2005 | REGIONAL | SOUTHEAST
By Bobby Bush
It still must run a legislative gauntlet, but an alcoholic
beverage tax could be on its way out in Florida. In early
March, the Senate’s Regulated Industry Committee voted
6-3 to remove sales tax on beer, wine and mixed beverages
sold in bars and restaurants. If the measure passes, it is
unlikely that consumers will see lower prices. The tax on
a 12-ounce beer is less than 2¢.
The Florida Brewers Guild is getting political. According
to FBG founder/President/Executive Director Ed Canty, the
statewide group’s goals are to alter Florida regulation
in order to allow small breweries to distribute their own
beer and legalize the sale of growlers to go.
Meanwhile, the effort to lift the cap on the alcohol content
of beer in North Carolina has passed its first legislative
hurdle. On April 18, House Bill 392 was approved 18-11 by
the Commerce Committee and passed along to the House ABC Committee
with one significant modification: instead of lifting the
cap completely, the bill, if approved as rewritten, will permit
beer to contain up to 15% abv. Not nearly as hot as the debate
over a state lottery, HB-392 must still face the Senate.
The “first authentic Hofbräuhaus in America”
is expanding. Founded in 2003 in Newport, Ky., the German-style
beer hall and brewery, Hofbräuhaus Newport,
recently announced plans for a sister facility in Pittsburgh.
Construction of the new 18,000-square-foot brewpub, with architecture
reminiscent of the original Hofbräuhaus in Munich circa
1928, is scheduled to begin in June. A German brewer will
be imported to man the brewhouse.
Brewed under license and supervision of the Hofbräuhaus
Munich, four regular beers and a dozen or more rotating seasonals
are featured at the Newport establishment. Premium Lager,
Munich Weizen, Light and Dunkel are on tap full time. Head
brewer Markus Lohner keeps the calendar interesting, running
January through December with Prussian Export, Adulterator
Doppelbock, Märzen, Bavarian Wheat, Maibock, Herzog Wilhelm
V. (Ursud), Bohemian Pilsner, Kunzel Lager, 1810 Prince Ludwig,
Oktoberfest, Weizenbock and Christmasbeer. Just in case the
seasonal beer runs out before month-end, Zwickelbeer or Leichte
Weisse will be ready to fill in. All of Hofbräuhaus traditional
lagers and ales are brewed according to the Bavarian Purity
Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company just
opened a second brewing facility. According to Head Brewer
Doug Riley, Asheville Brewing will have an 1,800-square-foot
tasting room, a large patio and a new 15-barrel brewhouse.
The Coxe Avenue establishment will sell kegs to local restaurants
and bars as well as to the public and will offer growlers
to go. The food menu features “light pub fare,”
all available for takeout. Riley plans to keep eight beers
on tap at the new facility, some of which will be brought
over from the original brewpub on Merrimon Avenue.
A chemical engineer who still has her day job, Leslie Henderson
first took notice of the wide world of brewing four years
ago when she commandeered a homebrewing kit that she had given
her electrical engineer husband, Mark. Bitten badly by the
brewing bug, Henderson came to the easy conclusion that “there
isn’t much microbrew in Kiln, Mississippi,” so
she enrolled for formal training at the American Brewers Guild.
Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company fired up its
15-barrel brewhouse in January. Determined to educate her
patrons with “the right mix of beers that won’t
scare locals but will be interesting to people who move to
the area,” Henderson has already made waves with Henderson’s
Southern Pecan. No extract — she adds crushed roasted
pecans to the mash. The coastal soft water permits the ale’s
“malty sweetness to shine.” Distribution through
a local distributor covers a 100-mile radius. Lazy Magnolia
also offers a golfer’s wheat and rye brew called Par
3; Blue Heron, a cloudy classic wheat; and Amberjaque, a light
amber beer with a pleasant hop aroma and spiciness. When time
permits, Lazy Magnolia seasonals will include Hard Cranberry
Ginger Ale, Gulf Porter, Jefferson Stout, Harvest Moon and
Lighthouse Pale Ale.
Raleigh, N.C., brewpub owner Gary Greenshields has left the
building. Still in dispute with his insurance company over
an August 2004 fire that closed his City Market brewpub, Greenshields’s
kitchen equipment and brewhouse are in storage while he searches
for the perfect site for his new brewery. His plan for the
new Greenshields Brewing incorporates a master brewery, probably
situated in a restaurant, serving a group of small neighborhood
Greenshields restaurants scattered throughout Raleigh and
the surrounding suburbs. His take-the-beer-to-the-people approach
will reduce driving time for his upscale clientele.
Speaking of brewhouses in storage, Jon Cheek, owner of Orlando
Brewing, has a similar problem. Displaced by imminent
domain forced by interstate construction, the brewery has
a new home just across the street from a bustling Amtrak station.
“We don’t have any control; the state’s
in the driver’s seat,” reports Cheek, who is glad
the state is footing the bill but frustrated that the process
is taking so long. He’s presently negotiating with Orlando
micro Indian River in an effort to keep his beer flowing and
maintain his accounts. Cheek hopes to move in by early August,
though he has no idea how long reassembly of the brewery will
take. Ed Canty, a major player in the Florida Brewers Guild,
is currently serving as brewing advisor. Former partner Rob
Bernys is no longer associated with the company, once known
as Orlando Brewing Partners.
Henderson is determined
to educate patrons with “beers that won’t
scare locals but will be interesting to people who move
to the area.”
The Brewers Association has released its “Top 50 American
Breweries” list for 2004. Two Southern breweries made
the grade. Brewer of the Cottonwood and Carolina Blonde brands,
Carolina Beer and Beverage of Mooresville
came in a respectable 30th while Louisiana-based Abita
Brewing, with labels like Turbodog and Andygator,
slid into 38th place, just ahead of the venerable Brooklyn
In the microbrewery world, packaging is everything. Keg-only
brewers fight daily for bar tap space, battling the mega-brewers
for that precious territory. Portable packaging, such as bottles
and cans, opens many more doors, not just on grocery and beer-store
shelves, but also at draft-challenged restaurants and bars
unwilling to try an “unproven” brand. To exemplify
this evolution, let’s look at three Southern breweries.
Earlier this year, R. J. Rockers, a fledgling
Spartanburg, S.C., micro, released two of its brews, American
Pale Ale and Bald Eagle Brown, in 22-ounce bottles. Brewer/owner
Mark Johnsen took the manual bottling operation in stride,
hoping that bottles would make his beer more appealing to
distributors that shun keg-only products.
Thomas Creek, a Greenville, S.C., microbrewery,
has been bottling for seven years. Owner/brewer Tom David
says that 25 percent of his production is now bottled and,
with the addition of several new grocery accounts, that percentage
is expected to grow significantly. He just changed to brighter,
bolder glossy labels and introduced his first seasonal bottled
beer, the popular Vanilla Cream Ale.
And, the most unusual of this brief analysis, downtown Chapel
Hill, N.C., brewpub Top of the Hill introduced
its line of 12-ounce cans in early April. According to Assistant
Brewer George Dusek, Leaderboard Trophy Lager and Rams Head
IPA are the only canned beers planned for now. The IPA will
be sold at the brewpub only, while the lager is also destined
for golf courses and country clubs in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel
Hill triangle. At best, with three people involved in the
labor-intensive operation, the two-head counter-pressure canner
and single sealer equipment can package 30–40 six-packs
per hour. “We’re busy trying to keep the bar wet
and have enough to can too,” says the overworked brewer.
Vista Brewing of Columbia, S.C., ceased
brewing operations earlier this year. The restaurant remains
The second annual Blues ’n Brews Festival takes place
on June 4 by the riverside in Fayetteville, N.C. Benefiting
Cape Fear Regional Theatre, the Campbellton Landing Stage
fest runs from 4:00 to 10:30 p.m. and features a unique three-level
ticket program. $15 buys a general admission, i.e., a designated
driver, pass. $25 gets a glass and unlimited tastes of over
100 different beers. For an additional $10, the VIP level
buys entrance to a reserved seating area — perfect for
enjoying the music of Abe Reid & the Spikedrivers and
The Heaters — and private toilets. Children’s
activities are also planned for three hours beginning at 4:00.
Last year over 1,000 people attended. Click cfrt.org
and then “Special Events” for more information.
June 4 also finds New Orleans in beer-fest mode. Info was
sketchy at press time, but the Kiefer UNO Lakefront Arena
will play host to the 22nd annual International Beer Tasting,
a benefit for public television station WYES. Stay tuned to
for late-breaking fest news.
June 11 welcomes the River City Beer & Seafood Festival
on Brown’s Island, surrounded by the James River and
the Haxall Canal, in Richmond, Va. The annual food and beer
fest draws 8,000 to 10,000 people. Admission is free, though
tasting mugs are $25 for unlimited six-ounce samples. For
more information, sign up for the fest’s e-newsletter
The ninth annual Old Dominion Beer Festival is scheduled
at the Ashburn, Va., microbrewery on June 24–26. The
three-day celebration features live music and beer from at
least 40 breweries. Admission is $12 and another buck buys
a six-ounce serving. For times, breweries and entertainment
details, see oldominion.com.
The heat of the Southern summer, July 30, to be exact, greets
the very first Summertime Brews Festival, set for downtown
Greensboro, N.C. Classic Rock 92 and Dick Broadcasting Company
are hosting the event in the new First Horizon Park, home
of the Greensboro Grasshoppers, a single-A affiliate of the
Florida Marlins. Up to 2,000 people are expected to attend
the 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. fest. For a list of breweries and other
pertinent information, see summertimebrews.com.
On that same Sunday in July, Nashville hosts the fourth annual
Music City Brewers Festival. More than 25 breweries will pour
their best at scenic Hilton Park during the 2:00 to 6:00 p.m.
fest. Plenty of food and live music will also be on tap. Check
for the lowdown.
Bobby Bush is just a good ol’ Southern
boy who loves his beer rich and tasty and despises all things
NASCAR. Comments and sarcasm are welcome at email@example.com.