Beers in Review: A Red of a Different Color

Leading things off is Charleston’s Revelry Brewing Company and their American Amber Ale, which is simply called Red. Now, I’m presuming this is a Revelry limited release—the website doesn’t even acknowledge the beer’s existence, and the only web presence I could find of Red was through Untappd, the beer-logging app/website. Even there, there was no ABV or IBU data to be had, so let’s just forge ahead. The beer pours just like an Amber Ale: a clear orange-gold color, and it had a pretty heavy mouthfeel. The flavor profile was as expected, with malty caramel and dark sugar notes, and maybe even some dark chocolate, as well. I was not a fan of the finish. I found it surprisingly bitter, which is fairly out-of-style and put me off on the beer, a bit.

If you’ve read this blog with any regularity, you are well aware of my love for Highland Brewing Company. One of their newer year-round offerings is the sessionable Daycation IPA. Coming in at just 4.9% ABV and 40 IBU, Highland brought a varied malt profile, including rye and oats, to create a balanced, quaffable Session IPA. It pours a cloudy, golden straw color, and I felt floral notes were really at the forefront of the tasting experience. Other flavors included moderate citrus and mild spicy and herbal notes. The finish featured a slight hop bite, but was otherwise fairly clean.

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: 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: Finally caught up!

So, this review includes beers from the last two weekends, meaning I'm all caught up on my beers I've drank while out and about in Columbia. This means I need to start drinking more beer--what a torturous life to lead.

Before starting one comment on a beer from a couple of weeks ago. I had Stone's Go To IPA at a local establishment. Now, I don't really have a frame of reference for how this beer should taste, but this beer seemed very obviously off. A colleague of mine with a better idea for Go To's flavor confirmed the same thing, describing it with a pretty unsavory descriptor. This leads me to believe it was a single bad keg or something bad in the bar's set-up. I want to give both the beer and bar the benefit of the doubt, so I am declining to say much about the beer itself, other than I will give it another try at some point, if for no other reason than Stone's quality reputation.

Onto the reviews.

Westbrook Brewing Company has certainly established a reputation as arguably THE top brewery in South Carolina, and one of the best in the country. Beers like their Goze and Mexican Cake are held in the highest regard, and White Thai is a personal favorite. Their seasonal collaboration with The Charleston Beer Exchange, called Citrus Ninja Exchange, is a Double IPA that is pretty light in color. Grapefruit is one of prime ingredients of this beer, resulting citrusy hops and a fruity taste with a pretty clean finish. At 9% ABV, I felt the booze came through more and more as the beer warmed up.

Another Charleston, SC brewery, Revelry Brewing Company, is new to me. They seem to finally be making their way inland from the SC coast. I got to try one of their IPAs, Funkmaster Brett and the Furious Hops. Officially listed as a "Belgian IPA", this beer didn't have a huge hop flavor. I detected some citrusy sourness. I also got a bit of a red wine-like aftertaste. Perhaps this is a result of some blending of styles. Overall, a pretty quaffable beer.

Redhook's Longhammer IPA is a pretty commonly available craft IPA among the Columbia watering holes. Longhammer brought a balanced hop flavor with some mild bitterness. There was also a hint of caramelly sweetness early in the mouthful that resolved to some more piney hop flavors pretty quickly. However, I found that sweetness mixed with some maltiness to hang around longer as the beer warmed up.

This was a trio of varying-style IPAs that were all quite enjoyable.