Beers in Review: From Opposite Ends of South Carolina

So, since I got a new computer, I had to archive my review tracker. I don’t know off-hand whether or not I’ve reviewed this first beer yet. I’m guessing yes, but my rule is six months, and it’s DEFINITELY been longer than that…I can tell by how little writing I’ve done in that time. Moving on.

We begin in the Charleston area with Washout Wheat from Holy City Brewing Company, one of my favorites from the lower part of the state (at least, amongst beers that make it up here). The beer checks in the low 5s in ABV (I’ve seen different numbers from different sources; the HC site says 5.3) and pours a fairly hazy dark straw color—pretty much on point for style. Holy City says they let the base ingredients (namely wheat and yeast) generate this beer’s flavor profile without added ingredients. Resulting flavors include cloves, and a hint of banana that comes through more at the end of the drinking experience and in to the aftertaste. Light flavors and a refreshing, effervescent mouthfeel make this a solid summer wheat beer.

Next is Birds Fly South Ale Project and Apologize Less #6. The sixth in their series of double dry-hopped IPA, it is, essentially, a New England IPA that checks in at 6.3% ABV. It pours quite hazy, and reminded me of orange juice, frankly. I got grassy notes, along with orange/citrus and just a hint of pine tree; the pine really came through in the finish. There was also a mild hop bite that passed through the entire drinking experience. In the end, I found this to be a really tasty NE IPA.

The Funk Collective Update: More Details, Participating Breweries, and More

On Wednesday, I told you about a new sour and rare beer festival that is being presented by 2 South Carolina breweries and one SC-based bottle shop/beer curator. Now, Birds Fly South, Revelry, and The Community Tap have released more information on The Funk Collective, a two-day invitational event to be held this July in Greenville, SC.

For starters, the two breweries, will alternate years of hosting the festival. Greenville-based Birds Fly South is hosting this year, with the festival moving to Charleston, home of Revelry Brewing, next year.

On Friday, July 7th will be the Upstate (next year Coastal) Brewery Showcase, a VIP-only event for 150-200 people and will feature about 15 breweries offering their sour beers for tasting, along with a limited group of rare bottles from across the country.


The Funk Collective main festival will be held on Saturday, July 8th. Over 30 breweries from across the country have committed to attending the festival, which will also feature sour beers.

Tickets for the Saturday Festival only or the Friday/Saturday combination are available here. Also found on that page is a current list of participating breweries for each session. It appears that Friday-only tickets, intended to be a VIP Experience, are not available.

Most importantly, this festival will donate all of its net proceeds to Asheville, North Carolina's Eblen-Kimmel Charities, the original benefiting group Wicked Weed's Funkatorium Invitational, and an unintended victim of the WW/ABI acquisition. Since their mass-pullout from WW's now-postponed and "evolving" event, many craft breweries have donated to Eblen-Kimmel as a show of support to a charity that should not be forced into hardship because of Wicked Weed's decision. The Funk Collective event will be another way to help that group.

South Carolina's Craft Beer Community Taking Advantage of Wicked Weed's Event Issues

One thing that was affected by the Wicked Weed/ABI fallout from earlier this month was July's Wicked Weed Funkatorium Invitational, a sour beer event that was supposed to feature some 70 breweries from across the country. Once the acquisition news was released, most of the independent craft breweries backed out, and WW announced their intent to postpone, reschedule, and "evolve" the Invitational, which is likely just code for "maybe people will care less about the acquisition in 4 months."

Well, yesterday, some members of the South Carolina craft beer community saw a sour beer-sized hole in the beer festival schedule, and jumped on the opportunity. Greenville's Birds Fly South Ale Project is partnering with Charleston's Revelry Brewing Company and Greenville-based bottle shop and beer curator The Community Tap to put on The Funk Collective, a two-day show featuring funky and sour beers.

Day One of the event will consist of "local artisan food & brews and rare bottles", while Day Two will be the main festival, which will feature funky and sour beers from over 25 breweries. Most importantly, this festival will donate all of its net proceeds to Asheville, North Carolina's Eblen-Kimmel Charities, the original benefiting group of the Funkatorium Invitational, and an unintended victim of Wicked Weed's decision. Since their pullouts from the WW event, many craft breweries have donated to Eblen-Kimmel as a show of support to a charity that should not be forced into hardship because of Wicked Weed's decision. The Funk Collective event will be another way to help that group.

Birds Fly South's Ames Webb released the following statement on the event:

This gathering of funky brewers isn’t a statement on the WW decision. All of the good in the craft community should be highlighted. We founded the Funk Collective with Revelry Brewing Co. because the funk and sour community is strong and we need to continue to come together and celebrate it.

The event will be held on July 7 and 8. Participating breweries and more information will be released later this week, and I will keep you apprised of the latest on this festival.

Beers in Review: Triple Play

With my seemingly endless blog posts about Wicked Weed and AB-InBev, I seem to have pushed nearly everything else aside. But now, the big news has passed, and we can start getting back to normal. My BiR list is so backed-up that today I will bring you not two, but THREE entries! Let's dive in!

First up is a collaboration between Charlotte's Unknown Brewing Company and Greenville, SC's Birds Fly South Ale Project. 10-Minute Vacation is a lager (4.3% ABV) flavored with Muscadine grapes and dry-hopped with Mosaic and Equinox hops. The pale yellow lager with a light-to-medium body brings a mild sweetness coming from the grapes that ramps up as the lager warms. The grapes and the sweetness from them really serve to smooth out a great deal of what would be pretty considerable grainy notes and hop bite. Both of these things do still exist, but are knocked down in intensity, with the grains being found earlier in the drinking experience, while the hop bite comes through at the very end.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is famous for its 60-, 90-, and 120-minute IPAs, and makes a number of other quality brews, but Raison D'Extra is something else. A ramped-up version of their Raison D'Etre Belgian-style Dark Ale, D'Extra comes in at a massive 16-18% ABV! I had the opportunity to try the 2014 version recently, and the booze notes, while present, are surprisingly downplayed in a mid-teens ABV beer. Pouring a cloudy icea tea color, D'Extra is dominated by raisins, cherries, plums, and other dark fruits. There is a fair amount of sweetness, along with some tobacco notes, and some other spiciness (perhaps cinnamon?). I got a small sample (4 oz.) of this beer, and it was really good, but I wouldn't want too much more than that sample glass. I could see it becoming overwhelming.

Finally, I went back to one of my old favorites, Highland Brewing Company, and St. Terese's Pale Ale. It pours a clear golden color, has a medium-to-heavy body, and comes in at 5.1% ABV. Lots of different hop flavor notes are present in this Pale Ale, including lots of citrus, some grassy or leafy notes, and a bit of pine. There is also a slight sweetness and some bready malt notes, along with the slightest hop bite. I found this to be a really enjoyable pale ale, as I've come to expect from Highland.

South Carolina-based Brewery (Among Others) Pulls Out of Wicked Weed Event (UPDATED with additional commentary)

UPDATE, 9:13PM: In addition to everything below, I would also like to add the following article from the Craft Beer Joe blog. He does a nice job taking on this issue from many different sides.

One of the potentially significant casualties in this Wicked Weed acquisition by ABI is an upcoming Wicked Weed event called the Funkatorium Invitational. To be held this July, the Invitational was an opportunity for brewers from across the country to come together and celebrate one of Wicked Weed's biggest successes: the development of the sour beer.

In light of yesterday's news, outlets are reporting that at least a dozen of the 70 breweries scheduled to appear at this event have now pulled out. Despite the setbacks, which may continue in the coming days, Wicked Weed remains committed to the event, but is offering refunds to those who desire them.

Among the pullouts is the Greenville, South Carolina-based Birds Fly South Ale Project. As a South Carolina-based blogger, I was eager to hear their plans on the Invitational specifically, as well as their thoughts on the matter as a whole. I reached out yesterday, and this afternoon, BFS's Ames Webb responded to me with their public statement, which is now available on their website:

In the southeast and across the nation small breweries face significant limitations and challenges because of the economic and legislative efforts put forth by large breweries and distributors. These initiatives create an environment that stagnates innovation, collaboration, and creativity. Smaller operations constantly must find ways to work within these damaging state-level policies, and the results are a severe limitation in financial, cultural, and quality-of-product growth.
At the beginning of this Birds Fly South journey we want to take the culture lessons that have been passed down from our craft brewery friends and mentors to establish an identity our Greenville community and our BFS Flock can be proud of for years to come.
As such, Birds Fly South has decided to withdraw our scheduled participation in the upcoming Wicked Weed festival. This decision is not related to the individuals who work in the extensive Wicked Weed family, and does not come without our entire team involved. We are all trying to make the best choices for ourselves and our families. We understand this is a business decision for Wicked Weed, however we simply cannot participate with the direct lobby group that is influencing SC laws that in turn negatively impact our closest friends.
Our choice is to stand strong in unison with small independent craft breweries. To us this means focusing on what we need to do locally in support of smaller, independent brewers. The concepts and spirit of this craft beer fellowship are the foundation of who we are: an alliance of talented makers, united in our passions, ethics, and practices.

BFS makes an excellent point about ABI's actions that "negatively impact our closest friends". ABI won't only utilize their lobbying resources on state lawmakers all across this country, they use their significant financial resources to strong arm their way into more and more shelf space in grocery stores, gas stations, distributors, and more, ALL at the expense of independent craft brewers and their (in some areas) dwindling commercial footprint. I also love use of the word "fellowship" in the final paragraph.

Anyway, my personal thanks to Birds Fly South for their cooperation. I will post more on this ongoing story as needed.

Beers in Review: Feeling better

I've been a bit under the weather this week, hence no video review during this week. I'm on the upswing, so expect a video tomorrow. It'll be a special one from Stone.

But that's later. For now, I have a few more beers from last weekend's Craft and Draft 2nd birthday, starting with Birds Fly South Strawberry IPA. Pouring a straw-gold color, this beer brings a mild fruity note, along with some grainy notes. Overall, the beer is quite mild, with a little hop bitterness that opens up slightly as it warms up. Really, this beer played to me more like a fruit-infused blonde than an IPA.

Next up is Overly Friendly IPA from Holy City Brewing Company. And man, this one has no problem checking the "IPA" box. Overly Friendly is a massive hop bomb, with 7 different hops used in the making of this beer. The result is an incredibly complex flavor profile led by citrus and pine hop notes. Orange really comes through strongly, and the hop bitterness really carries through the entire sip, and even lingering after the fact. Massively hoppy, but so so good.

Finally, from Catawba Brewing Company, is their Tangerine Wheat, which reportedly was created for Catawba's female business partners and had just been kegged a couple of days before the Craft and Draft party. As expected, the Tangerine Wheat pours a cloudy dark orange. It's generally pretty mild, as I find most of Catawba's beers tend to be, but this beer is crisp and citrusy with a clean finish. Generally enjoyable.