Beerman for Oct. 4, 2012

A grow(l)ing fresh beer trend?

For Weekly SurgeOctober 2, 2012 

On Saturday evening, I was getting my 32-ounce growler filled at Green’s Discount Beverage, 2850 N. Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach.

That’s when beer manager Tommy Johnson broke the news: His store will be doubling its number of growler taps within the next two weeks.

That means we’ll have an eight-tap growler station on the Grand Strand before Halloween. And more growler stations means more opportunities to buy craft beer in either 32-ounce or 64-ounce refillable jugs, direct and fresh from kegs.

The higher-ups at Green’s, a regional chain, apparently have been happy with the performance of the four-tap station already in operation in the Myrtle Beach location.

The day after I saw Johnson, I was at the 5th annual Oktoberfest at The Market Common, where I noticed Michael Byrd, Piggly Wiggly’s store operator, serving food at a tent. Byrd added two taps to The Pig’s growler station back in June, bringing his number of taps to six. Even with the expansion at Green’s, Byrd said he believed Piggly Wiggly’s six taps would continue to be successful by providing beers that no one else will have.

So who has the advantage?

Local craft-beer lovers win because Piggly Wiggly and Green’s aren’t exactly next door to each other. The Pig is located at The Market Common, which is south of Myrtle Beach International Airport, and Green’s sits miles away at the corner of 29th Avenue North and Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach. Regulars at one store probably won’t be regulars at the other. Both stores stand a chance to grow their businesses.

The way I see it, the Grand Strand’s beer renaissance continues.

Dark Depths

I was so excited about the growth in local growler stations that I forgot to tell you what I put in my growler. I got Samuel Adams Dark Depths, a Baltic IPA.

I detect a twinge of outrage. After all, in my last column, I wrote about Samuel Adams’s Oktoberfest milkshake at Red Robin. Two in a row for one of the biggest craft brewers in the United States – well, that doesn’t quite seem fair.

But, I will argue, Dark Depths is a limited release; therefore, it deserves some attention while it may be found.

Better yet, it’s a righteous pour. As dark as these Depths may appear, the beer’s body and hopping made for a lighter drinking experience than I expected. It’s bold on the booze, too, at 7.6 percent alcohol by volume.

You’ll see it in 22-ounce bottles as well as on tap. Try it.

Leine’s Oktoberfest

I couldn’t make it to the Oktoberfest at The Market Common until Sunday, the third and final day, so most of the beers I wanted to try were gone. Some went quickly, on Friday evening, I was told.

That being said, Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest proved to be worth the trip to the Oktoberfest in Piggly Wiggly’s neighborhood – despite my residence only two blocks from Green’s.

I’ll own up to my palate. I liked Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest for its sweetness. The toasted and roasted flavors of many microbreweries’ Oktoberfests are fine and good, but not for everyone.

Lately, they haven’t been for me, either. I’ll make a brief comparison between toasted and roasted flavors in beers and unsweetened flavors in coffee. When I first started my three-year stint as an espresso-maker and coffee-brewer, I thought the bold way to drink a double shot of espresso was to drink it straight. Add no sugar. Man up and swallow down.

I maintained this stiff-spine approach until I read an account of a visit to a roadside espresso stand in Italy. Into a single shot of espresso, a man poured two or three tons of sugar. My no-sugar approach turned out to be less than authentic.

All this calls to mind the former brewer at Liberty Steakhouse & Brewery, Eric Lamb, who once said Pabst Blue Ribbon was his favorite beer. It’s a relatively sweet beer. Another relatively sweet beer is Gordon Biersch’s Marzen, an Oktoberfest style and a personal favorite.

Sweetness in an Oktoberfest beer isn’t a bad thing. Really, it fits, considering this is the month for candy.

Crafty-fest

No offense to the recently departed Andy Williams (may he rest in peace), but October, not Christmas, is the most wonderful time of the year.

It’s the time of year when The Crafty Rooster Beer Fest returns, this time running 5-11 p.m. on Oct. 12 and noon-10 p.m. on Oct. 13.

The fest features more than 100 beers, local artists, and live music, all to be located in the old farmer’s market area behind The Crafty Rooster at 1125 Third Avenue, Conway. Be there.

Contact Colin Burch at beerpour@yahoo.com and visit his blog at http://maltyhops.blogspot.com.

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