South Carolina’s Year of Rice Beer



According to my story about the Southeast’s brewing sake scene, which ran in today’s print edition, rice spirits never made much of a splash in the lowcountry. That’s technically true, but food historian and sake connoisseur David Shields points out that rice beer had a very big year in 1893.

As Shields explains, three years before Ben Tillman told voters he’d skewer President Grover Cleveland in the rump with a pitchfork, he persuaded Prohibitionists to support legislation making South Carolina a control state. But the governor’s bill defined alcoholic beverages as drinks with an alcohol content of at least 2.5 percent, which meant the state couldn’t stop the private sale of near-beer.

“The Palmetto Brewing Company of Charleston, a self styled ‘soft drink’ company that had begun manufacturing a rice brew acceptable in prohibitionist southern locales in 1888, began manufacturing oceans of “Rice Beer”—a light beer with an alcohol content under the legal ceiling,” Shields writes. Continue reading

Bay Street Biergarten is Now Open

baystreetTouting its pretzels and convivial atmosphere, Bay Street Biergarten opened today, giving drinkers four days to celebrate one of the year’s beeriest months in Bavarian style.

(Munich’s Oktoberfest wrapped up weeks ago, but football and Halloween help keep stateside beer consumption healthy — so to speak — during October.)

Although the bar at 549 E. Bay Street took menu and decor inspiration from traditional beer halls, Bay Street Biergarten has modernized the concept with on-table, self-service taps. Beers now on rotation include ales from Palmetto, Westbrook and Holy City. Continue reading

Where to Get Your Pumpkin Fix



It’s officially pumpkin season, which means there’s no shortage of opportunities to get your fill of the autumnal flavor:

For the upscale eater: Peninsula Grill‘s Graham Dailey, a recent graduate of the chefs’ media training sponsored by the Convention and Visitors Bureau, has put together a camera-ready fried oyster appetizer, topped with pumpkin jalapeño relish; he’s also serving a beef filet with pumpkin succotash and grilled sea scallops with pumpkin butter. And over at Hank’s Seafood, chef Frank McMahon’s concocted a seared swordfish with pumpkin poached in a Vietnamese-style stock: The dish is finished with dark green pumpkinseed oil. Continue reading

Egan & Sons to Open Next Week

Get your fill of leprechauns now, because you won't find them at Egan & Sons / gruntzooki

Get your fill of leprechauns now, because you won’t find them at Egan & Sons / gruntzooki

The owner of the forthcoming Egan & Sons says the rustic cooking style which chef Kyle Yarborough perfected at the now-defunct La Fourchette is an especially good fit for the forthcoming downtown Irish pub.

“That French country cooking is close to Irish country cooking, with the root vegetables, casseroles and stews,” Chris Egan says.

Egan’s also looking forward to Yarborough using animal parts which don’t fly at his restaurants in New Jersey, where eaters insist on chops and filets.

“In other regions, people are kind of snobby about other cuts of meat,” Egan says. “I love the South because it’s not that way.” Continue reading

Mac-Off Matches Iconic Side Dish With Beer and Liquor

bildeSouthern Season next week is offering a class on pairing wine with mac-n-cheese, which seems almost too easy: Red wine and cheese are ideal partners.

Yet there won’t be any wine on the menu at Mac-Off, the fourth annual attempt to determine the area’s best mac-n-cheese chef. Restaurants including Rue de Jean, Angel Oak, Poogan’s Porch and Southern Season will sling the side dish at the Grove in Patriot’s Point from 2 p.m.-7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12.

So what to drink with the signature dish? Mac-Off’s featuring beer from Sam Adams, Angry Orchard and Bud Light, as well as a bloody Mary bar stocked with Tito’s Vodka, FireFly Moonshine, and Larceny Bourbon. Drinks are included with a VIP ticket, which sells for $50. Continue reading

Greek Fall Festival Adds Beer Garden, Second Wine Tasting Area

greek-festival-gyro-largeThe food options for the first-ever fall edition of the Charleston Greek Festival are slightly abbreviated, but event chair Tony Forsberg promises more beer and wine at the Oct. 4-6 cultural celebration.

“It’s the first time we’re doing a beer garden,” Forsberg says. “And because it’s fall, we’ll have two 60-inch TVs playing football.”

At the spring event, which will celebrate its 44th anniversary next May, the food offerings include chicken and lamb dinners, served with rice, string beans, salad and bread. But since Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox is trying to keep its fall debut manageable, organizers decided to limit the menu to “all the delicious stuff you always get out of the gyro tent,” Forsberg says, plus a few more grilled items. Continue reading

Drink Beer, Win a Bike Next Week

fattirebikeCharleston Moves is looking for local residents to support its mobility mission by sitting still and drinking beer.

For the fourth year, the bike advocacy group is hosting New Belgium Brewing’s Clips Film & Beer Tour, featuring short films projected on an inflatable outdoor screen and up to 18 beers available for sampling. Entry to the Sept. 26 event in Marion Square is free, but beer will be sold through a token system.

“Everyone will tell you that this event is lots of fun,” organizer Pat Sullivan says. Continue reading

Wild Dunes Resort Plans Beer Fest

brewschewsAmericans tend to associate German beer with October, but Wild Dunes Resort’s food and beverage director – a native of Karlsruhe in Baden-Württemberg – says his countrymen don’t wait until fall to hoist their steins.

“I like Oktoberfest, but in summer, every week, there’s a reason to drink a lot,” Thomas McKinney-Stehr says. “One time they call it chicken festival, one time call it fish festival. That’s what I want to bring to Wild Dunes.”

In deference to American expectations, McKinney-Stehr is holding off until October to host his first-ever craft beer festival for tourists and local guests, but the Isle of Palms event otherwise reflects traditional German sensibilities.

“I look at the event as a puzzle,” he says. “Every item has to fit: The beer, the food, the service, the location, the cornhole. Every little thing has to be perfect.” Continue reading

10 Beers Selected for Monday Dinner at Liberty Tap Room

libertymenuDemonstrating that Charleston Restaurant Week doesn’t have the monopoly on discount dining, Liberty Tap Room & Grill’s scheduled a $50 five-course meal with 10 beer pairings for Monday night.

The menu for the Sept. 9 event includes steamed mussels; eggrolls stuffed with pimento cheese grits, pulled pork and turnip greens; monkfish medallions; beef wellington and raspberry panna cotta. The beers were brewed by Stone Brewing Co., a pale ale pioneer that’s now 17th on the list of top-selling breweries nationwide, and Mt. Pleasant’s Westbrook Brewing, featured this week in a News & Observer story about the Charleston craft beer scene.

Westbrook’s highly-regarded Mexican Coffee Cake stout – called “probably the state’s most hyped beer” by the N&O – will be served with dessert. The complete menu’s here.

For reservations, call 971-7777.