Some Election Statistics

Did you make it to the polls today? This year IMG_1619.JPGSouth Carolina joined the rest of the US in allowing liquor sales on Election Day, making it easier for you to prepare a stiff drink after waiting in line.

If you felt the need to throw back a beer or several, you aren’t alone: I found these interesting stats about beer and campaign money while sipping a Pumking. Do you think we spend too much on political campaigns? Beer?

I’m for more investing in what the people want… and the people I know want quality craft beer!

 

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Drinking Asheville: Day 1.2

{See how my night got started with Drinking Asheville: Day 1.1}

Once again, I climbed up Coxe towards Hi-Wire Brewing, set just a block off the main road, its entrance harboring a little crowd despite the crane looming above their heads as someone worked on the brewery’s sign. Though the darkness hampered my ability to take photos, I could still revel in the interior’s whimsical theming. The bar, walls and tables were covered in a mix of blue, red and natural wood, highlighted by the bright signage and coasters.

A kind, bearded bartender took my questions and poured me the Bed of Nails Brown (not as malty as I usually like) and the Hi-Wire IPA, which I loved once the initial punch of grapefruit and hops settled down.

I also tried the red wine barrel-aged Belgian, the first of new Elephant Ringmasters series that bartender described as “fancy beers.” Aged in first-use, French-oak Zinfindel barrels, this beer took on a rosy tint and a tart flavor. The aim of the series is to bring one-off beers made with high-quality products, so look for more additions in the near future.

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[Apologies for the lack of photos going forward, as the scene was too dark to capture anything.]

By now it was at least 10 p.m. and I was strongly considered returning to my hotel. With a final heave, I tackled the rest of Coxe to stop at Thirsty Monk. Though I’d originally planned to stay longer at this epic beer locale, the upstairs was ferociously hot and somewhat busy. With a quick sip of Appalachian Mountain Brewery’s Black Gold Porter, I headed across the street to my final destination: Jack of the Wood.

The heavy doors opened to loud banjo plucking as a bluegrass band wooed a dancing crowd. The pub was uncomfortably dark, making it hard to see what was on tap, so I sought the bartender for advice. I accidentally got a full pour (rather than a small pour) of the casked ESBmy favorite Green Man beer served unpasteurized and unfiltered. I imagine this rich, uncarbonated beer would do well in a bourbon barrel (can’t we just put everything in bourbon barrels??).

Ultimately, I was glad for the large drink because it made me stick around to both enjoy the music and the hilarious antics of a drunken, birthday-celebrating trio… the first of whom almost toppled me over as he came swerving towards the bar. Complaints about poetry and “old” age (from these 27-35 year olds), free Fireball shots, pleas for Denny’s, carrying* the inebriated** away from traffic: these are the stories adventures are made of!

*Carrier = sober me
*Inebriated = my swerving, pancake-obsessed friend for the evening

Drinking Asheville: Day 1.1

(An explanation of where I’ve been this summer)

Laura Huff of Carolina Epicurean contacted me weeks ago about participating in the Asheville Beer Bounce beta. Huff needed a group of dedicated drinkers to test a new online program that uses QR codes to check into breweries; nine locations had agreed to participate and offer special sample-sized pours, with a percentage of sales going to charity. Naturally, I was in.

On a Thursday eve, I set off to the southeast’s Beer City idol with instructions in hand and a new app 20140727-225457-82497874.jpgon my phone. With walkability in mind, I found a parking spot on Coxe, the perfect place for tackling the southwest segment.

Sauntering into the first stop, Burial Brewing Company, felt like walking into someone’s house party. Conversation spilled from the worn, house-like facade. Burial, a nano-brewery in the process of expanding to a 20-barrel system, had a small but tasty selection. The night started with Tong & Fork Belgian Amber, a mix of two of my favorite styles, as well as a Sickle Session IPA and the Cemetery Gates Belgian IPAa Pisgah collaboration that had an unexpected meaty umami.

The creator of the program I was testing happened to walk in the tasting room at the moment I was struggling with my first check-in. What luck! His group also mentioned there was a food truck around the corner at Green Man Brewing. You know how I feel about food trucks.

Eager to try as many stops as possible, I headed around the corner to Green Man. Despite a long-standing love of their ESB, I’d never actually been in the brewery. The tasting room offered a sizeable bar, various tables for gathering and games, a dart board, and two TVS: one playing The Originals and another with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Interesting variety.

Sweet Molly behind the bar poured me a Leaf Blower, and I headed through the long, covered outdoor space to order from Taste & See. Talk about a perfect combination: pork belly sliders and sweet potato fries and beer! Here, I had the pleasure of meeting both Mrs. Huff and John Pepper, a bounce participant and co-founder of Boone Independent Restaurants. We chatted about our towns and restaurants and favorite brews while I finished off my Patersbier and Porter.

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With night falling, I said my goodbyes at Green Man and set on the road to my next stop: Hi-Wire Brewing. But the bright lights of Twin Leaf beckoned me to detour and try this brewery I’ve been following since before it opened.

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Brightly lit and filled with natural wood furnishings, Twin Leaf offered a quiet pauseuntil the crash of the life-size Jenga game signaled a winner.

I took a seat alone at the large bar with a smooth, rich Mexican Chocolate Stout (one of my favorite beers from the whole night), and by the time I left, I’d made two more friends. Sam, owner of The Ale and the Witch in St. Petersburg, FL, began chatting with me after he saw me writing at the bar. He introduced me to his wife and talked about his bar while I told him more about the beer bounce, Asheville and Greenville’s beer scene.

But the night was middle-aged, and I still had plenty of other brews to discover.

{Follow the rest of the night’s drinking antics at Drinking Asheville: Day 1.2}

New Brew Review

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.

Brewery 85

Country Quad from Brewery 85

864 Weizen
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.

Country Quad
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

Quest

Ponce from Quest BreweryPonce
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.Strawberry Wit from Quest Brewery

Strawberry Wit
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.

Swamp Rabbit

Raspberry White AleRaspberry Wheat Ale at Swamp Rabbit Brewery
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.

#beerbooks

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:
Twitter #beerbooks
I love when two worldsmy literary background and my beer lovecollide, so come join us on Twitter and add your favorite beer-themed book titles. You’ll find me @SCBeerChick.

Growler Station’s Beer 101 Course

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.

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The beer poet waxes eloquent about brewing history

When I arrived to my first class on a Wednesday evening, I was welcomed by manager Pierre Goulette and Jon Richards as the first studentand 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: WHAT THE COMPROMISE ACTUALLY MEANS

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!

BEER OF SC

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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.
  • Breweries…

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Stone Bill Compromise Reached?

Stone Bill Decision Today?

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 goodthough briefto say about the compromise.

If you are not already following Wesley, Brook Bristow and the South Carolina Brewers Association, then I encourage you to do so to get the latest information about the bill.

Stay tuned!