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Southern Brewing
By Bobby Bush

Natty Greene's Brewing Co.
345 S. Elm St.
Greensboro, NC 27401

Pisgah Brewing Co.
150 Eastside Business Park
Black Mountain, NC 28711

Depot Street Brewing
904 Depot St.
Jonesborough, TN 37659

Liberty Steakhouse & Brewery
914 Mall Loop Road
(Oak Hollow Mall)
High Point, NC 27262

Azalea Coast Brewing Co.
3406-C Merchant Ct.
Wilmington, NC 28405

Old Dominion Brewing Co.
(Micro with pub)
44633 Guilford Dr., Bay 112
Ashburn, VA 20147

Edenton Brewing Co.
(Micro with pub)
1249-A Wicker Dr.
Raleigh, NC 27604

Sweetwater Brewing Co.
(Micro with pub)
195 Ottley Dr.
Atlanta, GA 30324

Spanish Springs Brewing Co.
1105 Main St. (in The Villages)
Lady Lake, FL 32159


The first-ever Carolinas Championship of Beer (CCB) was a rousing success. With 133 entrees in 65 categories, the blind-judged competition awarded 19 gold, 30 silver and 38 bronze medals to 26 breweries. Best of Show winners, announced during April 22’s fourth annual Hickory Hops festival, went to Natty Greene’s (first place), Pisgah Brewing (second) and Depot Street (third). Scott Christoffel, brewer at Greensboro’s 18-month-old Natty Greene’s, was not on hand to accept the engraved first-place plaque awarded to his aged Tarheel Tarwebier, but his assistants were more than exuberant when his name was called.

The winning beer is a Belgian-style Flanders sour ale made with several strains of bacteria and wild yeast. Christoffel has been refining the recipe for over five years, though with 14 to 16 months in conditioning, his sour ale requires a “fine balance that takes patience to tune.” Though Christoffel played a role in crafting winning beers while working for Left Hand Brewing in Longmont, Colo., and Ft. Lauderdale’s Independence Brewing, the CCB gold medal and Best of Show are his first official accolades as head brewer.

David Quinn, head brewer for Pisgah Brewing, another relatively new brewery from Black Mountain, N.C., was busy pouring his organic ales when the call came out for second place in the Best of Show round. The shiny plaque was bestowed upon his savory Solstice, a Belgian-style tripel.

Rounding out the winning trio, from mountainous Jonesboro, Tenn., Depot Street brewer Michael Foster was elated with his third-place showing for South Bound, a sweet Scottish-style export ale.

The CCB competition was patterned after the long-running Best Florida Beer Championship, which announced the winners of its statewide competition in late February. First-place Best of Show honors went to McGuire’s Irish Pub of Pensacola, Fla., for brewer Steve Fried’s I’ll Have What the Gentleman on the Floor Is Having barley wine. David Doble, brewer for Tampa Bay Brewing, scored second place with his One Night Stand in the American Pale Ale category. Third place went to Yuengling Light Lager brewers John Houseman and Randy Petty.

On a much broader scale, Southern winners at the 2006 World Beer Cup, which judged 2,221 beers from 540 breweries in 56 countries, included:
Gold: Schwarzbier from Gordon Biersch, Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Pale Ale from Diamond Bear, Little Rock, Ark.
Silver: Black Mocha Stout from Highland Brewing, Asheville, N.C.; and St. Nick’s Weizenbock from Sweetwater Tavern/Great American Restaurants, Centreville, Va.
Bronze: Amberjaque Rye Ale and Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale, both from Lazy Magnolia Brewing, Kiln, Miss.; Millennium Ale from McGuire’s, Pensacola, Fla.; Smolder Bock from Outer Banks Brewing Station, Kill Devil Hills, N.C.; and Savannah Pale Ale from Old Savannah Brewing, Savannah, Ga.

In mid-January, following a year’s sabbatical from the brewing business, craft-beer veteran Jim McLennan took over for Eric Lamb at Liberty Steakhouse & Brewery in High Point, N.C. McLennan, who previously brewed for Black Rock Brewing in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and for the Gordon Biersch micro in San Jose, has settled in comfortably at the brewery. He gets plenty of advice from Lamb’s well-meaning brewpub friends.

Coinciding with McLennan’s arrival, Lamb stepped into the knee-high boots of Liberty - Myrtle Beach brewer Josh Quigley, who joined partner David Epstein full time at New South Brewing Company, the restaurant group’s kegging microbrewery, also located in Myrtle Beach. Lamb has made a few minor changes in some of Quigley’s brewpub recipes to reflect the tastes of his old North Carolina clientele, though he was shocked at the volume of lighter beers consumed in the beach tourist pub. Since spring break, Liberty has been moving over 35 barrels of beer each week. Lamb is filtering lager daily to keep up. The Broadway at the Beach establishment has been completely redecorated, including the addition of an awning over the outdoor beer garden.

A new North Carolina microbrewery opened last September. Encouraged by the popularity of his homebrewed ales and lagers, Ethan Hall decided to add a 10-barrel brewhouse, called Azalea Coast Brewing Company, to his homebrew supply store. Hall’s German doppelbock-style, 8.5% abv beer called Navigator Lager is his best seller. Fokker Ale, named for the Red Baron’s aircraft, not the movie, is a golden ale, while Buccaneer Brown Ale is of European brown (not nut brown) ancestry. Azalea Coast Chocolate Stout began as a seasonal but has been added to the regular lineup. Hall’s first commercial batch of Azalea Ale, made with fresh local strawberries, should be out now.

Designed as a late-summer seasonal, Single Malt Scotch Ale will have one full year in the conditioning tank by the time it’s released. According to Hall, who apparently samples the conditioned beer frequently, the 6.5% abv smooth and complex ale just “keeps getting better and better.” Azalea Coast already has over a dozen outlets in the coastal Wilmington area, though the Carolina Ale House in Cary, 130 miles north, near Raleigh, is the new company’s No. 1 customer. To facilitate wider distribution, the micro is installing a 22-ounce bottling machine.

Edenton Brewing Company, a Raleigh, N.C., microbrewery, recently released its newest seasonal beer. A classic German-style lager, PickelSchticker Pilsner, made from German barley and hops, is “the perfect complement to the beginning of the barbecue season.”

Atlanta’s Sweetwater Brewing opened its new tasting room on April 2. The facility, which also houses the nine-year-old micro’s corporate offices, replaces the trailer and porta-johns they have used since moving into the facility several years ago. Sweetwater, which won the GABF 2002 Small Brewery of the Year award, used the tasting room grand opening celebration to introduce its newest beer. Hummer is a rich, yeasty Belgian white that looks almost like a frothy glass of pulpy orange juice. Tours and tastings are held on Mondays and Thursdays beginning at 4:20.

Correcting an error in fact that I made in the last issue, I’m pleased to report that Spanish Springs Brewing Company is alive and well and brewing on a regular basis. It is true that long-term brewer Buzz Brown departed the retirement-community brewpub. Where I missed the boat was that 11-year Hops veteran Jamie Schee has taken over the brewhouse. Schee, who spent about six months working for BJ’s Brewery in Brea, Calif., before returning to his home state to a more hospitable economic climate, began working for the Lady Lake, Fla., brewpub on January 1.

Since the brewery sat idle for a month after Brown’s departure, Schee has been busy playing catch-up. With the summer slowdown nearing, he’s busy making lagers while trying to reduce inventory from his current eight beers on tap. New to Spanish Springs are Lighthouse Pale Ale, a gold-medal-winning IPA at the Best Florida Beer Championships 2006, and Coffee Oatmeal Stout. Expect a hefe for the summer seasonal and a much-anticipated Oktoberfest beer for autumn. Schee is also planning a Belgian strong called Notre Buena, which will be a cooperative effort with former brewer Brown, who is still putting a business plan together for a new venture.

South Carolina’s version of Pop the Cap is out of subcommittee and headed to the full House Judiciary Committee for review. House Bill 3804 may find its way to the House floor this year. The grassroots effort to lift the 6% abv limit on beers sold in South Carolina, patterned after similar successful movements in neighboring North Carolina and Georgia, has been gathering steam for over a year. See popthecapsc.org for updates on the struggle to free the people of the Palmetto State from beer oppression and to learn how you can help.


June 3 greets the third Blues ’n Brews Festival in Fayetteville, N.C. Campbellton Landing will host food, regional blues acts and over 75 different beers. Activities for children are also scheduled. For details, scroll down to June at cfrt.org/artman/publish/article_99.shtml.

Also happening that same day is the 23rd International Beer Tasting at Riverwalk Marketplace in New Orleans. Try 504-486-5511 or wyes.org/events/beer for tickets and schedule.
The 10th Old Dominion Beer Festival runs for three days beginning June 23. More than 50 breweries and loads of fun will be on hand. See olddominion.com.

Friday, July 7, sees the Folioweekly Beer & Music Festival at Alltel Stadium Touchdown Club West in Jacksonville, Fla. Details are sketchy, so check folioweeklybeerfest.com for more info.

The fifth Music City Brewers Festival takes place on July 29 from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Scenic Park in Nashville. There will be plenty of food, music (of course) and beer from 35 breweries. Some 4,000 people attended last year’s sold-out event.

In conjunction with the Brewers Association National Homebrewers Conference in Orlando on June 22–24 (see beertown.org), the Central Florida Home Brewers have several events planned. The afternoon of June 21 is the Great Gator Tail Brewing Gadget Extravaganza, followed by a raffle and pub crawl. Rossi’s Pizza Buffet Lunch is on tap for June 22. Contact Darryl Hickey at djhbrew98@yahoo.com for more info.

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 bobbywbush@charter.net.


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