Westbrook Brewing

The Chitwood family just got back from a lovely vacay in Folly Beach, South Carolina! While there we drank a lot of good beer (..and rosé..and prosecco..). The SC beer scene had definitely improved since our last trip. The highlight of the week was finally visiting Westbrook Brewing Company, a longtime favorite of the Barley Babes.

Westbrook only packages a handful of their beers, and we were excited to see a draft list filled with brews we’d never tried, or for that matter, heard of. Maddy ordered a flight of small pours for group, and we got a few pints as well. Two standouts from M’s flight were the Key Lime Pie Gose and Coconut Weisse Weisse Baby. The KLPG is loaded with tangy, sour lime and rounds out with a graham cracker finish. Maddy noted graham cracker on the nose too; Westbrook nailed this one!  The table also enjoyed my pint of juicy Nelson Sauvin IPA. It’s the style of IPA I’ve come to expect from NYC breweries like Grimm and Other Half. Finally, we were excited to try the Mexican Cupcake, a session version of Westbrook’s hyped imperial stout brewed with habanero peppers. The cupcake didn’t quite live up to the cake, but it’s nice that you can experience almost the same flavor profile in a lighter, lower ABV beer. Great for summer!

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The small tap room was hopping on Friday evening. Groups of friends gathered for post-work pints and young parents kept a relaxed eye on their kids over flights. Like us, I think everyone was looking for an air conditioned spot to drink beer and escape the oppressive SC heat.
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Our only complaint about the visit is that the Westbrook staff wasn’t very friendly. No one that helped us was overtly rude, but they seem to keep lines short by taking an all-business approach to customer service. I didn’t feel comfortable asking to taste before ordering, and when I ordered a beer that had just run out, the bartender walked away instead of recommending something else. We’re often on the other side of the counter, so we understand the stress that comes with a busy weekend night. I guess we just wanted to experience a deeper personal connection with the staff since we’ve loved Westbrook for so long.
We’ll have more highlights from our trip later this week! Another favorite destination: The Charleston Beer Exchange!
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Brew News

We haven’t given an update on what’s happening in the beer world in quite a while! If you’re feeling out of the loop, never fear! Here it is:

My fellow Chitwoods, you’ll be happy to hear that Charleston made the list of six beer destinations for 2016! Looks like we’ll be hitting some spots other than Westbrook during our vacay this summer.

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Just six months ’til more fun times in Folly!

This Drunk Pasta Carbonara looks incredible, and could easily be made without meat. Make sure you read the article, too. “Cooking with wine is a long respected practice and beer is just starting to enter into the scene in a legitimate way…We won’t stop drinking wine, we don’t need to. There is space at the table for well made beverages of all sorts, we’re just looking to join the party on an equal footing, and we’re getting there.”

It’s Girl Scout Cookie season, and of course there’s a list of beer pairings for each cookie. Oh Internet, I love you so. Caramel de-Lites + Oskar Blues Death By Coconut? Heaven.

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Haley and Andrew’s favorite Cincinnati brewery had an enormously successful 2015. Two-year-old Rhinegeist is expanding throughout the Northeast, starting with their cider line, Cidergeist. Rhinegeist has locked down a distributor in Massachusetts, and they’re in the process of interviewing wholesalers in NY!!

Man Blames Beer-Battered Fish in 10th OWI. The most ridiculous thing about this story is that he still has a license after nine operating-while-intoxicated charges..

Can’t say that I watched the Super Bowl long enough to catch Peyton Manning’s “I’m going to drink a lot of Budweiser” comments. However, he should be ashamed that his team is based in one of the best areas for craft beer in the country, and he still chooses Bud. “Maybe he doesn’t know!” you protest. Well, the Brewer’s Association sent him a delicious package of instructional materials.

Speaking of the Super Bowl…on principle I really tried not to laugh at this ad.

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We have some exciting guest posts coming up next week! My friends Emily and Rich visited Crozet’s brand new Pro Re Nata Farm Brewery last weekend and sent an impressive write up. We’re also excited for my dad to share scenes from his trip to the Bahamian Brewery. Have a great Thursday! Another weekend is almost upon us.

-R

“Craft” Beer – A Reminder

We’re huge fans of South Carolina’s Westbrook Brewing Company. Their gose was one of the first sour beers that Maddy got into. I remember taking a picture of their IPA while vacationing in Folly Beach way back in 2012, just a few months after they started canning. I realized what a HUGE deal they’d become when Brooklyn lost their shit with the annual release of Mexican Cake last May. Mexican Cake, an imperial stout aged on cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, and fresh habanero peppers, has had a cult-like following since its released in January 2012 to celebrate Westbrook’s first anniversary.

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Barrel-Aged Oud Bruin is one of Westbrook’s newest releases. The Oud Bruin (old brown) style originated in the Flemish region of Belgium. Typically these beers undergo multiple fermentations and extended aging, resulting in a lactic sourness. Westbrook aged their Oud Bruin in Bourbon barrels for two years, adding flavors of oak, vanilla, and bourbon to the vinegary, dark fruit sourness.

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I shared this bottle with Kat and Allison on Saturday night and we were blown away, truly. So flavorful! So complex! So decadent. There’s a growing appreciation for craft beer, but I routinely encounter customers who say things like, “Fifteen dollars for one beer? That’s crazy. It’s not like it’s wine.” Think about how much time and effort went into making this beer! Growing and harvesting the ingredients, brewing the beer, multiple fermentations, years of aging. Not to mention that since this particular beer was aged in Bourbon barrels, you have to add the amount of time it takes to produce the bourbon, and for the bourbon to flavor the barrels that will eventually flavor the beer. That is craft! That is an extraordinary level of dedication to providing a once-in-a-lifetime sensory experience! Thank you, Westbrook, for reminding me how much I appreciate and respect the world of craft beer.

Happy Wednesday! Cheers to only 59 more days ’til spring.

-R