Food & Drink

Surge beer columnist rounds up the latest Myrtle Beach craft beer news

We were pickin’ and grinnin’ (and drinkin’) at the Market Common on April 19 for the inaugural Beer, BBQ and Bluegrass event. There were a few moments the day before when it looked like the event was going to be postponed due to the rain – but the weather pulled through and it turned out to be a slightly chilly, but dry day for a festival. We arrived around 2:45 p.m. and surveyed the grounds, met up with friends and found a spot to set up our chairs.

I immediately started roaming the beer tents to see what was being offered. The draft beer wagon was pouring Ellida IPA and Golden Fleece Belgian Pale ale from Quest Brewing, Black Perle black IPA from RJ Rockers and a surprise that had me slightly giddy – the rye bourbon barrel-aged Cappuccino Stout from Lagunitas. This was the keg that was left over from the Myrtle Beach Beer Festival – the beer that I mentioned in this column as being possibly my favorite beer of the day. Needless to say, I purchased a pint of it and set about sticking my nose in the plastic cup, sipping it noisily and fawning over my liquid prize.

I then made my way over to the next booth, which was selling some bottles of various Smuttynose beers and a few drafts out of a jockey box. There I found another Quest Brewing beer – Smoking Mirror Smoked Porter, and purchased a pint of it for my wife. I took a couple of sips of her beer and enjoyed its roasty, smoky taste and smooth, slick mouth feel.

This wasn’t just a beer fest, so I had to check out not only the bluegrass music of Sawgrass on stage, but also the barbecue being prepared by several vendors on hand. I opted for the Shore Dog from Jersey Dogs – it came with cheese and sauerkraut. An interesting combo for sure – the smoky dog went down surprisingly easy with my coffee stout.

Stone Tap Takeover at Hurricane Maggie’s

Stone Brewing’s South Carolina regional brewery representative, Jason Selby, was on hand at Hurricane Maggie’s on Friday, April 25 for the Stone Brewing Tap Takeover. He brought with him four brews for the event: the American barleywine, Old Guardian; the smooth and roasty Stone Imperial Russian Stout; the new session beer, Go To IPA; and one of my all-time favorites, the uber-hoppy Sublimely Self-Righteous black IPA.

I ordered a pint of the Go To IPA and got to speak with Selby, as well as Morgan Dendy, from the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation, who is spearheading the “Bring Stone to the Beach” campaign. Selby wasn’t able to offer any insight as to whether Stone had made any final decisions as to where the California-based micro brewing company will be opening its East Coast brewery, but that didn’t stop us from discussing the many benefits that the brewery and the necessary law change would bring to the area’s local breweries and brewpubs. The turnout for the event was impressive and brought many folks out to Hurricane Maggie’s to see and taste what all the hubbub is about Stone Brewing.

“Stone Bill” Aims to Reform Brewpub Law

The Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation has been hard at work with its social media campaign trying to lure the tenth largest craft brewer to our shore. The EDC has done a great job – and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by other communities around the state, as well as Stone Brewing executives.

However, the request for proposal outlined exactly what Stone was looking to do – open a brewery with an onsite brewpub and beer garden, similar to what the company currently has in California. Problem is – it is against the law in South Carolina for a brewpub to distribute its beer to retailers – in other words, to accommodate Stone, the entire brewpub law needs overhauling.

And that is exactly what the S.C. Brewer’s Association is trying to do. With the backing of the state’s Department of Commerce, a bill was introduced by Senator Sean Bennett of Summerville that would essentially re-write the state’s antiquated brewpub law. The bill calls for an increase in the amount of beer a brewpub can produce – from 2,000 barrels a year to 500,000, as well as the ability to package its beers for distribution.

Even if the bill doesn’t pass until next year, its impact will still be huge for brewers in the state. First, it would roll out the welcome mat for other craft brewers looking to expand their operations. Second, existing breweries in the state could use the law to expand their on-site sales revenue. And third, existing brewpubs could package their beers, as well as pour them at festivals. But, at its core, the bill is about the economic impact and the jobs it can bring to our state. We may need to contact our lawmakers to voice our support – so stay tuned to this column, as well as my Facebook page, for updates on the bill.

Upcoming events

Saturday (May 3) is the Rivertown Music & Craft Beer Festival in downtown Conway from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery is hosting a Craft Beer Week from May 12-18 featuring a grand reopening of the brewpub and overhauls of the menu, beer garden and dining room. Liberty will have specials all week and is tapping two special beers for the event – an imperial chocolate cherry porter and a saison, and two special firkins (one fourth the size of regular beer barrels).