrigued by history and having recently watched How Beer Saved the World, I thoroughly enjoyed the first class. The second class on styles was perhaps my favorite because it’s a topic I’m eager to expand my knowledge of. And the final class on pairings, which was blessed with three friends of mine and four new faces, offered many gems that have inspired summertime party plans.
I highly recommend this casual, educational and tasty set of classes. You can sign up for the semester of three courses ($25) or pay for each class individually ($10). Follow Greenville Growler Station on Facebook or Twitter for news of the next Beer 101 sessions.
The Stone Bill has successfully assed the House (unanimously) and Senate (one nay)! Go out to your local brewers and have a pint to celebrate this great day for growing the beer industry in South Carolina!
Yesterday was a historic day in South Carolina. The Stone Bill not only got through the conference committee, but an agreement was reached between the South Carolina Brewers Association and the South Carolina Beer Wholesalers Association. And this isn’t just a deal. It’s a BIG deal. But, what does it actually mean?
Time was short yesterday with all of the activity, but through a flurry of tweets (https://twitter.com/brookbristow), I tried to explain some of what the deal actually meant. But, let’s try to go beyond 140 characters. First, the highlights. Then, an explanation (if applicable).
Here’s the agreement:
- Instead of putting the new language in the brewpub section of the South Carolina Code, the language will fall under the tasting/sampling/brewery operation section. This provides the wholesalers with many protections, including territorial restrictions, and no termination of contracts without just cause. Those protections are crucial to protecting wholesalers.
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The Greenville News has a thorough article on the Stone Bill’s latest standing: http://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/news/politics/2014/05/27/battle-brewing-today-craft-beer-bill/9623327/
Wesley Donahue has tweeted that a compromise was reached, but no news has been officially published yet. Prior to the meeting, Wesley shared that the SC Beer Wholesalers Association wasted no time working the lobby before the committee. If I were a corporations with fears of little brewers starting to think they could distribute beer on their own, I would have been playing the politicians fiercely as well. At least Wesley had something good—though brief—to say about the compromise.
For all my criticism of @SCBWA, they’ve come up with a good compromise. More deets later.
— Wesley Donehue (@wesleydonehue) May 27, 2014
The six-member committee meets today to discuss the bill, and scbeerjobs.com is set up to send them all an email and let them know how much we support this bill. Head to the site for another quick sign-up to shoot this new group a message about how you want to see more jobs in South Carolina.
As would be expected, Anheuser-Busch has finally reared it’s gigantic head at this well-meaning bill, claiming that new laws allowing our state’s few, small brewpubs to produce more beer and distribute on their own threatens the three-tier system that overwhelmingly works in their favor. Let these representatives know that the locally minded, community-invested, creative brewers behind our craft beer industry deserve to have some of the current distribution, production and sales limits relieved from them so they have more of a chance to compete with the monopolizing AB InBev.
If you haven’t seen the letter AB InBev sent out a few days ago, head here: http://beerstreetjournal.com/read-anheuser-buschs-lawyers-fight-stone-bill/
What’s a visit to Columbia without a stop at River Rat? I headed to town two weekends ago specifically for
the release of the Lost Port Vanilla PorterMother’s Day weekend festivities, and was happy to spend an afternoon with the beers and brewers I adore.
After a successful launch just two months ago, River Rat Brewery has wasted no time expanding across South Carolina. Their beers have been on tap at Growler Station, Community Tap and Greenville Hop House, and I’ve had a few growlers of the Broad River Red Ale at home. Coincidentally, River Rat entered the Charleston market this past weekend while I was visiting; it was exciting to hear commercials about their beer while I was driving through the Holy City.
The latest release, the Lost Port Vanilla Porter, boasts smooth drinking with a little smokiness, a little bitterness and a lot of rich vanilla that deliciously lingers. The dark brown color and milky head give way to an unexpectedly light-feeling beer. Oh, what I’d do to have taken home a whole keg of this one!
The beer offerings aren’t the only things to change around the brewery. A gravel parking lot has transformed into a grassy escape, with picnic tables, a vast deck and room for a band. I ate lunch with brewmaster Drew–I’d had the luck of running into 2 Fat 2 Fly food truck and getting some mac-and-cheese-stuffed wings–who filled me in on the latest happenings and gave me a tour of the facilities. The biggest difference is that brewer Mark left and has been replaced with Tyler Pawelkop, a seasoned beer rep. Oddly enough, Tyler recalled our meeting back at the Community Tap Beer Festival, when he was working for Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery.
Another big difference inside: barrels. A lot of them. I was giddy to see the collection of Woodford Reserve and Jack Daniels barrels in the brew space, patiently waiting to be filled with a River Rat creation. Barrel-aged stouts are one of my favorite beers, yet River Rat doesn’t currently offer a stout. Maybe they have a new beer brewing they haven’t mentioned? Or perhaps a staple such as the Hazelnut Brown or the Moncks Corner Abbey Ale will find a new home? The barrels were filled this past Tuesday, so hopefully we’ll find out soon!
While the beer is spectacular, half the fun of going to River Rat is the people: Mike wasted no time playfully scoffing at my Brewery 85 shirt, Logan and Tyler entertained at the bar, and Drew indulged my questions for more than an hour.
If any Greenvillians want to hop down to Columbia for a day at River Rat and Conquest (and Swamp Cabbage, perhaps by summer’s end), let me know!
I’ve spent the last two Wednesday evenings enjoying a one-on-one beer class with Jon at Greenville Growler Station. I encourage you to join me for the last class, focused on food and beer pairings, this Wednesday, May 21st. The hour-long class begins at 6:30 and costs only $10. Who wouldn’t love an hour of eating and drinking?