Showing posts with label southend brewery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label southend brewery. Show all posts

Monday, February 14, 2011

In Praise of Brewpubs

We are inordinately fortunate in this part of the world, as I have mentioned before, to have a wealth of brewing companies within an hours drive. Whether we are talking about the likes of Starr Hill, whose beers are available throughout the south east of the US, with the exception of Georgia, or one of the local brewpubs, we have loads of beer options here. It is great being able to go into our nearby shops and pick up six packs of locally made beer. Having said that, I have to admit that I prefer to combine my two favourite things, pubs and beer, by going to one of the brewpubs.


If you follow Fuggled with even the vaguest sense of regularity you will know that my favourite brewpub in the Charlottesville area is Devils Backbone, out in Roseland. I love the beer, the food, the atmosphere, the drive back in the depths of night can be a bit hairy at times though. Mrs Velkyal and I also enjoy popping over to Blue Mountain from time to time, again for good beer and a nice relaxing vibe. Whenever we venture away from home, we look instinctively for brewpubs to drop in to, and so we have enjoyed Blue Ridge Brewing in Greenville, Hunter Gatherer in Columbia, Southend Brewery in Charleston (yes we go to South Carolina a lot). All this got me thinking about reasons for preferring a brewpub to pretty much any other drinking experience, and I came up with a couple of reasons.


Firstly, most brewpubs are good pubs in general. If you go to South Street Brewery in the centre of Charlottesville, the building itself is beautiful, and it feels very much like a proper pub. Dark, almost brooding, plenty of bare brick and dark wood, it is very much my kind of ambience. Devils Backbone by contrast is mainly stone, wood and corrugated iron (it might be tin, so don't quote me), the high ceilings add a sense of space and light which doesn't translate to bright and gaudy. Blue Mountain kind of feels like my living room, with a very nice patio outside. Different places with different atmospheres but all identifiably pubs. They are places for enjoying beer, first and foremost.


Now this might be slightly controversial, or entirely obvious, but brewpubs succeed or fail on the basis of their beer, and that means they need to be on top of their game constantly. By this I mean that they have no place to hide when it comes to criticism. They brew their own beer, condition their own beer, serve their own beer. If there is a problem with a beer then they can't blame the distributor for not looking after it properly, or the pub for not serving it properly, the buck stops with them. Why then is this a reason for me to prefer the brewpub experience? Simply because if I am enjoying a pint of excellent beer, then I am confident that if I switch drinks, they will likewise well made and cared for, at the same time if the pint is not up to scratch and then neither is another, then it suggests a systemic problem with the brewing setup. As such, it allows me to make an informed decision as to whether or not I want to continue pouring money into their cash register.


A major benefit of the brewpub though is having had a flight of samples, you can then order a pint of the one you liked best and get tucking in to a good session - which is, after all the prime purpose of beer, if beer needs to have a purpose.

The best brewpubs combine the best of the beer world, good beer in a convivial environment.

Now, just in case you are thoroughly confused with me writing a positive post rather than ranting, here's something to restore your sense of normality. Yesterday I was in Barnes and Noble when I picked up the book The Beer Trials, turning to the page about Pilsner Urquell, I was dumbstruck by the ignorance and all round bullshit of the description of the beer. For starters "Pilsner Urquell" is GERMAN for Pilsner from the Original Source, not Czech. Yes they really said that. Twice. Ignorant tits. Secondly opening a bottle of pasteurised Pilsner Urquell thousands of miles from the Czech Republic is hardly the best way to enjoy a famously delicate beer, especially when the glass is green, and so the "traditional lightstruck/noble hop" aroma is not normal. Try drinking Pilsner Urquell from a tankove system, in the Czech Republic before waffling bollocks. Here endeth the lesson.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

6 Beers, 18 Phrases - Southend Brewery and Smokehouse

On Tuesday Mrs Velkyal and I went to Charleston, down on the coast of South Carolina - ostensibly to go and see Charleston Battery get massacred by the Houston Dynamo in the Lamar Hunt Cup, the American equivalent of the FA Cup.

As we hadn't really celebrated our first wedding anniversary on Saturday, overshadowed by some local bash as it was, we decided to have a special lunch and visited the Southend Brewery and Smokehouse, a lovely place for lunch and a sampler tray (I have a feeling they will be a big part of life here for a while), here are my thoughts.

  • Southend Blonde - pale yellow, faint citrus, thirst quencher
  • Southend Blonde Light - pale, crisp, weak
  • Seasonal Ginger Ale - amber, grapefruit (amarillo?), refreshingly tart
  • Bombay Pale Ale - light copper, citrus aplenty, hoppy marmelade
  • East Bay Brown - crimson, caramel, smooth
  • Southend Oatmeal Stout - dark drown, coffee and smoke, lusciously smooth

Overall I left the Southend Brewery with very positive feelings, afterall I had some excellent beers, the service was perfect - I can't remember the girl's name but she was everything a waitress should be, and she was on the nail in recommending the Bombay Pale Ale. Only the two blonde ales did absolutely nothing for me, perhaps blondes aren't my thing (don't tell the wife!!). The Oatmeal Stout was up there with the Sam Smith's I luxuriated in last year, high praise indeed, and this is certainly a pub I will be visiting again when I get to Charleston again, although next time I hope the real Charleston Battery turn up!

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...

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