Myrtle Beach beer columnist bids farewell

For Weekly SurgeJune 25, 2013 

Summertime is the season for lighter beers with touches of citrus and other fruits.

While I’ve usually scoffed at the idea of fruity beers, I’ll admit some of this summer’s offerings, distributed locally by Better Brands, Inc., have me curious. Well, even a bit excited.

First there’s Southern Tier Plum Noir. This is an imperial porter – which isn’t the first beer to come to mind for summer. However, Plum Noir’s recipe includes Italian plums. With a flavor described as “mild coffee bitterness, a delicate malty sweetness with hints of caramel and a dry finish,” this boozy beer hits 8 percent alcohol by volume – and might just be the perfect palate cleanser for a red-meat meal.

Next, there’s Southern Tier Compass, described as a “bottle conditioned sparkling ale with rose hips.” Substitute this one for the champagne toast at summer weddings. Let’s be honest -- the “bright citrus” flavor, “floral notes” and 9-percent alcohol probably will taste better than champagne. Why do we toast with that stuff anyway?

Third, we have Coronado Frog’s Breath, which also promises “bright citrus flavor” from its hopping – and from the bonus of “Kaffir lime leaf, lemon and orange zest.” This is an India Pale Ale I will hunt down, and at 6.5 percent, if I really like the first one, I can survive another. And another. And…

Fourth, Coronado Orange Avenue Wit is a “light-bodied” wit bier featuring “orange zest, coriander and orange blossom honey.” At 5.2 percent, Orange Avenue Wit can be guzzled. It might just be the cure after mowing the lawn in Horry County’s summer humidity.

Craft Deck

The House of Blues at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach recently created a new section with a focus on craft beer.

The Beer Lagoon on The Deck is a new lounge area featuring fire pits as well as a selection of craft beers on tap.

Make it your next happy-hour stop.

Seven-year retrospect

My seven years as Beerman have been fun, and now it’s time to move on. While I will continue to be a local advocate for craft beer, I am stepping down from my post as the Surge’s libations expert. I want to try some new things, and I need to devote more time to some other areas of life.

Hey, I have a full-time job, three children, and a dog who once trained as an escape artist and a long-distance runner.

The availability and understanding of craft beer along the Grand Strand grew rapidly during the past seven years. I’ve been the fortunate front-row spectator to the local Beer Renaissance.

Since Editor Kent Kimes gave me the opportunity (many thanks!) to write this column for the inaugural edition of the Surge in the summer of 2006, dozens of beer-related changes have taken place in the Myrtle Beach area and South Carolina. Here are just a few:

- Josh Quigley, an original force behind New South Brewing Co. and Liberty Steakhouse & Brewery in Myrtle Beach, opened Quigley’s Pint & Plate, a brewpub, in Pawleys Island.

- Gordon Biersch, a brewpub chain, opened a new location at The Market Common on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base.

- Piggly Wiggly at The Market Common opened a massive craft beer and import section with a growler station.

- Green’s Discount Beverage (2850 North Kings Highway) and Beach Discount Beverage (2204 North Kings Highway), both in Myrtle Beach, started growler stations.

- The Market Common hosted the inaugural Myrtle Beach Beer Fest and the following three before the event moved to House of Blues at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach.

- New South Brewing Co. of Myrtle Beach, a provider of kegs of its micro-brew to bars and restaurants, began canning its White Ale, and then its Nut Brown Ale.

- The State House passed a bill that allowed a higher alcohol content for beer, and former Gov. Mark Sanford signed it into law.

- Lawmakers also allowed microbreweries such as New South to provide samples and sell beer in conjunction with brewery tours.

- And recently, Gov. Nikki Haley signed a law that allows New South and other microbreweries to sell full pints of beer in the brewery.

- Mellow Mushroom in Myrtle Beach and Crafty Rooster in Conway hosted beer-pairing dinners and other craft brew events.

- In addition to participating in the local beer fests, The Myrtle Beach Area Society of Homebrewers (MASH) folks have demonstrated home-brewing techniques at New South’s facility.

Incredible, no?

Nowadays, the Grand Strand has a strong craft beer identity. I’m happy to have reported on its growth. I’ll see you around. Cheers!

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