2005 | REGIONAL | SOUTHEAST
By Bobby Bush
5813 Ponce de Leon Blvd.
Coral Gables, FL 33146
Moon River Brewing
21 West Bay St.
Savannah, GA 31401
Hilton Head Brewing
7-C Greenwood Dr.
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
Broadway at the Beach
1321 Celebrity Cir.
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
Outer Banks Brewing Station
Mile Post 8-1/2
Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
1556 Laskin Rd., #134
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
Traditional summer vacation in the South almost always includes
a week, or at least a weekend, stay at the beach. By August,
the Atlantic coastal waters warm to the mid-80s. Days are
drenched in suntan lotion and rolling waves. Nights beckon
with dancing and moonlit walks on beaches of silvery sand.
And then there’s beer. No respectable seaside trip
should be without the tasty suds of local craft-brewed beer.
In this issue’s “Southern Brewing,” we’ll
highlight beach town breweries. Yes, there’s more to
sun and fun than Corona and lime.
Coral Gables, Fla.’s Titanic Brewing opened for business
in 1999. The Miami-area brewpub is helmed by Steve Copeland.
A Maine native, the brewer trained at Siebel and entered the
ranks of professional brewers at Miami’s now-defunct
Firehouse micro. A Navy vet, Copeland found his current position
at Titanic via an online search in 2002.
Situated next to the University of Miami’s baseball
stadium, his small brewpub features a Cajun-influenced menu
and a mainstay of impressive brews. Triple Screw Light, which
took a 2000 GABF silver medal, is naturally a big seller.
Perfect for the heat and humidity, this kölsch-style
ale is light and refreshing, and at only 4% abv, it makes
a great summer session drink.
Captain Smith’s Rye Ale, which also scored silver in
2000, is a German-style amber — malty, fruity and spicy.
White Star IPA and Britannic Best Bitter are English in style,
made with imported malt and hops.
For seasoned beer travelers, Copeland keeps the British-style
Boiler Room Nut Brown and full-bodied Steambuilders Oatmeal
Stout on tap year-round.
Seasonals include Hurricane Gale Force Ale, an orange blossom–honey
blonde ale; Hefeweizen; and a barley wine based on a recipe
provided by MASH, Miami Area Society of Homebrewers.
Head north up the intercoastal waterway for a stopover in
Savannah, Ga. Housed in the old City Hotel, circa 1830, Moon
River Brewing has been around since 1999 when partners John
Pinkerton and Gene Beeco reopened the shuttered Oglethorpe
brewpub on Bay Street. Since the brewpub’s clientele
is primarily tourists, brewer Pinkerton keeps a wide variety
of beers on tap. Moon River’s five regulars are Wild
Wacky Wit (Belgian style and heavy on coriander), Savannah
Fest Beer (lager style made with kölsch yeast), Moon
Light (a lighter version of Fest and former best-seller),
Captains Porter (full-bodied and chocolaty) and the new best-seller,
Swamp Fox IPA (big in alcohol at over 7% abv and dry-hopped
Seasonals include an American-style Hefeweizen, which may
replace Fest on the regular list; Gallery Espresso Stout (made
with coffee from a local coffee house); a malty, nutty, toasty
Brown Ale; and a Kölsch that should be on tap in August
and September. Pinkerton served a brief stint in Weeping Radish’s
brewhouse but credits Frederick Brewing as the primary source
of his brewing education.
Following a foiled attempt at a Savannah brewpub, Denver
brewpub entrepreneur John Hickenlooper introduced Pinkerton
to his eventual Moon River partner, Beeco. Named for the song
penned by Henry Mancini and Savannah native Johnny Mercer,
Moon River has also become a popular spot for reasons other
than beer. Almost every downtown ghost tour starts or finishes
at Moon River. Pinkerton claims that he’s never had
a paranormal experience in the 175-year-old structure, “although
the adding machine started running on its own this morning.”
Perhaps a frustrated accountant? Give him a beer.
Just north across the sound, no more than 20 minutes by boat,
awaits ritzy Hilton Head Island, S.C. Brewer John Watts has
been with Hilton Head Brewing since 1998, though he stepped
away from the brewhouse for a year to try his hand at restaurant
management. Summer Wheat is his best-selling seasonal. Light-bodied,
lightly hopped and served with a lemon wedge, this American-style
ale is the perfect post-golf or post-tennis beverage. Calibogue
Amber, Hilton Head’s flagship brew, is a well-balanced
ale boasting medium body and moderate bitterness. Cascade
hops throughout, South Atlantic Pale Ale is American in style,
bursting with hoppy aroma and flavor. The blonde Pub Light
and darkish Raspberry Wheat are also brisk sellers. Founded
in 1994, Hilton Head Brewing is large and well equipped to
handle a continual barrage of touristy types.
Summer beach beer? Why
not? To every season there is beer!
One of the South’s most famous tourist spots is Myrtle
Beach. Greater Myrtle Beach’s wide, sandy shoreline
runs from the North Carolina line southward for 40 miles or
so. The Strip, as the main drag is called, is a hub of humanity
from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Part of the TBonz restaurant
family, Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery has been open and brewing
in Myrtle for 10 years. Brewer Josh Quigley has been there
since the beginning. His shopping center brewpub offers six
to eight beers throughout the year.
Miss Liberty Lager is light and refreshing and the winner
of a 1997 GABF medallion. Quigley also offers an interesting
White Ale, made with his house yeast rather than the Belgian
variety; a Raspberry Wheat; and an American Wheat. There’s
always either a red or an amber and a pale ale or an IPA ready
to pour. Nut Brown is as dark as Liberty gets in summertime,
but the porter or the stout has a home for the remainder of
the seasons. Quigley learned the brewing ropes at Palmetto
Brewing, a Charleston, S.C., micro, and started with TBonz
at the company’s Mt. Pleasant, S.C., brewpub.
He also has a side venture. New South Brewing was established
six years ago with partner/brewer David Epstein in order to
provide kegged beer to non-brewing TBonz restaurants. The
all-keg micro also distributes beer throughout both Carolinas.
It’s a pretty long jaunt up to Kill Devil Hills, N.C.,
where Outer Banks Brewing Station has been doing business
since May 2001. According to brewer Scott Meyer, August and
September are ideal months to visit. Outer Banks has music
every night, an eclectic mix of well-prepared food (mostly
Asian-influenced seafood) and, obviously, an array of interesting
beer. Lemongrass Wheat, the fall seasonal and 2002 GABF bronze
medalist, is an excellent beer, surprisingly refreshing and
invigorating. Ölsch is a year-round kölsch-style
that’s lively with hops aroma and a supple mouthfeel.
The light Sunshower Gold is seductively hopped, while Copperopolis
works the chewy, caramelized, malty side of Outer Banks’s
beer spectrum. Later in the year, look for Prince of Darkness
Porter and Santa’s Little Hammer.
Meyer grew up in San Diego and had his first fling with fermentation
in the wine business. While living in Berkeley, Calif., he
sold wine by day and learned to brew from Bison Brewing’s
nocturnal brewer. He also brewed for a while at nearby Triple
Rock before heading eastward to join Aubrey Davis in founding
Outer Banks Brewing Station. The two were introduced by a
mutual friend. When asked to explain the difference between
making wine and beer, Meyer passionately described brewing
as “energy-intensive, more engineering and physics”
compared with wine’s “slow, biological, passive
process.” It’s the difference, he said, “between
writing a short story and writing a novel.” Meyer’s
novels are must-reads.
Travel another 85 miles northward up the coastline to find
the bustling oceanside town of Virginia Beach, Va. Situated
less than two miles inland, Hilltop Brewing Company is a friendly,
eight-year-old brewpub with an appetizing menu, live music,
flavorful cigars, an intriguing martini menu and, lest we
forget, beer. Hilltop is the only brewpub in the Tidewater
Brewers Peter Goebel, who morphed from homebrewer to Hilltop
professional two years ago, and Andy Duck, former Weeping
Radish head brewer, work under the cover of night to keep
Hilltop’s unfiltered “signature brews” and
seasonals fresh for locals and tourists alike. Hefeweizen
is a traditional cloudy banana-and-clove ale, contrasted in
color and flavor by Beach Brown Ale, a medium-bodied, lightly
hopped yet malty beer. Frog Grog Ale is a hoppy California
common style beer, while seasonal Helles Bock makes the most
of the tantalizing German style, replacing the malty maibock
tank that just blew. A Belgian-style wit called Blanche de
VaBch has become a favorite summer brew. The sweet and sultry
Nut Brown Ale should be on tap for late summer and early autumn
The 10th annual WaZoo fundraiser celebration takes place
on August 6 at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa Bay. The “tropical
taste explosion” provides samples from breweries around
the world and a wine garden. Bay area restaurants provide
local cuisine, all accompanied by live entertainment. Check
for more info.
August 13 welcomes Roanoke, Va.’s Microfestivus 2005.
More than a dozen breweries are expected at the downtown Elmwood
Park fest, which will also present live music. For details,
The Emerald Coast Brew Fest & Beach Party commences its
two-day run on September 9. The Pensacola, Fla., fest will
include offerings from the local Escambia Bay Homebrewers
and a selection of beers from around the South. Saturday,
day two, introduces the Beach Party and Beer Olympics. Sounds
like, uh, fun.
Charlotte kicks off its seventh annual Oktoberfest in fine
fest fashion on October 1. Organized by the Carolina Brewmasters
homebrewers club, the fest site is unchanged from last year
(a first!) in the North Davidson Arts District. See charlotteoktoberfest.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.