Thursday, February 27, 2014

Holy City Brewery--Home To Top Notch Craft Beers And A Lowcountry Landmark.

It was the party before Brewvival. The place was Holy City Brewing. In collaboration with RJ Rockers Brewery, Holy City produced a beer using cold-press coffee from Coastal Coffee Roasters in Summerville and dubbed the perky stout Half Calf. I was there to celebrate the preview with my good friend Brad Mallett, owner of the popular and trendy coffee shop.

Half Calf was one of four collaborations brewed for the Brewvival. The other three were with NoDa Brewing Company(Shades of Grace), Southbound Brewing Company(Sister City Saison), and Wicked Weed Brewing(Holy Weed with green tea leaves from Charleston Tea Plantation).

The enterprise is a success story of immense proportions bearing a rightly acquired name synonymous with Charleston, Holy City. A four-team venture, three of them CofC graduates, the brewery is a converted 4000 square foot warehouse originally owned by the non graduate of CofC, Mac Minaudo.

The main section of the warehouse is an efficient collusion of working space and showroom highlighted by a shiny, deep blue floor covered with a collection of brightly polished, stainless steel tanks with the remaining space dominated by a long bar transplanted from the original Cumberland's of downtown Charleston--on this day lined with patrons downing pairings of samples and full glasses of the brewery's latest collaborations in celebration of this years edition of Brewvival.

The exterior of the warehouse, like the beers brewed inside, is a Lowcountry work of art. Painted in a palette of earth colors, it is covered with scenes of the Charleston skyline, jelly fish, hammerhead sharks, marine birds, an alligator, a curious pterodactyl and a lone bicycle rickshaw--significant of the fact Joel Carl and Sean Nemitz are business partners in Charleston's rickshaw business. The establishments most prominent feature is a very long trash bin painted with a full length scene reminiscent of Charleston's beautiful waterfront with the name Holy City transparently etched in white over it.

A labor of love that began in the garage of Joel and Sean's rickshaw business where they built a 15-gallon, all-grain pilot system that produced roughly a dozen signature brews, later joined by professional brewer Chris Brown and beer enthusiast Mac, Holy City has grown into a dominant player in the craft beer market of Charleston.

Throughout the Lowcountry, the Holy City brand is as original as joggling boards and its taps are as common as the palmetto. Holy City Pilsner and Holy City Pluff Mud are two of the house beers served at my favorite Summerville stomping grounds, the previously mentioned Coastal Coffee Roasters; and the place where I was introduced to Holy City Brewing by way of the occasional beer tasting event hosted there--a fabulously frothy good time.

The day's large crowd was conclusive evidence of the brewery's success. The picnic tables were full, the tasting room standing room only. For entertainment, the Bluestone Ramblers churned out bluegrass tunes while Refueler's Mobile Cafe served up the food. With a brew in one hand and a camera in the other, the happy beer lovers took their turns documenting the occasion by posing for a memorable snapshot in front of the semi truck long, panoramic painted, one-time trash collector--including yours truly.


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