Tag Archives: Craft Beer

River Dog Brewing Company

A few weeks ago, I heard that the always stellar Homegrown Brewhouse would be hosting a tap takeover at their establishment by a South Carolinian brewery, River Dog Brewing Co. Now I enjoy a tasty brew and a friendly pup as much as the next guy, yet I had never heard of this brewery despite the fact that they were advertising bringing along 15 different beers to the tap take over! Hoping to remedy this oversight as quickly as possible, I took to the interwebs in order to ascertain where exactly in the state this brewery is located. Well, it turns out that it is significantly south of the Charleston area (more specifically in Ridgeland, SC). One may even say that the brewery is “practically in Georgia”…

Hmmm Savannah appears to be closer to the brewery than does Charleston...
Hmmm Savannah appears to be closer to the brewery than does Charleston…

After reading a bit about the brewery and being very intrigued by the large number of brews they were reportedly bringing to the tap takeover, I rationally decided that I had to check them out! Unfortunately, the tap takeover timing at Homegrown Brewhouse wasn’t going to jive with my schedule (incidentally, the first tap takeover had to be postponed due to the crippling Icepocalypse). Thus I resorted to the next most logical step–planning a road trip down to the brewery!

Maintaining some level of rational thought, however, I realized that a nearly two-hour (one way) drive down to a brewery was teetering on the brink of low-level insanity (yes, only low-level). However, upon further inspection of Google Maps, I found that a wildlife management area that I have been wanting to check out, Donnelley WMA, is conveniently located on the way to River Dog (stay tuned (or not) for a future blog entry about that spot). Perfect! I sold the idea of a Saturday road trip to the always skeptical Alicia and to a regal friend, Queen Amber, who was planning on making a pilgrimage from her kingdom down to the Lowcountry that weekend, and off we went!

After making a stop to explore the aforementioned Donnelley Wildlife Management Area, we ultimately arrived at our craft beer destination. If you have made pilgrimages to breweries in the past few years as I have, you are most likely familiar with the trend of breweries setting up shop in industrial parks (which seem to offer varying levels of shadiness). Now that’s not to say that one cannot have a perfectly epic brewery situated in an industrial park–heck, some of the best breweries I’ve visited have been “industrialized” so to speak! Nonetheless, it was nice to find that River Dog Brewing was actually in a seemingly nice and clean “business park” called RiverWalk Business Park.

The skies were blue and we were ready to have a drink!
The skies were blue and we were ready to have a drink!

The inside of the River Dog space was simple and unassuming. Bar to your right and relatively spacious tasting room to your left with numerous high tops and tables spread throughout along with merchandise to purchase on the far left wall. We did not indulge in a tour (as I believe we all have a touch of ADHD and I’m not even sure if they were offering tours at the time), so I cannot speak to the set up of the brewery itself.

Within a few moments of walking through the door, a very kind bartender came out to us in the taproom space to inform us of their flight and pint prices. After we all ordered flights, he kindly told us to find some seats and he’d bring them out to us. Score!

Now the flights were quite a deal. For a whopping total of $8, you got 4oz pours of all six of the beers they had on draft (that’s 24oz or two 12oz standard bottle/cans of craft beer goodness for a very low price!). Did I also mention that the flight carrier was made of beautiful stained wood? Oh yes, it was indeed.

Another obligatory flight shot...

Another obligatory flight shot…

 The six beers on draft for the day and thus those included in our flights were as follows:

  1. IPA
  2. Chocolate Rye Porter
  3. Toffee Holiday Ale
  4. American Red
  5. Lowcountry Lager
  6. American Wheat

As I’m typically an IPA guy, it’s no surprise that I enjoyed the IPA here. It was hoppy though not overly so, easy drinking, and with a pleasant citrus undertone. Somewhat surprisingly, I very much enjoyed the American Red. In fact, that was probably my favorite brew here! Simply put, it was quite smooth and tasty. On the other end of the spectrum, I really did not enjoy the chocolate rye porter. I am definitely not a darker beer fan, though I’ve been trying to branch out a bit. Regardless, the porter here tasted a bit like cigarette butts. Yikes. How do you know what cigarette butts taste like, you may ask. Well, truth be told I don’t, though this is what I imagine they’d taste like. Again, my disclaimer is that I typically do not enjoy porters so you can draw your own conclusions there (though it should be said that my two compatriots for the brewery adventure also had the cigarette butt thought; I cannot speak to whether or not they have more refined palates than mine and perhaps have actually ingested cigarette butts in the past). Despite my general aversion to darker brews, however, I did enjoy the toffee ale. Similarly, the lager and wheat beers were also quite solid.

That's what we're all here for...
That’s what we’re all here for…
Great brews!
Great brews!

All in all, a great time was had at River Dog Brewing Company. Excellent beers, friendly staff and clientele, a wandering pup in the tasting room, and a great overall set up–what else could you ask for? Well, it’d be nice if the brewery were located a bit more up North…

Good to the last drop...
Good to the last drop…

And Gravity Has Taken Better Men Than Me…

Smuttynose’s Graviation is one of the brews in their “Big Beer” series which are touted as “Big Beers in Big Bottles”. As per the Smuttynose website, these beers are produced in small quantities and sporadically, and furthermore they don’t brew every style each year. Thus, the beers are “maddeningly hard to find” . Damn you, Smuttynose!

But seriously, let’s please refrain on the damnation of Smuttynose as that is one spot that is definitely on my brewery bucket list.

A big beer indeed!
A big beer indeed!

So what did I think of Gravitation? Well first off, this is definitely an in your face type of brew. This quality can be at least partially accounted for by the fact that it rings in at a respectable ABV of 11.3% (for the 2013 version), but furthermore its significant raisin character gives it a greater “fruity” presence than would be expected. The bottom line is that this brew has a nose on it and is not a “ho-hum” type of beer. You’re not likely to forget this brew, that’s for sure!

All in all, this doesn’t strike me as your traditional Belgian Quad (though what do I know?). It poured a much deeper amber red than I would have expected, and was much fruitier than I had anticipated. You definitely taste the alcohol content in this one, so there’s no chance of acting surprised when you’re trashed following the consumption of just one of these bad boys.

This particular brew wasn’t my cup of tea, though I tend to love the Smuttynose line in general. Perhaps with time the fruitiness of the beer would mellow out? I’ll never know as I needed to drink mine in the interest of good blogging.


Festive Times Call For Festive Brews

I’m a little late in posting this, but given the Christmas season, I decided to indulge in the 2013 incarnation of Sweetwater’s Festive Ale.

South Carolina Winters Are Rough
South Carolina Winters Are Rough

In my heart of hearts, I’m an IPA guy who dabbles in some hoppy lagers and maybe the occasional Belgian. However, I’ve been trying to expand (read: develop or establish) my beer “palate” and thus have been attempting to broaden my horizons a bit as of late. Also, I’m striving to get more badges on Untappd (terrible, I know).

Back to the task at hand–Sweetwater Festive Ale is a yearly winter seasonal released by the Hotlanta mega craft brewer and is classified as a “winter warmer”. When living in Jersey or even in Durham, NC, there were definitely times when any type of warmer would have been welcome when the temps started to dip. However, here in Charleston, SC, a “cold” day is seemingly when the thermometer drops below 50F. I know the locals view such days as cold because that’s when the puffy winter jackets, ear warmers, and UGGs come out of hibernation. I guess you really do adapt to your environment. Even though I may not be in need of any warmer per se, one is always in need of good brews…

I am happy to report that Sweetwater’s Festive Ale definitely does fall into the “good brew” category and did also pack some warming powers even on a rather temperate SC evening.

The brew poured a very deep and dark Coca-Cola like brown color. There was little head and what head was present was thinner than I would have expected. A medium level of carbonation helped make the brew quite drinkable. Nutmeg and cinnamon dominated the initial aroma and taste on the tongue, with cola and ginger lingering later.  Overall, there was definitely a significant spice character but this seemed to be balanced quite well by the overall maltiness. However, the spices did make their presence known to bring forth thoughts of snow angels, presents, and Santa sliding down the chimney.

Given its pretty hefty 8.60%ABV, this brew hid the alcohol taste well and was very drinkable.

The final verdict is that Sweetwater’s Festive Ale was an enjoyable and surprisingly complex brew that seems very well suited for the holiday season!



Let’s Get Industrious

Diamond Knot Brewery is apparently in Mukilteo, Washington. Why does that matter? Well, simply because Mukilteo is an awesome name and because the numerous great craft breweries is just one of a growing number of reasons (phenomenal trail running being top on the list) why I feel I need to get out to the Pacific Northwest. But I digress…

Industrial IPA in its Natural Habitat?
Industrial IPA in its Natural Habitat?

In any case, I picked up a bomber of Diamond Knot’s Industrial IPA at the local Total Wine & More the other day and got a chance to crack it open tonight! What drew me to grabbing this particular bottle, you may ask. Well, the short answer is that it was $4.99 for this bomber at 7.9% ABV (hey, I’m a baller on a budget!). In all seriousness though (though those prior reasons are indeed fact as well), I’m a big IPA fan and haven’t seen or had this particular one before.

All in all, this was a solid brew. It wasn’t as hoppy as I tend to like my IPAs, but smooth and tasty nonetheless. It poured a light amber/orange color with a medium head and decent lacing. Not extremely carbonated and with overtones of a citrus/fruity taste. I typically don’t like my IPAs on the floral or fruity side, but I enjoyed this particular DIPA as there was also a nice balance of earthy tones.

Easy and enjoyable drinking, I would definitely go back to this brew in the future!

Pete, on the other hand, was less than impressed as he lounged on the couch and rooted against the Atlanta Falcons.