On Saturday (Aug. 31), the House of Blues hosted its 2nd Annual Brews, Blues and BBQ. The stylish furniture and swank decor of The Deck and the Craft Beer Lagoon makes for the perfect setting for a beer festival. But, we weren’t there for the décor; we were there for the beer, the spectacular southern barbecue and the live music. And this being the House of Blues – we were not disappointed.
There was no cover charge for the night, but for $5, patrons received a commemorative House of Blues 20th Anniversary tasting glass. Also, tickets were sold for the beer and barbecue samples, which ranged from $1-$4.
Event-goers were treated to some late summer heat and humidity, which gave way to cooler temperatures as the sun set. The Deck was arranged with beer and food tables around the perimeter. Smokin’ Hot Southwest Grill, Sticky Fingers, Big KT’s BBQ and the House of Blues’ Crossroads Restaurant provided an assortment of delicious pulled pork sliders, saucy ribs, smoky brisket and sausage subs, along with potato salad and baked beans.
The House of Blues and its Craft Beer Lagoon, which are committed to providing patrons with high-quality handcrafted brews, created the beer list with variety and seasonality in mind. So, after purchasing some tickets and staking out some prime seats in the shade – I made the rounds, checking out what was available. There were a few draft options showcasing some fall favorites, such as Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale and Sam Adams Oktoberfest. There were also some fall seasonals sprinkled in with the bottled offerings, including Razor’s Wit from Highland – a spicy witbier – that while not exactly a traditional fall seasonal, is more my speed than the usual pumpkin beers and Märzens.
Regional beers definitely made up the majority of the offerings. Myrtle Beach’s own New South Brewing was represented by its flagship White Ale, while Thomas Creek brought its winter warmer – “Seven Swines a-Swigging” from its Piggly Wiggly-branded “Pig Swig.”
Beers from our neighbors in North Carolina included the imperial stout from Duck-Rabbit, Rabid Duck; Hot Rod Red from Fuquay-Varina’s Aviator Brewing and Hoppyum from Foothills Brewing of Winston-Salem. Asheville was represented with the aforementioned Razor’s Wit from Highland. Rounding out the N.C. brews were a pair from the new-to-S.C. Lonerider Brewing – out of Raleigh, with its Peacemaker Pale Ale and the outstanding Sweet Josie Brown ale. A pair from Terrapin – Tree Hugger and Monk’s Revenge finished out the regional beers.
My first choice was the Duck-Rabbit Rabid Duck, a 10 percent ABV jet-black imperial stout. It’s definitely a sipper – complete with toffee and licorice notes and a lightly sweet finish that lingers on the palate. I sipped my Rabid Duck and filled my plate with a brisket slider from Big KT’s. The imperial stout paired well with the dark, smoky flavors of the barbecue and provided some balance with the tanginess from the barbecue sauce. Craving something a little lighter, my next beer was the Peacemaker Pale Ale from Lonerider. While not a super-hoppy pale ale, it provided a nice, crisp way to wash down the rest of my smoky pork.
As the band, Perkins Road, fired up and starting cranking out some down-and-dirty blues, I again ventured over to the beer tables and this time filled my glass with a pour of the Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier. Considered a classic example of a hefeweizen, it pours a cloudy yellow and tastes of clove and banana.
The 75 or so people that were in attendance while I was there can attest that the folks at the House of Blues know how to party. I found that the blues really does mix well with great barbecue and good beer.
Local Breweries Expanding
Across the country, craft brewers are expanding to keep up with the increasing demand for their beer. It’s no different in our area. Two Coastal Carolina breweries are in the midst of expanding their capacity. New South Brewing of Myrtle Beach and COAST Brewing of North Charleston are adding tanks and equipment to meet the needs of thirsty South Carolinians. New South Brewing welcomed the arrival of a brand new stainless steel fermentation tank on Aug. 27. The 60-barrel tank will give the brewery the ability to ferment an additional 1,800 gallons of beer.
“The first advantage of the new tank will be to simply allow the brewery production to run much more smoothly and efficiently,” said Brock Kurtzman, Head Brewer of New South Brewing. “The other advantage, which I am looking forward to the most, will be the added space to create new seasonals and specialty beers.”
Meanwhile in North Charleston, COAST Brewing is also working hard at increasing the brewery’s output. The first piece of the expansion, a new boiler, was delivered on Aug. 26. The brewery plans on expanding from a 7-barrel system to a 30-barrel system, which will mean knocking down a concrete wall in the brewery to make way for new fermentation and bright tanks. But this will also mean that many more beer drinkers will be able to enjoy COAST’s beers.
Brew at the Zoo, Too
A new local event has been added to the craft brew calendar, the second installment of Brew at the Zoo, at Brookgreen Gardens will feature 30 craft beers, live entertainment, a stroll through the Lowcountry Zoo and food from Louis’s at Sanford’s. It is scheduled from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Sept. 28. Purchase tickets at Brookgreen, online at www.brookgreen.org or by calling 235-6016.
Contact John Garner at MBCraftBeer@gmail.com and follow him at www.facebook.com/TheNewBeerman.