I had plenty of beer when I went down to Simpsonville, SC for Jeremy’s wedding. I’m sure it’s a shocking development to all who read this blog. I wanted to get the Staas Brewing articles posted though. This trip is certainly going to be a multiple post affair too. Jeremy got me two separate six packs, one for hotel consumption and one for wedding consumption. I have only consumed five of these beers so far so those reviews will have to wait. I had two beers out on the town on Thursday and after the wedding for another four beers. Jeremy, The Lady & I also visited Quest Brewing Company prior to the rehearsal dinner. I could probably stop trying beers and still fill columns for the rest of the year. I doubt I’ll stop trying beers though. I’m going to start with the visit to The Southern Growl in Greer, SC which is owned by a friend of a friend and about 30 minutes from the hotel we stayed at.
We were immediately greeted by the Jason, who is friend of a friend in question. He was quite the host for the next two hours that we sat there and drank some beers. We went with an eleven beer sampler tray because The Lady had three of her own choices, two were ciders and one was a local ginger beer akin to a root beer. If you love ginger, that one is right up your alley because they use one pound of ginger for every gallon of water.
Quest Brewing Co. – Kermesse Pumpkin Saison – When we went to The Southern Growl, I was still thinking that we were going to hit another brewery later that night with Jeremy so I ended up ordering beers from a place we would soon be visiting. I have been trying pumpkin beers to see what I want to imitate for my wedding next year. Brewing a pumpkin beer in the Saison style is certainly something different so I had to try it. Kermesse was very light and less spicy than most pumpkin beers which was nice. I wish more of the pumpkin flavor would have come through in such a light beer though. Having a pumpkin beer without allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg was a nice change of pace. The stats for this beer are 25 IBU and 6.6% ABV. Solid beer but I won’t be using it as my template.
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, LLC – Oro De Calabaza – (Top of the black framed picture) This company is out of Dexter, MI which is more of a local drink when I’m at home in Cbus. It was a golden strong ale so I had to compare it to the one I tried from Staas earlier in the month. One problem with comparing them is that this beer is barrel aged in oak which gives it a woody flavor. It was more beer like too. Not many bubbles or the dry after taste like the other one. The spice and pepper was more prominent in this one too. This beer is 8.0% ABV so you can get yourself in trouble with this beer. It was a good beer but I’m sticking with the cleaner flavor just north of Cbus.
Quest Brewing Co. – Silence of the Yams – (Lower left) This beer is not listed on their website. It is a stout that uses yams, which are a popular ingredient in pumpkin beers. They lend a sweetness that is normally provided by milk. The yams bring more flavor to the table in my opinion. It helps to thicken an already thick beer. Silence was smooth and tasty. It is also only 5.0% ABV which makes it a session beer. That sounds like a fantastic plan with this excellent beer.
Westbrook Brewing Co. – Dark Helmet – (Lower right) I had to try this one because I had tried Brew Kettle’s Dark Helmet not that long ago so it’s an OH vs SC comparison beer. Westbrook is based out of Mt. Pleasant SC. It would be funny if they had the same name but different styles of beers. That is not the case though, same name and style for these beers. Westbrook uses 10% malted rye but Brew Kettle doesn’t mention whether it is used or not. There is a mild difference in flavors so I don’t think Brew Kettle uses it. Westbrook uses Carafa and Chocolate malts to get the dark color. I am assuming Brew Kettle uses a similar combination to get the dark color. This beer duel I call a draw though. Very similar beers except in ABV in which case Brew Kettle wins out at 9.0% ABV while Westbrook is 5.9%. Both are very tasty though if you want a black lager.
Terrapin Beer Co. – Midnight Monk – (Upper left of the blue framed picture) This company is out of Athens GA so I’ll call this one a local beer since Athens is only about two hours away. I selected this beer because it is a Belgian style Black IPA. They use six kinds of hops along with dry hopping it with three kinds with Cascade being the only common hop used. All of these hops add up to an 88 IBU rating. As usual, the roasted malt helps to balance out the high IBU. Terrapin continues with the high numbers by having a 9.8% ABV. I wouldn’t go as far as they go and calling this beer a Holy Grail beer, but it’s definitely worth drinking.
River Rat Brewery – Metal Man Pale Ale – (Upper right) This company is out of Columbia SC, which is about an hour and a half away. They don’t have this beer listed on their site. I did however find it on Beer Advocate. It’s an English style Pale Ale, which means the bitterness is tuned out more than an American style Pale Ale. After getting my palate used to hop heavy beers, I expect a little bit of that bitter punch which was missing. This beer is heavy in ABV at 6.3% for a Pale Ale. Solid, but unspectacular beer.
Anderson Valley Brewing Co. – Fall Hornin’ Around – (Lower left) This company has been reviewed in this space a couple of times. I know they brew out of California so it wasn’t remotely local but it is a pumpkin ale so I had to try it. This beer had a similar feel to their Summer Solstice but they added cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin spices to the mix. I love a good malty beer and this one fits the bill. The malt does make a difference as most pumpkin beers don’t use the malt as the sweet component of the beer. It comes more from the spices in other beers. The spices are there in this beer but not as aggressive as normal. It is only 20 IBU to confirm the sweet quotient. Hornin’ Around is 6.0% ABV so it won’t knock you on your ass. Another good beer from a quality company.
Highland Brewing Co. – 20th Anniversary Saison – (Lower right) This company is out of Asheville NC which we drove around on our way to Simpsonville SC. It’s about as far as Columbia. Asheville is also a possible destination for my bachelor party since they’re know for their breweries. The link takes you to Highland’s 20th Anniversary Scotch Ale, which I think is different than their Saison. Their site doesn’t have a Saison listed and Scotch Ales tend to have a red hue. The beer in the lower right is yellow with a slight orange hue. So that leaves me with no stats to write about. On an upside, the beer was light and crisp like most saisons which is good because we needed to get moving…to go to Quest Brewing and a rehearsal dinner. – Kevin