Since we had planned to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with Carolyn's family, in light of the unfortunate events we decided to get an early start and head down to Fayetteville, NC, about two-thirds of the way between Annville, PA and Charleston, SC. Brewslut performed the bulk of the driving duties, with me taking over only an hour or so outside of Fayetteville. We secured a hotel from trusty Priceline.com (we LIVE by this site when traveling, folks! "Name-your-own-Price" is the proverbial shit)! Once we arrived at the hotel, we imbibed in our first beer of the trip - Bud Light Lime-A-Rita!
|I can't help myself... I like big cans!|
It had become our tradition on these annual trips to share a "shitty" beer, if only for the sole purpose of our own enjoyment. (See our previous blog about last year's trip to Quebec to familiarize yourself with this tradition and for a list of past beers.) This year, Brewslut and I raised a hotel glass of Bud Light Lime-A-Rita in honor of our absent traveling cohorts. Unfortunately, we had to share this giant can with only each other instead of the four of us. But you know what? It actually wasn't that bad. It tasted more like a margarita than an actual beer. In that respect, this beer was FAR superior to the Bud Light Chelada beer we imbibed a few years prior. So this year, we kicked off the trip with class!
|Pleeps gettin' in on some Lime-A-Rita action!|
Our Holiday Inn boasted a free hot breakfast buffet, so we took them up on the offer and filled up before our commute into Charleston. After the three-and-a-half drive from Fayetteville to Charleston, our first order of business was to find somewhere to get a beer! Much to my chagrin, we were greeted by downtown Charleston with a wall of traffic spanning about two miles. Our destination was South End Brewery and Smokehouse, located in the heart of downtown Charleston. Brewslut started with an odd choice for her - Love Me Two Times Blonde. Perhaps her affection for The Doors influenced her decision. She followed up with more familiar territory with a pint of Pict's Stout, a dry Irish Stout with a low ABV. As for myself, I imbibed in a pretty solid seasonal, aptly named Winter Wheat, and followed it up with the less than stellar Pinckney Pale Ale. South End was a nice enough place, but it was your typical brewpub that caters more to tourists and casual beer drinkers. While the Winter Wheat was above average, their tap selection ran the gamut of your typical pedestrian styles: a red, blonde, dry stout, wheat, pale, etc. We did share a plate of nachos, which were quite tasty, though.
|Dig the Doors font on the "Love Me Two Times" tap handle!|
|Inside South End Brewery & Smoke House|
|Inside the eclectic Closed For Business.|
After our cool treat, we were off to Closed for Business, one of the places I was most excited about visiting. Coincidentally, this eclectic beer establishment was featured in the then-current issue of Beer Advocate magazine, which bolstered my excitement for this trip. During our visit, I had my first taste of Westbrook Brewery's fantastic Citra Rye Pale Ale. I must admit that I hadn't heard of Westbrook prior to the trip until Deuane mentioned some of their beers to me merely days before we departed to Charleston. Good thing he did, because pretty much everything I sampled from Westbrook was solid to superb. But more on Westbrook later. Brewslut opted for the special $4 pint, which happened to be Thunderstruk Chocolate Porter from nearby Asheville, NC's Highland Brewing Company. We had visited Asheville with Deuane and Carolyn three years prior (pre-blog, unfortunately), but unfortunately we never made it to Highland's brewery. With such a great, diverse tap selection, I typically never order the same beer twice in a row. One that comes to mind was Shut the Hell up, a 3% ABV Simcoe hop bomb that I thoroughly enjoyed during our visit to The Alchemist back in the summer of 2011. Well, I was really feeling the Citra Rye Pale Ale on this particular day, and decided to order another one!
After enjoying our first of two visits to Closed For Business (more on the second visit later), we were off to Holy City Brewing Company, a place I'd not been familiar with prior to Deuane's recommendation. We arrived to find the brewery was situated in an industrial park similar to many of the smaller breweries in San Diego. The brewery itself had a very warehouse-esque atmosphere, and the brewery opened right up into the tasting room, where you could purchase sampler flights as well as take-out bombers. We each got a sampler flight which included four beers: Pecan Dream, Pluff Mud Porter, Pilsner, and Oyster Stout. My favorite of the lot was easily the Pecan Dream, although all of the beers were solid. Brewslut quite liked the Oyster Stout. In addition to the fine beer, there was also a cool little trio with acoustic guitar, bass and drums performing right inside the tasting room. We met some folks wearing Pittsburgh Steelers and Yuengling attire who were coincidentally NOT from Pennsylvania. Go figure! Holy City is also dog-friendly, and it was cool to see a few dogs running around and having fun too.
|Holy City's brewery opens right into its tasting room. Note the wet floor!|
|Pleeps needs a nap!|
We capped off the day by watching Blades of Glory starring Will Ferrell and Jon Heder.
After breakfast the following day, we headed off to Coast Brewing Company, the only brewery in Charleston with which I was familiar prior to the trip. I'd enjoyed their phenomenal Blackbeer'd Imperial Stout (as well as the Jack Daniel Barrel-aged version) at a stout tasting hosted by our friend Adam Korsak way back in 2009. Prior to that, I'd only ever tasted Coast's fine HopArt IPA, courtesy of Deuane, which I found to be quite tasty.
|Note the "rules" at the bottom. NOTE: Rules are made to be broken!|
|Barrel-aged Blackbeer'd perchance?|
After hanging out for a while and enjoying some beer chat with the three travelers, the brewer, and server, we perused the merchandise and picked out a cool brewery T-shirt depicting a pirate on the front and the Coast logo on the back. I also shared some Tröegs love and hooked up the brewer with some Troegenator, Flying Mouflan, and Mad Elf. Lucky for me, he reciprocated with a bomber of Rye Knot Brown Ale and a 2009 Jack Daniel barrel-aged Blackbeer'd! Deuane was right... it pays to travel with gifts when you visit breweries!
|Coast Brewing Company: an orderly mess!|
|Lots of eclectic goodies decorate Coast's brewery.|
|DON'T JUDGE US!!!|