It’s always great to see a new brewery begin distributing in South Carolina, and 2012 has been one of the strongest years in recent memory. During the past 12 months, Founders and Foothills have returned to the Palmetto State after a too-long absence, Coast and Holy City upped their distribution to the Midlands area, and a wealth of new breweries began distribution.
Since January – and this is off the top of my head – Green Flash, Aviator, Anderson Valley, Breckenridge, Goose Island and Lazy Magnolia have all found a home in South Carolina. (I’m sure there have been more, but they escape me right now.) While there’s no indication of who will be the next to announce distribution here, 2013 will certainly see a few new breweries pop up.
That got me thinking of which breweries I wanted to see distributed in South Carolina. After perusing my Untappd profile and weighing the options, I’ve compiled a list of the five breweries I hope to see distributed around here sooner or later.
There are a few caveats. Of course I’d like to see regional breweries in Georgia or North Carolina move into their neighboring state, but I don’t feel as if they’re so out of reach that I couldn’t visit or have a friend send me some without much time or effort. There are others – Russian River, Three Floyds, Cigar City, etc. – that everyone wants and of course would be welcomed but I honestly don’t see popping up around here anytime soon, if ever. (Cigar City, maybe, but RR and FFF? Never.)
But for the following breweries – all of which already have or will soon have a home in surrounding states – it’s reasonable to assume they could move into South Carolina fairly easily, and if the market demands it. So, in no particular order, here’s who I’d like to have ‘round these parts.
Boulevard Brewing Co.
My first taste of Kansas City, MO’s Boulevard came a little more than a year ago while I was at Fort Leavenworth, KS, for a conference. Around those parts, Boulevard flows like water. They’re one of the biggest breweries in the midwest, meaning their Pale Ale, Single-Wide IPA and Unfiltered Wheat Beer are everywhere. Every bar has it and there was even a Boulevard tap house in the airport as I was flying out. (I killed a good bit of time there before boarding sampling a bunch of different beers.)
Ever since then, I’ve been hoping to get another taste. Which I have … during trips to Georgia and North Carolina, where the brewery is distributed in the Southeast. Fortunately, instead of starting out with just core brands, those states have gotten seasonal offerings as well as the Smokestack Series, which is where they shine. The Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, Long Strange Tripel and Dark Truth Stout are all superb, and I have a bottle of their Sixth Glass quad taunting me in my fridge.
Boulevard has a sort of nostalgia for me. Aside from being excellent, I first got to try them on one of the most memorable trips of my life. Seeing how quickly and robustly they debuted in surrounding states makes me think it won’t be too long before we see them in South Carolina.
21st Amendment Brewery
Another great brewery that taunts me from just across the state line is San Francisco-based 21st Amendment, named – of course – for the amendment that gave America beer yet again.
As with Boulevard, both North Carolina and Georgia receive 21st Amendment regularly, which means I’ve had the opportunity to have every one of their regularly released beers time and time again. And time and time again, I am consistently pleased with what they put out.
Hell or High Watermelon is one of my wife’s favorite beers. No matter where we go or what season it is, if she sees a six-pack, she’s going for it. I prefer the oak-aged Hop Crisis DIPA or the insanely complex and even more insanely delicious Monk’s Blood, but everything they put out has never disappointed.
And that’s why I want them here. For a brewery to be that consistent and that good speaks to the quality of their product. And newer beers such as Marooned on Hog Island make them even more desirable. It’s the kind of beer I’d pick up on the way to a party without a second thought (when I’m not drinking local, of course.)
It’s good to have friends in high places, or at least friends in higher places on the map. Especially if they live right around Brooklyn, home of Sixpoint. For me, it means tallboy canned goodness from the formerly draft-only brewery arrive via beer mail on the regular.
Outside of the Northeast, it’s hard to find anything from Sixpoint. But that will change soon as the brewery recently announced they’ll begin distributing in Atlanta, which is generally viewed as a major test market for the Southeast. While they’re still a really small brewery, it’s reassuring to know they’re taking an interest in my neck of the woods.
At this point, I’ve tried two seasonals – Autumnation and Apollo – and two of their newer core beers – Resin and Brownstone – and the brewery is 4-4 with me. As I write this, I have a back of Diesel (another one I’ve had but not reviewed) en route from New York. Based on the word that this year’s batch is much improved, I suspect they’ll be 5-5 soon enough.
Port Brewing Co./The Lost Abbey
Fortunately, I don’t have to choose between one or the other, because if the San Marcos, CA, brewery ever gets around to crossing to South Carolina from Georgia or North Carolina, we’ll likely get both.
When it comes to hoppy beers, Port excels. Their Wipeout IPA and Mongo DIPA are both just so damn good and incredibly strong West Coast beers. But they’re not limited to hoppy beers. Old Viscosity was superb, as was Older Viscosity, which I enjoyed the night before my wedding earlier this year.
And being a fan of Belgian-style beers, The Lost Abbey has always impressed with with a different take on some classic styles, such as their Judgement Day quad and the Ten Commandments Belgian strong ale. And the stouts I’ve had – Serpent’s Stout, Deliverance – have been phenomenal and made it incredibly hard to not crack open the bottle of Angel’s Share I have in my cellar.
Epic Brewing Co.
Who would have thought the heart of Mormonism would be responsible for some incredibly inventive and tasty beers?
That’s exactly what Utah-based Epic Brewing has been doing in just a few short years. (Don’t confuse them with the New Zealand brewery of the same name, which is also great.) These guys aren’t playing around with their beers either. They specialize in big beers in more ways than one. Most of the beers I’ve had from them come from their limited Exponential Series, including the Sour-Apple Saison, Elder Brett, Brainless on Peaches, Fermentation Without Representation and the almost-too-good-for-words Big Bad Baptist.
Specializing in big over-the-top beers can sometimes backfire, but Epic does it right. They’re not big for the sake of being big. They’re trying to up the game and bring the respective styles up a notch. Their beers are intensely flavorful, creative and – most importantly of all – incredibly enjoyable.