I was able to sneak away for a couple of hours last Saturday – leaving mom and baby at home to indulge in my favorite pre-diapers/bottles/pacifiers obsession with craft beer and home brewing. I joined a crowd of home brewers at the Crafty Rooster in Conway to drink some beers, eat some great food and hear some wonderful news – we are finally getting a local homebrew store here at the beach.
In between sipping on Andy Jones’ tart cranberry cider, Steven Riddei’s decadent peppermint porter and Phil Finley’s spot-on Maisel Weisse clone, we were witness to the announcement of the new business venture from longtime MASH members and husband and wife, Thomas Lucas and Melissa Lucas. They announced to the club that they are scouting locations and getting their ducks in a row to open a homebrew/wine/mead-making store in downtown Conway. The Lucases say that they are going to be focusing on not only supplying the area with home brewing ingredients and equipment, but also will be providing demonstrations and classes for those looking to get into the hobby.
“We wanted to open a place that was not only a store in which you can buy all of the ingredients and equipment for home brewing and winemaking, but also a place to teach and learn about the craft, and a place for home brewers to hang out, share ideas, and most importantly, taste each other’s finished product,” said Melissa Lucas.
The Lucas’ plan on starting out small and growing the store through retail sales and possibly a Kickstarter campaign. They plan on stocking the store with a wide variety of grains, malt extract, hops, yeast and some essential equipment, as well as some starter kits for those looking to get involved with the hobby. They are also planning on stocking winemaking, soda, coffee, tea and mead-making supplies.
Since the demise of Beach Home Brew at The Galleria Shopping Center on North Kings Highway, local home brewers either had to order all their supplies and equipment online and have it shipped or drive to Wilmington, N.C. or Columbia. Once the Conway store, named The Home brewer’s Pantry opens, home brewers will not only have a convenient place to pick up that one, vital missing ingredient on brew day, but they will also have a home base to connect with other brewers and seek advice from experienced home brewers.
“When you come into our local homebrew store instead of ordering from an online provider, you will get one-on-one customer service, the equipment you need, consultation on your recipe or all the ingredients to make that perfect brew,” said Thomas Lucas.
The Lucases are planning on opening The Home brewer’s Pantry in April. To coincide with the opening of the store, the couple is announcing a homebrew competition. They are considering a SMaSH (single malt, single hop) competition to keep the playing field level and see who has their technique dialed-in enough to make a simple beer delicious and distinctive. The winner will have his/her recipe made into a kit that can be purchased at the store.
To follow the progress of The Home brewer’s Pantry, check the duo out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hbpantry or go to the Web site www.homebrewerspantry.com.
We were able to make a quick stop by New South Brewing for its awesome Friday night happy hour and try this year’s batch of Lily the Great. The new batch is a couple points lower in final ABV (Alcohol By Volume) and sports an even hoppier taste. Luckily, there will be even more Lily to enjoy, as a larger batch was brewed this year. Lily the Great isn’t the only new thing that New South is showing off. The tasting room has been outfitted with new taps, finally allowing the brews to flow behind the bar. The faucets are mounted on the wall in a cut portion of a keg and feature four tap handles. It’s a sharp new addition and an awesome way to serve New South brews from the bar area instead of running back and forth to the taps on the side of the walk-in cooler. It was great seeing the crowd packed into the tasting room – and after a month of staying close to home, it felt good to get out of the house and enjoy some local beer.
Quest for new beer
Another South Carolina brewery is getting ready to launch distribution here at the beach. Quest Brewing of Greenville announced this week that it is expecting to be distributed statewide by the end of February. Currently all of Quest’s offerings are draft-only, so we should start seeing the brewery’s kegs pop up at local beer bars and growler stations. I am definitely excited to be able to pick up my first locally-bought growler of Quest’s amazing Kaldi Imperial Coffee Stout. I expect to see the rest of the “Legendary Series” beers, as well – the Ellida IPA, Golden Fleece Belgian Pale Ale and the Smoking Mirror Porter.
Hops to it
There are a few upcoming craft beer events in the works. A new event has been announced at the Mellow Mushroom, a Sweetwater Beer Dinner that will be held on Feb. 4.
The Southeast’s premiere beer festival, Brewvival, still has tickets for sale through the Web site: www.brewvival.com. This is an amazing event in North Charleston, so if you are planning on going, get your tickets now – they will sell out before the day of the event – Feb. 22.
Also, tickets are on sale for our own local beer festival, the Myrtle Beach Beer Festival – March 29 at the House of Blues. Check out www.myrtlebeachbeerfest.com for tickets and details.
Contact John Garner at MBCraftBeer@gmail.com and follow him at www.facebook.com/TheNewBeerman.