Irish eyes were definitely smiling on Valor Park on Saturday (March 15) for the 5th Annual Irish Fest at Market Common. The sun shone and a crowd gathered to eat some corned beef, enjoy traditional and not-so-traditional Irish music and drink lots of beer. And even though I wasn’t looking for any green beer, I did find plenty of delicious craft beer to wet my whistle.
After making the rounds and checking out the vendors – selling everything from kettle corn to rope beer koozies, I sat with friends and enjoyed a Reuben, prepared by the adjacent Piggly Wiggly. Accompanied by a fresh pint of Lagunitas IPA, one of many draft options available, the sandwich was outstanding. The savory beef danced a jig with the floral hops from the definitely-not-Irish IPA.
Besides the Lagunitas IPA, other drafts available included Brooklyn Dry Irish Stout, Rogue Irish Lager, Angry Orchard Cider, Highland Oatmeal Porter, RJ Rockers Son of a Peach and Sam Adams Backwoods Porter. There was also the obligatory Guinness along with a host of random bottles of craft beer being sold. There were definitely some treasures to be found – and for $3, the craft bottles were a big hit.
Homebrewer’s Pantry Opens in Conway
The Homebrewer’s Pantry, stocked and ready for business, held its soft opening on March 14. Located at 1015 4th Avenue in historic downtown Conway, The Homebrewer’s Pantry opened its doors to a small crowd of brewers, friends and curious passersby.
The store is stocked with an assortment of brewing supplies, recipe kits and a multitude of brewing ingredients. The cumbersome task of selling large amounts of malted barley and hops has been simplified by the use of small jars of samples and what was described to me as a “sushi menu” to place your order. The idea is genius – it keeps grain off the floor and in the back room, and gives brewers a chance to smell and even taste the grain before placing their order. Small jars of hops are available for smelling, too.
A small refrigerator houses a variety of liquid brewers’ yeast. Racks and shelves are home to items such as siphons, bottle caps, sanitizers and cool stuff including bottle openers, hop candy and craft beer bottles that have been repurposed and shaped into jewelry and pint glasses.
“After a month of chiseling concrete, hanging pallet slats, painting walls and buying and putting away inventory – we're finally open. It has really been a dream come true,” said Thomas Lucas, owner of Homebrewer’s Pantry.
The Homebrewer’s Pantry launched a Kickstarter campaign on March 6 to raise money to increase its inventory and fund more brewing demos and classes. If you’d like to support your new local homebrew store, stop by and do some shopping and then go online to www.homebrewerspantry.com/kickstarter and make a pledge from $1 to $200 or more.
Stone Brewing to Expand to Myrtle Beach?
The Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation is looking to lure Stone Brewing - makers of Arrogant Bastard Ale - to the Myrtle Beach area. The craft beer giant, based in San Diego, posted a Request for Proposals to its Web site at the beginning of March stating that the brewery is expanding and looking for a home east of the Mississippi River. Communities from New York to Alabama have expressed their interest in inviting Stone to their town.
"Stone Brewing Co. would be an excellent fit for our community. With over 14 millions visitors that come to Myrtle Beach each year, their brand would get exposure they couldn't get anywhere else. And for the community, we're talking over 300 high-paying, year-round jobs and a significant capital investment – that would be huge," said Morgan Dendy, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Myrtle Beach Regional EDC.
While the Palmetto State’s antiquated beer laws may be seen as an obstacle, the proposal can also be seen as an opportunity – to force a change to the strict three-tier system that South Carolina has had in place since the repeal of prohibition. Whether or not Myrtle Beach is successful in bringing a big craft brewery like Stone to our community, it’s a wonderful gesture and will hopefully open more eyes in Columbia as to how our outdated beer laws are keeping us out of the running for new job creation in a sector that is seeing exponential growth right now.
For its part, Myrtle Beach’s New South Brewing would welcome the company. “Please help us support the local MB effort to bring Stoned Brewed to the Beach,” Friends of New South Brewing posted on its Facebook page.
Quest Brewing Starts Distribution to Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach is getting more great South Carolina beer. The fantastic Quest Brewing of Greenville, has begun distributing to Myrtle Beach. Kegs of the Ellida IPA and Kaldi Imperial Coffee Stout are on draft at the growler station at the Piggly Wiggly at Market Common. Ellida IPA is an aromatic IPA hopped generously with American hops. Kaldi Imperial Coffee Stout is rich and roasty with a big coffee taste up front. Think Terrapin Wake n’ Bake – only more decadent. One of my favorite coffee beers.
Upcoming Local Beer Events
There are two new upcoming beer events to add to your beer calendar. First, the Mellow Mushroom is hosting a Red Hare Brewing beer dinner on April 1. There will be a special cask of Watership Brown, infused with carrots, raisins and cinnamon that was brewed specifically for this dinner. Call the Mellow Mushroom for reservations a 444-1122.
Then on April 19, Valor Park will host the inaugural Beer, BBQ and Bluegrass. For more information on this event and the Myrtle Beach Beer Festival (March 29), head over to www.MyrtleBeachBeerFest.com.
Contact John Garner at MBCraftBeer@gmail.com and follow him at www.facebook.com/TheNewBeerman.