Craft beer is no longer a trend, nor simply an alternative to the standard “imported or domestic” variety.
The fact that microbreweries permeate nearly every inch of the map these days signals that the rise of craft beer is something much grander. It’s the artisan’s new frontier, a virtually endless canvas for creativity where success is not necessarily market share, but the taste of a quality concoction.
For many breweries, especially in Charleston, it’s also a way to bottle their hometown’s unique identity. Local breweries have at least a few beers with locally sourced ingredients or Charleston-related references.
Take Holy City Brewing’s Chucktown Follicle Brown, for instance. The brown ale was created as an ode to the Holy City Beard & Moustache Society, and the beer cans are adorned with the very hairy face of the organization’s founder, Paul Roof.
These are the things that make craft beer a wellspring of cultural richness. It’s why many locals wear their hometown brands like a badge of honor, why tourists equate visiting a local craft brewery to sightseeing.
And it’s why Chrys Rynearson and Timmons Pettigrew decided to start Charleston Beer Week in 2013.
“We want to entice people who may have just gotten into craft beer,” Rynearson said. “And we do want to help promote our own local microbreweries because these (brewers), they’re in it for the right reasons. They’re not making tons of money. They love it for the craft, and any time we can help promote that, we just want to take advantage of it.”
Charleston Beer Week starts Sunday and continues through Sept. 19 with 42 events celebrating Charleston’s unique beer culture. You can find a full schedule with all the event descriptions at www.charlestonbeerweek.com, but here’s a few highlights to get your mouth watering.
Now a staple of the weeklong festivities, the All SC Tap Takeover at Closed for Business on Tuesday is a must for beer nerds and newbies alike. The pub at 453 King St. dedicates all 42 of its taps to beers made in South Carolina, from local favorites to special brews made in the Upstate. For seasoned craft beer drinkers, it’s a treasure trove of unique ales that wouldn’t always be found on tap at local watering holes. In general, it’s a one-stop shop to get to know the statewide beer culture. The event starts at 6 p.m. While you don’t need tickets, the cold ones will cost you.
Another event centered around state and local brews is the She’s Crafty showcase on Wednesday at Craftsmen Kitchen & Taphouse at 12 Cumberland St. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. and will debut all-new brews specifically crafted by women at Tradesman Brewing, Frothy Beard Brewing, Holy City Brewing, Fat Pig Brewing, Freehouse Brewery, Revelry Brewing and Quest Brewing of Greenville.
The female brewers were part of the new program called “BREWSTER,” which is an acronym for Building Relationships & Empowering Women Striving To Exist Responsibly. One dollar from each beer sold at the event will benefit the Center for Women, a local organization that strives to support and empower women in every aspect of their lives.
In recent years, sour beers and wild ales have become all the rage with beer enthusiasts and brewers. But sour beer isn’t a new concept. In fact, it’s sort of like the throwback thrill of the beer scene. You see, all beers used to be sour. Then, at some point, beer makers started to understand the chemistry a little better, so they introduced new sterilization and pasteurization processes that rid the beers of the sour-causing microorganisms. Now, beermakers everywhere are reintroducing them with different fermentation strategies.
Revelry Brewing Co., one of the newest breweries to open in Charleston, hopes to lead the charge of the sour beer trend in Charleston, according to owner Jay Daratony.
“The whole concept of sour beer and wild ale is really bridging the gap between beer and wine,” he said, explaining that many are barrel-aged, just like wine.
On Wednesday, Revelry at 10 Conroy St. will celebrate the trend with the Sour & Wild Ale Tap Takeover from 4 to 10 p.m. with the brewery’s own creations, and several from five other breweries: Against the Grain of Louisville, Ky.; Green Man of Asheville; Jolly Pumpkin of Dexter, Mich.; Green Bench of St. Petersburg, Fla.; and Jester King of Austin, Texas.
Another party celebrating all beers that are wild, barrel-aged and sour is Flowertown’s Funky Firkin Fest on Sept. 19 at Oak Road Brewery, 108 E 3rd N St., Summerville. More than 20 breweries from around South Carolina will participate, with more breweries to be announced closer to the event. Tickets are $55 and include unlimited beer samples and a tasting glass. Food trucks also will be on site.
Charleston Beer Week may offer its fair share of sophisticated samplings, but some events are just aimed at having fun. Back by popular demand this year is the ’80s Field Day at The Barrel, 1859 Folly Road, starting at 2 p.m. Sept. 19. Attendees are encouraged to dress in their best ’80s-style sports gear and team up for games and relay races borrowed from your typical elementary school field day. Think tug of war, three-legged races, a balloon pop — you know, all those highly athletic sports. There will be plenty of craft beers on tap and prizes to be won.
On Tuesday, head to Big Game Bar & Grill at 545 Belle Station Blvd. in Mount Pleasant for Holy City, Homebrews & Bocce Ball tournament starting at 6 p.m. The highlights of the event include special taps by Holy City Brewing and homebrewing demonstrations from Yeast: Everything Homebrew. As an added bonus, the first 50 patrons to order a pint from Holy City will receive a free Charleston Beer Week pint glass.
Both events are free to attend, but you’ll have to pay your way through the beers and bites.
Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail.