Right now, a few hundred beer geeks with plans to be in North Charleston this weekend are plotting. They want to make sure they get the first sips of some of the best brews to be poured in town this year. They want to get them before you. That’s right, it’s time for Brewvival.
This year’s sixth annual Brewvival pops up at the friendly confines of COAST Brewing on Saturday, bringing 180+ world-class beers and more than 1,600 dyed-in-the-oak hop-heads to the North Charleston Navy Yard. If you were one of the lucky few to nab a ticket before it sold out, it’s time to prepare yourself for what’s on tap.
Every Brewvival has a few guarantees: Great beer everywhere you turn, plenty of it, and the chance to taste some hard-to-find, off-the-wall concoctions.
"We’re pulling out all the stops," says Ryan Coker, the head brewer at Revelry Brewing, one of Charleston’s newest brew houses. Among the beers that Revelry is bringing to their Brewvival debut is a wild ale they’re calling Prologue. Fermented for eight months in both stainless steel tanks and oak barrels with South Carolina peaches, the 'mixed fermentation' process and the time spent aging gives the beer a unique combination of flavors. "There’s no mistaking the peach," says Coker.
Revelry also joined with James Beard semifinalist Edmund’s Oast for Adventures in Shandyland. A blonde ale inspired by Cannonborough Beverage Company’s grapefruit elderflower soda, Shandyland isn’t a true shandy — a soda and beer mixture — but after being fermented with 80 pounds of grapefruit and finished with elderflower, it might fool some.
"I expect to see some lips puckering around Revelry’s table," says CHS Beer co-founder and City Paper contributor Timmons Pettigrew.
Charleston brewers COAST and Holy City also partnered for a special Brewvival creation that they’re calling, Holy Coast. A bit of an enigma of a beer, COAST says they’ve settled on calling it a "roasted rye dark ale" that retains the body of a stout. Of course, the team at COAST know their stouts, so be on the lookout for a 2010 barrel-aged Blackbeerd Imperial Stout confirmed for this weekend as well as a special cask of 2015 Blackbeerd, flavored with organic baker's chocolate and Trinidad scorpion peppers.
Brewvival may be your only chance to sample some small-batch and hard-to-find beers as well, like the Blackbeerd cask and Founders’ Canadian Breakfast Stout, so be sure to prioritize.
"If there are some must have beers on your list, get them as fast as you can," says Pettigrew.
One thing that isn’t guaranteed, as any Brewvival veteran will tell you, is the weather. Brewvival 2013 will be forever remembered as the one with the mud. Other years have narrowly escaped ice-cold rain, while others have enjoyed a clear-blue sky.
"I don’t care if the sun is shining, don’t be afraid to wear your galoshes," says Drew Riddle of COAST, one of the event’s organizers.
Of course, Brewvival survival is all about moderation.
"If you’re there for five hours, pace yourself," says Pettigrew. Think water bottles, snacks between samples, more water, take a break. You get the idea. And if you do want a ride, Mixson is offering shuttles running to and from Basico to the Brewvival. It’s free for Mixson members as well as free for those stopping by for brunch beforehand. And a few official Brewvival downtown shuttle passes are still available for $5 too.
For a full list of beers to be tapped at Brewvival 2015, visit Brewvival.com.