Saturday, February 9, 2013

Charleston's Growing Craft Beer Market And A Beer Tasting With Azalea Magazine At Coastal Coffee Roasters

Tourists who visit Charleston will hear names like John Rutledge, William Moultrie, John C. Calhoun, William Aiken Jr., and David Dees. What was David Dees notable for?  He was a store owner on E. Bay St. in the famous Rainbow Row and in 1743 received a shipment of 96 clubs and 432 balls from the Port of Leith in Scotland. But names like Joseph Morgan, Daniel Bourget, and Nathaniel Scott are unfamiliar. These were names associated with the brewing of beer in the early years of Charleston dating back to the 1700's. If you want to learn more about the history of beer in Charleston, read the book Charleston Beer.

In recent times, the Charleston area has turned into an enthusiastic and thriving craft beer scene, especially since South Carolina lifted its ban on high-gravity specialty beers with higher alcohol contents. Names like Palmetto Brewing, Westbrook Brewing, Frothy Beard Brewing Company, and Holy City Brewing have become recognized names at many of the festivals and events in the Lowcountry.

Friday, I adventured into that world of crafted beers. It was by way of an invitation to an event that encompassed some of the best names in the Lowcountry, including one of the previously named breweries. It was Beer Tasting night at Coastal Coffee Roasters in Summerville-a planned special event sponsored by Azalea Magazine with Holy City Brewing providing a selection of brews for sampling with Famulari's Pizzeria taking on the challenge of providing the perfect pizza compliment. It was a sold out event, so a packed house was expected.

Upon arrival, I was greeted by Dottie and Will Rizzo, the owners of Azalea Magazine. I was checked in and given a ticket that would be used later in a drawing and a wrist band denoting my eligibility to drink the libations on hand. Although the proceedings wouldn't start for another fifteen minutes, many of the hand-painted tables were already occupied. Joe Tedesco, a familiar face on the acoustic scene, was making last minute preparations setting up and tuning his guitar. He and a friend would be providing the musical entertainment through the course of the evening.

Immediately, I saw some fellow White Gablers and took a few moments to chat with them before the proceedings officially got underway. Elizabeth and Jerry Crotty frequently attend the plays at the local James F. Dean Theatre, so we small talked about the most recent riotous musical Forever Plaid and a few other things. The fifteen minutes went by quickly. It was now time to begin the party. I strategically seated myself at the new burlap-glass topped bar close to where most of the action would take place.

Will welcomed everybody and Brad Mallett, owner of Coastal Coffee Roasters, explained how the samplings would proceed. Through the course of the evening, in 15 minute intervals, six of Holy City's brews would be distributed for evaluation. With each sampling, a serving of complimentary pizza would accompany the brew. Chris Brown, a partner and professional brewer for Holy City, gave a brief introduction for each offering explaining the choice for the name behind the brew and a description of its flavor. Justin and Nicole, from Famulari's Pizzeria, did the same with the pizza. Caleb and Amber Taylor poured the beer, Dottie served the beer, and the rest is history.

The six beers offered beginning with the first were Holy City Pilsner, Pluff Mud Porter, Slanted Porch Pale Ale, Graveyard Shiftee, Collision Stout, and New Year, the strongest of them all at 10.5 per cent  When it comes to a name, you can't get any more Charleston than Holy City. Each name embraces something well known to Charleston or its business community. As you tour the streets of the historic district of the city, you will understand where the namesake, slanted porch, comes from as you observe the features of the old homes. For a complete explanation for the reason behind the names, go to Holy City Brewing. A note of fact: Pluff Mud Porter won the Gold Medal at the 31st Great American Beer Festival in October of 2012 in Denver beating out 44 other Brown Porters from around the country. You can visit the brewery at 4155 C Dorchester Road in North Charleston.

The beers were crafty, the pizza cheesy, the music pleasin', and the hospitality southern. For me, winning a growler of beer in the drawing along with five other people was one of the highlights. It was another fantastic night at Coastal Coffee Roasters. Whether you are a local or a visitor, this is one place you will want to check out, not only for the great entertainment and scheduled events, but for the best fresh roasted coffee in the Lowcountry. And while your at it, pick up an Azalea Magazine. It is a printed mosaic of articles and pictorials commemorating the southern lifestyle that is uniquely Summerville, both past and present.

Don't miss Brewvival on February 23,2013 at 12-6 pm. It will take place in the field across from Coast Brewery in North Charleston. For complete details see Brewvival 2013. Enjoy the slideshow.

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