An Eventful October

Free this weekend? Or not free until next? No worries: There’s something to entertain your beer-loving spirit all month long.

NOMA Square, Oct 1-3
The second annual Oktoberfest brings beer, live music and German food to NOMA Square in front of the Hyatt. Keep in mind, this is a cash-only event.

Greer State Bank Greer Station Oktoberfest, Oct 4
A combination of local love and German celebration, Greer’s event features both artist exhibits in the midst German food, beer and music. Sip a beer from Warsteiner or Thomas Creek and join the festivities in downtown Greer.

Quest, Oct 11, noon-8 p.m.
Pair a new German beer with the Mechanical Owl food truck’s German food at Quest. Three bands will also be playing throughout the day, so you can easily pop in at your convenience.

Brewery 85, Oct 18, noon-5 p.m.
If you missed Leon’s Lederhosen Oktoberfest beer during it’s preview period, then you’ll get your first taste at this grand party. Expect a full range of beers, German eats, music and brewers in lederhosen.

Swamp Rabbit’s “Boo”ery Monster Mash, Oct 31
Who says Halloween is a kid’s holiday? Don a costume, sip a beer, and savor Good to Go food truck while you dance the night away to a DJ.

Thomas Creek’s Brewery Bash, Nov 1, 1-8 p.m.
Start preparing your costume now for Thomas Creek’s Halloween celebration. For $20, you’ll enjoy three pints, all-you-can-eat BBQ and beer brats, and music.


Saturday Beer Events x2

You have no excuse to be bored this weekend, thanks to a double dose of beer events:

What’s better than spending a Saturday drinking at your favorite Upstate brewery? Drinking at ALL of them! Swamp Rabbit Brewery in TR is hosting the first annual SC Upstate Septembrew festival to bring together Brewery 85, Thomas Creek, Quest, Blue Ridge and RJ Rockers, along with live music and food truck goodness. Grab your ticket now!

Swamp Rabbit Brewery Septembrew

This popular annual event may often be summarized as a food & wine experience, but they also have a beer garden. Get a ticket for Saturday’s big Tasting Showcase to pair local and regional beers with fabulous foods. Saturday night also brings Traffic Jam, a food truck rodeo with plenty of beer and booze for all. I’ll be at this sold-out event in Brewery 85 shirt, so come say hi!


Craving some craft but not ready to commit to an event? Then stop into a tasting room for a few pints and a tour. I’ll be pouring beer at Brewery 85 from noon-4, so come try the new Leon’s Lederhosen marzen (in short supply!) and Doubtfire ESB.

New Beers on the Way

It’s been a little too quiet around here partly because I’ve been working on some other beer-related projects but mostly because I’ve been busy blabbing on Twitter. Come say “hi” at @SCBeerChick! More posts are on the way soon, including a review of Greenville Growler Station’s Beer 101 classes (a new semester begins tomorrow!) and an update on the Stone Bill.

This past week has welcomed a number of new beer announcements. Here are a few of my most anticipated brews:

River Rat Brewery
As luck would have it, my Mother’s Day visit to Columbia this weekend will include a new beer! River Rat’s Lost Port Porter, brewed with Madagascar vanilla beans, hits the taproom along with live music and BBQ Bus.

Brewery 85’s 864 Saison
It’s a beer release and a party all in one May 17th. This Bavarian-style Weizen boasts a unique recipe, with German hops melding with Southern-grown ingredients.

Seminar Brewery
Florence’s first commercial craft brewery has finally opened its doors! I’ve been patiently awaiting Seminar’s beers since I first stated their work at BrewHaHa last fall. A beer road trip is in order!

Swamp Rabbit Brewery
Nichole is letting secrets slip (thanks!) and tweeted today that Ben Pierson is giving a nod to his Lexington Avenue Brewing days with his Raspberry White Ale. If you hear a release date, please share.

Are you excited about any new beer release? Do tell in the comments!

Swamp Rabbit Brewery Grand Opening

Stop by the bank for a bit of cash Saturday morning before you head to Swamp Rabbit’s Grand Opening Party! Pay the $5 cover charge and from noon-8 p.m., you can drink Swamp Rabbit’s tasty beers from the cash bar and eat amazing food from Huntin’ Camp BBQ and Ellada Kouzina (I highly recommend the gyro sandwich). The Bad Popes’ Jef Chandler and Charlest Hedgepath will be entertaining the crowd with live music, along with David Earl & The Plowshares.

Home Brew at Greenville Hop House

I’ve been fascinated by the idea of home brewing for a long time, chatted with numerous home brewers and tasted finished products, but never sated my intrigue for the home brewing process. Until last Saturday.

Home Brew Setup at Greenville Hop House

Ready for the first steps: Packages of hops, a mash tun with a false bottom (for purchase at GHH) and a kettle

Greenville Hop House Home Brew Setup

Greenville Hop House, my favorite bottle shop in town, is also a home brew supply shop and all-around awesome place. This East North Street store is packed with brewing supplies and frequently hosts Saturday home brewing days.

I hung out for a few hours last Saturday and again on Wednesday to watch my first home brews in action. Manager Andrew Myers and his brew mate, Mike, were kind to explain all of the ingredients, steps and science behind the brewing process.

Ben Pierson at Greenville Hop House

Ben sneaks a peek

This perfectly sunny, warm Saturday saw the creation of a Bell’s Amber ale clone. The all-grain recipe called for both Fuggle and Cascade hops.

As the sparging began, we were treated to a visit by Ben Pierson and Travis Long from Swamp Rabbit Brewery. Ben shared that brewing has begun at Swamp Rabbit and they’re aiming to open the third week of March. I can’t wait to finally try his beer!

A few other chaps dropped by during the brewing process—there is a never a shortage of nice, entertaining beer lovers at Hop House. The three-gallon recipe took approximately four hours from first boil to the final straining into the carboy.

On Wednesday I witnessed the first step of an all-grain, brew in a bag. This convenient and efficient setup entails putting a bag inside the kettle, which closes firmly around the rip and holds all of the ground grains. This day’s brew leader, Stuart, explained that the more finely ground grain ensures you get all of the sugars and eases the clean-up.

I could offer a more detailed description of what went down at each step, but honestly, I was the only one who’d never brewed and am still a noob to the whole process. For some more info about home brewing, check out this link and scroll through the pics.

Or better yet, stop by Greenville Hop House one Saturday and let Andrew show you how it’s done. Follow GHH on Facebook and Twitter to find out the next home brew date.

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Swamp Rabbit Brewery Takes Shape

After the excitement of the World Beer Festival Saturday night, I woke up Sunday to more good times ahead: Swamp Rabbit Brewery & Taproom put out a call on Facebook volunteers and watchers to join them Monday morning as their tanks arrived and were installed.

Tanks awaiting their new home

Tanks awaiting their new home

I set out early Monday morning from Columbia, thankful for the work holiday, and arrived shortly after the trucks were unloaded and local news had packed up. These top o’ the line tanks traveled all the way from JV Northwest in Portland, OR. Although the third truck broke down in Idaho with the brewer’s platform, the team wasted no time setting up everything possible, bringing the brewery one step closer to opening day.

I spent about an hour on the sidewalk, learning about every nook and cranny of this future brewery. The interior boasts a warm, industrial style, with metalwork and a rich wood pattern drawing the eye to the bar. The large sidewalk has patio-seating potential. It was exciting to begin picturing the length of tanks that will be placed right out in the open behind the bar, to imagine the jovial conversations and brew-filled glasses clinking.

Teresa Pierson, General Manager and wife of Brew Master, Ben, was warm and enthusiastic. She answered all my questions and then some. I was beyond impressed with Ben’s brewing resume; there isn’t enough room in this blog to fit all of his accomplishments, from training in Germany to brewing at Asheville’s Green Man and LAB, to even winning a bronze GABF award. And now Traveler’s Rest has the privilege of him brewing in town.

Ben took a short break to chat, too. Dressed in his black “Godfather of Beer” shirt, he shared his plans for the brewery and talked about the beers he has in store. He’s a classical brewer, which shows in his opening day line-up: an IPA, an APA and a witbier. They also have plans for a marzen, and during my visit, a box of chocolate flavor arrived for a chocolate stout.

Ben also talked about the importance of using American-made products, and I was impressed by the local touches—fixtures, artwork and various building elements—within the brewery.20140125-212150.jpg

TR could not ask for a kinder and more experienced brewer to set up shop. This good-natured family proved keen to not only see the brewery succeed, but to make it a valuable asset of the TR community.

I look forward to sharing a beer with this passionate crew again soon, and I’ll be sure to share the official March opening date as soon as I hear.

Follow Swamp Rabbit on Facebook and Twitter for (significantly better than mine) photos of the tank arrival as well as news about this TR brewery.