Event Recap: Craft and Draft 3rd Birthday Party

The following was on-track for a Wednesday publishing, when a Tuesday night thunderstorm had other plans, knocking out my cable and internet. Things finally got up and running on Friday. I apologize for the delay, and am glad to finally be able to bring you this recap. -Justin


On Saturday afternoon, I took the opportunity help celebrate the 3rd birthday of one of my favorite beer stops in Columbia, SC. Craft and Draft is not a large space, by any means, but co-founders Kellan Monroe and Andrew Johnson have gone to great lengths to make C & D the premier beer bar and bottle shop in the city of Columbia. They only have a dozen taps and a couple of stand-up coolers of cold beer to go with several shelves of take-home (room temperature) options. But you will never find a Budweiser or Coors Light here, and I find that they have set themselves apart from most of the other notable craft beer spots in the city by continually having beers and breweries that can't be found anywhere else in Columbia!


Beyond the beer selection, Craft and Draft is not your average bar--they will be closed by 10pm at the absolute latest on any given night, so it's not a "go and get hammered" kind of a place, though that isn't your typical craft beer drinker's goal, anyway. In following with their usual hours, the party ran from noon to 7pm. By 3pm, the place was pretty packed.


Again, not a large place.

In addition to a quality line-up of regional drafts inside the shop,


there were also a good variety of beers outside the store, including breweries from Gainesville, Florida, and multiple North Carolina locales. Again, Craft and Draft brought in breweries we tend to not see too much (Bhramari & Twin Leaf from Asheville and Swamp Head in Gainesville), despite the fact that virtually everything at the party was made within 200 miles of Columbia! Also outside were a number of food trucks including the local TV stars from the 2 Fat 2 Fly stuffed chicken wing truck!

In the end, this was a seemingly successful and definitely well-attended event. Craft and Draft brought a solid beer selection to the party--it's always nice to get beers from folks we don't always see here in Columbia. THAT is Craft and Draft's hallmark, and it makes the life of a craft beer adventurer like me MUCH easier! Cheers to Andrew, Kellan, and everyone at Craft and Draft! Here's hoping for many, many more years!

Beers in Review: A Local Duo

In today's BiR, I check out a couple more beers from right here in Columbia, including a collaboration with one of my favorite bottle shops.

But first up is a Dunkel, or dark lager, from traditional German-style brewer Bierkeller Columbia. Their Fastenbier is what they call a "Franconian Dunkel", referring to a Dunkel style from a specific region in central Germany (as opposed to the more common, at least in America, Munich Dunkel, named after the city in southern Germany). In their preparation of this Franconian Dunkel, Bierkeller uses smoked malts, and I'm not sure if this contributed to what I interpreted as a bit of an odd flavor note. The Fastenbier pours a cola brown, comes in at 5.1% ABV, and I found it to be quite roasty, almost to the point of char, but not crossing the line. Presumably, that is the first indication of these smoked malts. I got a little bit of chocolate maltiness and perhaps a hint of cola, but the beer is not very sweet at all. There are also some roasted grain notes, but the flavor note that surprised me was green olives, which I found throughout the drinking experience. I'm not sure if my palate was interpreting some combination in an odd way, or the smoked malts influenced me in this flavor direction, but it was a distracting note that I found it very difficult to overlook. I have always found Bierkeller's beers to be well-executed, even if they aren't to my particular liking (mostly, I'm looking at the Rauchbier on this one), but this odd olive note seemed out of place to me. Otherwise, I found it to be fairly light and sessionable beer that didn't hang around too long, which made it easy to move on to the next beer.

Next up is a collaboration between River Rat Brewery and Craft and Draft bottle shop. I found Nah Mean? Peaches and Cream to be a very well-executed Cream Ale. Clocking in at 5% ABV, and pouring a hazy yellow-gold color, this Cream Ale brings a whole bunch of corn and grain notes with a perfectly mild amount of sweetness and a slight bitterness. Add a medium-light body and a fairly refreshing finish, and this adds up to a very nice, if simple, Cream Ale.

News/Beers in Review: Asheville's Burial Beer invades South Carolina!

This week, Asheville, NC-based Burial Beer Company is celebrating its invasion of South Carolina by holding several events across three of South Carolina's key markets. I'm glad to say the invasion began right here in Columbia, with tap takeovers at local bottle shop Craft and Draft and downtown bar The Whig, with additional availability in the Columbia area.


Last night's Columbia events are being followed by similar takeovers starting tonight in Greenville and Charleston, where events will continue through the weekend.

Having visited Burial Beer in Asheville, I took the opportunity to check out the takeover going on at Craft and Draft. Their tap line-up included 5 Burial beers.


I took the opportunity to check out the two IPAs Burial had on tap, starting with the session IPA (number 3 on the big board).

Burial's Ceremonial Session IPA checks the ABV box for "sessionable" at just 4%. This particular version of Ceremonial was brewed with Eureka hops--it seems they produce various batches using different hop varietals--and pours a hazy straw color, and musters a powerful pine hop aroma. This pine note carries through into the taste, though it's not quite as strong, and blends with some dank notes and a hint of citrus. There is almost no hop bite, just a slight bite in the aftertaste, and the flavors linger for only a brief time after the drinking experience.

The second Burial beer I had at the takeover was the Tuskhorn IPA. This Tuskhorn clocks in at 7.5% ABV, and was made using Citra, Centennial, and Blonde Ella hops. The beer poured an orange-gold color, and was somewhat hazy with just under a finger's worth of lingering pillowy head. Despite being an American IPA, this beer had a powerful hop bite throughout the entire tasting experience, along with tons of pine and citrus notes, including a bit of a lemon and/or lemon candy hint. These massive flavors dissipated fairly quickly in the aftertaste, which I found surprising, given how bold those flavors were.

My congratulations to Burial Beer Company on a successful initial foray into the state of South Carolina. I hope that success carries through for this week's and weekend's events, and long into the future!

Event Recap: Craft and Draft Octoberfest Celebration at Music Farm

Hello, friends. If you were expecting the next installment in the Octoberfest video review series, I have a bit of a curveball for you. This will formally mark the first in a new occasionally occurring series called "Event Recaps". Any beer festivals, special tastings, or other beer events I attend, I will do my best to provide either a written or video recap of the event.

The event in question is last Sunday's Octoberfest celebration curated and run by local bottle bar Craft and Draft and held at the Music Farm concert venue in Columbia. Check out my video recap:


I also have a few pictures from the event:


As an aside, I promise my video editing skills will improve.

The next video in the Octoberfest beer video series will be posted tomorrow. In that video, I will discuss the release order for the next few videos. See you then. Cheers!

Beers in Review: I am Gruit

Hello, everyone! I am back, and mostly better from the bug that sidelined me for part of the holiday weekend. I even have a couple of beers to write about, including two collaborations, one of which is a largely long-forgotten style that I had never heard of before.

That beer, you may have guessed, is known as a Gruit. It's a style of hopless, herbal drink that goes back into medieval times and further, gradually getting phased out throughout Europe between the 11th and 16th centuries. Gruit uses bittering herbs instead of hops in the brewing process. This particular Gruit, called This Is How We Gruit, is a collaboration between Tradesman Brewing Company in Charleston, SC and the owners of the bottle shop Craft and Draft here in Columbia. Pouring a muddy gold, this particular Gruit was brewed with ginger, mugwort, juniper berries, rosemary, and several other spices. This beer is very straight-forward--ginger and massive herbal notes come through unabated. It is not sweet, and possesses a very slight bitter note, and a somewhat odd herbal aftertaste. I regret to say that I only finished about 3/4 of a pint. I didn't dislike the beer, by any stretch, but it was drastically different from anything I had ever had before, and by about the halfway point of the pint, I found it to be quite taxing to drink. I pushed through a few more ounces before tapping out. Still, no regrets in having this beer; it was a neat drinking experience.

Second is an offering from Revelry Brewing Company and Octohops Homebrew, both in Charleston, SC. The Octohops guys have been competitively homebrewing for awhile, and they teamed with Revelry to brew a version of their Wise One Hefeweizen which will be entered in next month's Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am competition. The beer pours hazy gold, and has a nice depth of flavor. Mild grain notes blend well with nice spice notes. I detected a hint of citrus as well, I think. The beer is bright and crisp. A nice hefe for the ongoing hot weather here in South Carolina.

Finally, I have Shiner Strawberry Blonde from Spoetzel Brewery in Shiner, Texas. The beer pours a nice golden color, and while my nose is still a bit stuffed up, I had no trouble whatsoever picking up a mighty and pleasing strawberry aroma coming from the beer. The taste has less of the strawberries, but they are still a notable presence in the flavor profile. The beer is quite carbonated, so that the overall effect is very much like that of an unsweetened strawberry soda. A cool effect is that you can pretty well taste all the parts of the strawberry, as in the fruit AND the seeds--there is also a bit of a green plant note, almost as if the stems were also added during the fruit add for this beer. There may also be a slight grainy note, as well, though that just may be me interpreting the greenery notes. The aftertaste is slight but not off-putting, as it almost totally evokes the strawberries. 

Beers in Review: I don't have a witty title in me

We start off today's reviews with Sea to Sea Lager from Green Flash Brewing Company. It pours a pale gold, and features bready and crackery notes with just a hint of malty sweetness. I also got a slight amount of bitterness, and something soap-like. It's a pretty crisp beer, and is generally more flavorful than your standard lager. It makes for a decent summer beer.

Next up is Off Color Brewing's Sparkles Find Some Trouble Gose (a name that made me quite glad that I could simply order it as "number 4"). This gose pours a ruby red grapefruit, and has a ton going on. I'm not big on smell, but I could immediately detect some majorly funky aromas. Upon sipping, my first impression was more Belgian ale than gose, but this changed as my palate adapted. There are tons of light fruity and floral notes, as well as a bit of citrus acidity. The funky note translates into the taste, especially as it warms. I found some of the key gose components, sourness and saltiness, both to be pretty mild overall. Some surprises in this gose, but pretty enjoyable, overall.

Finally for today, the first of several beers from Saturday afternoon/evening's Craft and Draft bottle shop 2nd birthday party. It was a great party, with multiple unique beer offerings, live music, food trucks. This was a Craft and Draft collaboration with Thomas Creek Brewery, resulting in the Slapricot Session Ale. Complexities in the mouthfeel were notable, blending fruity juicyness with an effervescent carbonation. There was plenty of apricot flavor, but the ale wasn't too sweet. Combined with the mouthfeel, I got more an impression of a mild fruity Italian soda instead of a beer. A mild funky note also slyly creeped into this session ale, as well.