To say the past week has been crazy for the folks over at Conquest is an understatement. After finally getting the OK to sell and distribute their beers, two of the brewery’s flagship brews hit taps across the Columbia area this past Saturday, finally giving people a taste of the Capital City’s first and only production brewery.
It’s safe to say from Day 1, Conquest is a hit.
First, the brews. The Conquest crew decided to start off with Artemis, a 4.2% blonde ale, and Sacred Heart, a 7.2% American IPA. Both beers were being poured at World of Beer and the British Bulldog Pub in Columbia on Saturday, and the brewery had a table set up at the World Beer Fest, which was also in town that day.
With so many beers being poured at the festival, you’d think a small brewery like Conquest might get lost in the mix, right? Wrong. The line at the Conquest booth was so long it nearly doubled back on itself. Even with pours coming briskly, it was the most popular table of the day and the line never let up, according to festival organizers. When I walked through the convention center and came across the line, I was amazed at how many people were waiting. And it wasn’t just first-timers either. There were people in line coming back for seconds, thirds and more. I overheard people raving about the beer, saying how excited they were to finally have a brewery in town and one that was putting out such great beer.
But the excitement wasn’t confined to the festival. Across the street at World of Beer, the brews were just as much of a hit. There was a ton of great beer from nearly every South Carolina brewery on tap, but Conquest was king. The bar regularly tweeted photos of sales numbers throughout the day, and when all was said and done, here was the final tally:
Not only did SC beer make up more than half of the most popular beers on Saturday, but the two Conquest brews nabbed the No. 1 and No. 5 spots. Mind you, the brewery hasn’t even had an official opening yet.
All that being said, it begs the question: How’s the beer?
It’s good. Really, really damn good.
Being the hophead I am, I immediately took to Sacred Heart. It was full and flavorful with big flavors of mango, pineapple and tropical fruits. There’s a nice lingering hoppiness throughout and is almost akin to a West Coast-style IPA. Coast‘s HopArt and Westbrook‘s IPA are both American IPAs touted for their quality and flavor. Get ready to throw Sacred Heart into those ranks as well. I’m going to drink gallons of this beer once I get my hands on some more. And while I’m not the biggest fan of blondes – at least the beer variety – Artemis was a great blend of citrus, herbal and floral notes and sweetness. It’s going to be the perfect porch beer come the warmer months.
We’re about five months removed from what was supposed to be the original launch date for the brewery, but as I said before, the wait has probably worked well to get the word out. Based on the lines, the sales, the excitement and – most importantly – the great beer, it’s clear it was more than worth the wait.
An official brewery opening is TBA, but in the meantime, Artemis and Sacred Heart will both be on the growler station at Green’s Piney Grove starting this Friday (tomorrow). A growler fill gets you a free glass and the knowledge you’re helping a great brewery get on its feet.
Stay tuned for info about what the Conquest crew has in store for an official launch party.
Quick addendum: As if getting Conquest up and running wasn’t crazy enough, brewery co-founder Joseph Ackerman became a father last Friday evening, the day before the launch. His wife, Jessica, gave birth to the couple’s first daughter, Gwendolyn, that evening. Dad, mom and baby are doing well, and my sincere congratulations and well-wishes go out to all three of them.