The folks from COAST Brewing Co. and Charleston Beer Exchange put some serious time, effort, and investment into organizing the Charleston Brewvival — a full-sized beer festival will likely become an annual event in Noisette, across the road from COAST's brewery. Well over 1,000 curious beer lovers showed up on Saturday afternoon (Feb. 27) to sample over 80 varieties of rare and unusual ales and lagers, sample local food, and dig local music.
COAST Brewing Co.'s David Merritt and Jaime Tenny made the rounds all afternoon, checking on the volunteers behind the booths in the facility and overseeing the Bio Bus transports throughout the day. Beer Exchange partners Rich Carley and Scott Shor and staffer Brandon Plyler stayed busy handling the front gate and activities around the big tent.
Attendees of various ages casually toured the horseshoe set-up of booths, sipping from five-ounce Brewvival vessels, behaving like civilized enthusiasts. Only one drunko got his ass tossed out for misbehaving; the vast majority of patrons kept things cool, mellow, and friendly. More than few foodies and restaurant chefs showed up to try out the weirdest beers they could find.
Out of the 85 beers available, the wooden cask-aged and traditional sour specialties seem to cause the most animated reactions. Among the wood-aged samples, Highland's Black Mountain Bitter ale, Terrapin's Dugout Oak-Aged Wake 'n' Bake stout, and Stone's Bourbon Barrel Russian Imperial Stout, topped my list of favorites (COAST's barrel-aged Blackbeerd Imperial Stout was already gone by early afternoon). On the sourpuss end of things, New Belgium's super-tart NBB Love (one of several Flanders Red styles there) and the dark, fruity, puckery Duck-Rabbit Cherry Madness nearly knocked me over. The grassy hop flavor of Thomas Creek's high-grav Up the Creek IPA (dry-hopped en route from the keg to the glass) clobbered, too. Ommegang's Rouge red ale (of the few imports in the fest) earned high praise all-around as well.