Beer columnist’s chocolaty, peanut butter brew now on tap at Myrtle Beach’s Liberty

For Weekly SurgeOctober 28, 2013 

John “Jilly” Garner. Courtesy photo.

A crowd filled the bar area at Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery on Oct. 24 for a chocolaty treat with a peanut butter kick that was definitely no trick. However, instead of eating an actual peanut butter cup, they were drinking pints of Officer Reese's Chocolate Brownie Peanut Butter Porter - the winning brew from Liberty’s inaugural homebrew competition "Wanna Get Tapped?"

The porter pours jet-black and reveals edges of dark ruby with an off-white head that gives way quickly to the smell of pure peanut butter. But when you bring the glass up to your mouth to take a sip, you are greeted by dark chocolate and roasted malt. As the beer warms, the unmistakable flavor of peanut butter takes center stage. The beer isn't thick, but rather an easy drinker, even at a respectable 7 percent ABV. And while most consider chocolate and peanut butter to be more dessert-like flavors, several people in attendance had no problems knocking back more than a pint or two.

I had submitted the winning entry months ago, so I was excited to taste the finished product from the batch brewed on Liberty’s brew system. I was not disappointed. While my beer was a tad sweeter, this beer fermented completely and really showcased the peanut butter. It was truly an honor brewing on the big system and watching folks enjoy the beer. It is still on tap at Liberty Steakhouse & Brewery; so if you can make it by in the next few weeks, definitely give it a try - and say that the Beerman sent you.

Celebration by Sierra Nevada

Besides football, oysters, cooler weather and better traffic, two of my favorite things about fall are the annual releases of Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Fresh Hop Ale and Founders Brewing Co.’s Breakfast Stout. Two amazing beers from two outstanding breweries in two styles that I love to consume year-round – IPA and imperial stout.

At first glance, the bottle adorned with a snowy cabin and poinsettias would lead one to believe that the contents would contain a clove and nutmeg heavily-spiced ale. But upon pouring the dark amber brew with a billowy white head, the citrus and pine aromas of American hops hits your nostrils. This is an American-style India pale ale. Craft beer enthusiasts new to Celebration try to guess what herbs have been added this year, but no spices have been added – just copious amounts of freshly harvested wet hops. Wet hops are just-picked hops that haven’t undergone kiln drying. Sierra Nevada strives to get its hops for Celebration from the vine to the boil kettle in less than 24 hours. Complimented by just the right amount of crystal malt, this balanced IPA is a sticky, hoppy treat. Sierra Nevada’s Celebration is hitting stores now, so expect to see it everywhere soon. Buy it and drink it fresh, because after Christmas, it won’t be around again until next year.

And seeing a bit more of a limited release around town is another fall treat – Founders Brewing Company’s Breakfast Stout. Many first-time drinkers wonder about the name – what makes it a breakfast stout? Besides the flaked oats, what really makes it a breakfast stout is the coffee – Sumatra and Kona. Loads of dark chocolate compliment the coffee and 8.3 percent ABV, making this beer a real sipper. Just because it’s called Breakfast Stout doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to imbibe before noon. But given the right circumstances, is perfectly acceptable (in certain circles).

World’s Strongest Beer

Many folks don’t know that there has been a war waging in Europe during the past several years – over who can brew the beer with the highest alcohol content. Brewdog, of Scotland, entered the competition with Tactical Nuclear Penguin at 32 percent ABV, followed by Sink the Bismarck at 41 percent ABV and finally the End of History at 55 percent ABV. Brewmeister Brewery, also of Scotland, entered the race with Armageddon, which was the record-holder at 65 percent ABV which was just bested by the brewery’s new release, Snake Venom. At 67.5 percent ABV and $80 a bottle, Brewmeister assures us its beer is “hoppy, malty and very pleasant.” So, before you go running to the local beer store to try and snatch up one of these behemoths, remember – South Carolina law prohibits the sale of beer of more than 17.5 percent ABV.

Local events a-brewing

You may have a hard time scoring a bottle of Snake Venom, so enjoy the best of what Myrtle Beach has to offer in the way of two great beer events that are coming up in November. First, on Nov. 8-9 is the Crafty Rooster Craftyfest, which has moved locations. This year, the festival is being held at the Lower River Warehouse on the Riverwalk in Downtown Conway. Hours are 6-10 p.m. on Friday (Nov. 8) and 2-10 p.m. on Saturday (Nov. 9). There will be live music, lots of good beers to try, as well as roasted oysters, chili and chicken bog. For more information on the Crafty Rooster Craftyfest, go to craftyrooster.com/craftyfest/.

The next Saturday (Nov. 16, from 1-5 p.m.), is the third annual Brewing at the Beach – held at New South Brewing in Myrtle Beach. There will be home brewing demos and information, homebrew samples and food provided by the Piggly Wiggly at Market Common. So, if you are interested in learning how to homebrew, want to step up your game, or just looking to geek out with fellow home brewers, please join us. For more information on Brewing at the Beach, connect with MASH on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mbhomebrewers.

Contact John Garner at MBCraftBeer@gmail.com and follow him at www.facebook.com/TheNewBeerman.

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