The last two weekends provided Myrtle Beach area beer geeks and partiers with ample chances to hoist a pint celebrating the German autumn festival of Oktoberfest. The 7th annual Myrtle Beach Oktoberfest started on a Friday evening (Oct. 3) at the Market Common, running through to the next day (Oct. 4), and we made it out to the festival grounds around 2 p.m. on Oct. 4.
The annual fest was laid out differently this year – with food and beer vendors set up on Hackler Street on the east end of Valor Park. Smaller vendors were underneath the gazebo that runs the length of the park, while the live music stage was set up in the same spot – in front of Nevers Street near the fountain.
The Better Brands beer truck was set up and pouring Sam Adams Octoberfest, Terrapin RecreationAle, Lagunitas IPA, Lone Rider Shotgun Betty Hefeweizen, New South Oktoberfest and Angry Orchard Cider. There were also miscellaneous bottles of craft and German beer for sale, as well as wine and Bud Light.
We set up our campsite and made our rounds – checking out all the vendors. Besides a few arts and crafts and timeshare booths, there was a vendor selling apple fries that were really tasty. I washed mine down with some Lagunitas IPA, but needed something a bit more substantial. I opted for a bratwurst from the Piggly Wiggly, with German potato salad and spaetzle and shared some sauerbraten with red cabbage. It was all fantastic – the sauerbraten was super tender and definitely not too “sauer.”
The next Saturday (Oct. 11) was the inaugural North Myrtle Beach Oktoberfest at the new NMB Park and Sports Complex. We had gone to the park a few weeks ago and I said at the time that the meadow in the center of the park would be the perfect spot for a beer festival. Apparently the folks at Festival Promotions thought the same thing. And it was a really great place for a fest – although I was surprised to see the meadow serving double duty as the festival grounds as well as parking lot. Luckily there was no rain to get things muddy. In fact, it seemed more like a summer day than a fall day – with lots of sun and temperatures well into the 80s.
The beer choices were a bit more limited compared to the Market Common event. The beer truck was equipped with taps pouring Oktoberfest Marzens by New South and Sam Adams and a pumpkin beer from Smuttynose, along with Angry Orchard cider and Bud Light. The assorted craft bottles included witbiers from Aviator and RJ Rockers and Maggie’s Farm Peach Saison from Terrapin. I chose the Maggie’s Farm and we made our way to the amphitheater to set up our chairs and take in the live music.
One thing was missing from both fests, however – a big brass and accordion-slinging oompah band. Instead of the endless drinking songs and chicken dances, the Tan & Sober Gentlemen played an Irish-inspired set that got the crowd dancing. It was an interesting change of pace, even if it did seem a bit odd to be listening to Irish music at an Oktoberfest – but they were really good and we found ourselves really enjoying their set.
On the beer horizon
• Nov. 1 is National Learn to Homebrew Day, and in celebration, the Homebrewer’s Pantry in Conway is inviting those interested in learning the hobby to the store from 1-7 p.m.. There will be demos to watch experienced brewers brew all-grain, extract and even winemaking. There will be homebrew samples, and food provided by the Crafty Rooster. The Homebrewer’s Pantry is located at 1015 4th Avenue in downtown Conway.
• The 4th annual Brewing at the Beach is set for Nov. 15 at New South Brewing in Myrtle Beach. This is a great chance for those thinking about getting into homebrewing as a hobby (or an obsession). There will be homebrewing demonstrations, as well as samples. New for this year is a competition that pairs local homebrewers with craft beer-friendly businesses. Each business and homebrewer got together to come up with a beer recipe that represents the business. Event goers will be able to judge the beers and pick their favorites. The businesses have donated prizes for the winners. The Piggly Wiggly at Market Common will provide food.
• New to South Carolina, a Boulevard Brewing Kick Off Beer Dinner is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Crafty Rooster in downtown Conway. Celebrity Chef Celina Tio will cook dinner and serve up Boulevard beers, including Love Child, Bourbon Barrel Quad and Imperial Stout. Cost is $40. Seats are limited – call the Crafty Rooster to make reservations at 438-8330.
Also, Nov. 6, The Crafty Rooster is hosting a Stone Brewing tap takeover. All 14 of the downtown Conway pub’s taps will pour Stone beers.