Myrtle Beach beer columnist tops local tap competition

For Weekly SurgeSeptember 17, 2013 

Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery announced the winners of its inaugural homebrew contest “Wanna Get Tapped?” on Sept. 6 during Happy Hour. And even though I couldn’t attend, Liberty Head Brewer, Mike Silvernale notified me that my entry – a Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter, had taken the top prize. Honored and humbled by the announcement, I met Silvernale and General Manager, Dave Thurber in Liberty's brew house later that evening for a photo op and a discussion of what will come next – the brewing of the winning entry on Liberty’s 10-barrel system.

Not only will we have the task of scaling the recipe from a mere five-gallon batch to 250 gallons, but we're also faced with the logistics of using copious amounts of powdered peanut butter and chocolate. The brew day is scheduled for later this month and there will be a tapping party near the end of October, when the public will be invited in to try the winning beer. I'll be behind the bar pouring it, so once a date is decided upon by Liberty, I will invite you all to come out and taste our unique brew.

Even though my beer was crowned the grand prize winner, it was an extremely close contest. And having tasted some of the other entries at our last homebrew meeting, this came as no surprise. Members of our local homebrew club, the Myrtle Beach Area Society of Homebrewers (MASH), brewed all three beers that placed. Steven Riddei's Oatmeal Vanilla Porter was a close runner-up – behind only by 2 points over the three rounds of judging. Pouring a midnight black, Riddei's porter has a delicious cream soda aroma and taste – thanks to a healthy dose of vanilla. Third place went to Kristen West and her Big Belgian Brown, a Belgian strong brown ale. Big and boozy – but not overly sweet – her beer defines a well-crafted Belgian ale.

"We were surprised at how strong the competition was. We ended up with 16 entries and there were some really exceptional beers to judge. It was really hard to pick a favorite – luckily we had some talented judges who helped us score the beers," said Silvernale. "We are very pleased with the turnout on our first competition and are excited to brew Jilly's (that’s me) Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter and serve it to our customers."

MASH Meeting at the Pig

The day after the announcement at Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery, the members of MASH met up at the Piggly Wiggly at Market Common for its monthly meeting. A longtime supporter of local homebrewers and craft beer in general, Michael Byrd, Store Operator, graciously donated the space and the food.

Fifteen homebrewers mingled and talked, ate and sampled homebrewed ales and commercial beers. The food was prepared with a beer theme in mind – a cheese and fruit tray served with beer-infused crackers, and as an entrée, two phenomenal meat dishes - a pork loin with a hard cider au jus and a beef top round, marinated in a Great Divide Oatmeal Yeti Imperial Stout sauce. Grilled balsamic vegetables and Potatoes O'Brien rounded out the meal.

Many members brought homebrew to share, including newcomer Phil Boden's brown ale - a tasty nut brown ale with brown sugar notes, Royce Green’s roasty coffee stout, my Headless IPA - a peachy, hoppy and bright India Pale Ale, and Joe Novak's Rye Saison and mouth-puckering Berliner Weisse. Everyone present agreed that this meeting, the food and the beer were a huge hit.

The Third Annual Brewing at the Beach has been scheduled for Nov. 16 at New South Brewing. Join us for an afternoon of homebrewing demos and tastings. If you are a homebrewer and want to get involved in MASH or even if you are considering the hobby, join our discussion on Facebook at

New Fall Seasonal from Sierra Nevada

Our soon-to-be neighbor in North Carolina, the iconic Sierra Nevada Brewing, has a new offering this fall – Flipside Red IPA. Pouring a deep ruby hue, this is a hoppy, sticky IPA that balances its bitterness with a biscuity, brown sugar malt backbone. Brewed using two-row pale malt, wheat, caramel and chocolate malts, Flipside is generously hopped with a combination of Simcoe, Citra and Centennial hops. Billed as the "perfect beer for the final flash of summer," it certainly seems that Sierra Nevada has hit the nail on the head. Six and twelve-packs are available around town, and if we're really lucky, maybe a few kegs will pop up at our local growler stations, bars and restaurants in the very near future. I highly recommend giving this one a try.

Local events a-brewing

There are several other beer-centric events coming up where you can get your craft brew fix. This month, you can look forward to Brew at the Zoo, coming up Sept. 28 at Brookgreen Gardens. Oktoberfest celebrations kick off with The Crafty Rooster’s Oktoberfest Party on Oct. 3, followed the next day with the beginning of the Myrtle Beach Oktoberfest at Valor Park at Market Common, which runs through Oct. 5. The Downtown Myrtle Beach Oktoberfest is on Oct. 12, featuring live music, food and of course, beer.0

If you feel like taking a trip, Wilmington, N.C. Beer Week starts on Oct. 12 with events around town and culminates with the annual Lighthouse Beer Festival on Oct. 19. For more information on these and other upcoming events, check out

Contact John Garner at and follow him at

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