A sold-out crowd packed into the outfield of Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park during the seventh annual Ballpark Festival of Beers on Sat. Oct. 3. With pourers and vendors set up along the warning track by the outfield fences, hundreds of beer enthusiasts meandered from booth to booth with five-ounce sampling vessels in hand.
Over 100 different lagers and ales — domestic and imported — of various styles flowed from the kegs form 7-10 p.m. Beers ranged from familiar offerings from Anheuser-Busch and Yuengling to exotic specialties from New Belgium, Abita, and Unita. Charleston Beer Exchange had a station in the middle of the outfield (Scott Shor was spotted pouring some Coast ales). Mellow Mushroom and Home Team BBQ were on hand, too.
I sat in on drums with the rock band Spunjwurthi (booked as the Larry David Project Band, featuring singer Larry Strickland and singer/guitarist David Dunning), so I had an interesting point of view of he festival from the third base line. We played two sets of classic bar rock, which took up most of my time, so I barely had a chance to sample more than a few new treats, including a very clean, sweetish Continental lager from Belgium called Bavik and a super-bitter amber ale from Terrapin called Big Hoppy Monster.
Luckily, the band was set up right next to the team from Charleston's own Southend Brewery (the only brewpub in town). Head brewer Ahren Wharf kept us plied with their hoppy, amber-colored Pale Ale and several samples of their new Imperial Brown — a spicy, malty new autumn seasonal ale made with a dash of vanilla and cinnamon. I couldn't have kept a decent beat to "Honky Tonk Woman" and "Magic Carpet Ride" as well without such tasty sustenance.