For beer enthusiasts, one of the best traditions of the craft beer movement is visiting breweries and sampling their beers in their own tasting rooms. This tradition has spawned the publication of numerous guidebooks describing the breweries and brewpubs in various states and regions. These guides are usually written for areas with a heavy concentrations of breweries and are an invaluable resource for planning vacations and serious beer hunting.
If you needed any evidence that craft brewing in the Carolinas is exploding, here it is in our own guidebook: Beer Lover’s The Carolinas. This book, released in April, is a guidebook for breweries, brewpubs and beer bars in South and North Carolina.
The book is written by Daniel Hartis, a beer blogger and part-time beer writer who is a native and resident of Charlotte. In 314 pages, he describes the 67 breweries in both states along with all of the brewpubs and many beer-centric bars. The cut-off date for brewery entries was apparently several months ago, and thus some of the recently opened breweries such as Brewery 85 in Greenville and River Rat here in Columbia are not featured; however, Hartis did include them in a listing of breweries in planning — a staggering 20 in North Carolina and 8 in South Carolina.
The book’s publisher has produced several similar guides for other regions, which is apparent from its attractive layout that is uncluttered and is easy to read. The descriptions of the establishments are logically arranged, making it useful for planning trips. Each state is divided into regions, and the breweries and brewpubs in those areas are grouped together.
The author is clearly a beer enthusiast, though he does not have a technical background in brewing or homebrewing, thus his approach is light but informative and interesting. He has the ability to pack a lot of good information in a short space. His treatment of the two states is evenhanded without regional bias. Do not expect to find any criticism or critiques in this work — it is not a critical review. The brief history of each brewery and its founders provides some insight into what makes each one tick and adds to the appreciation of their work.
As an extra benefit, Hartis includes homebrew recipes for some of the beers featured in the guide as well as recipes for signature dishes from some of the brewpubs. The recipe for Hunter-Gather’s ESB Pimento Cheese spread is included, and that just might be worth the price of the book on its own.
As I read through this guide, I was struck by the fact that the overwhelming majority of the breweries are less than four years old. This growth in craft brewing in the Carolinas is remarkable and the passion of those who have jumped into this difficult business is evident from the descriptions of their backgrounds. I hope that as the number of breweries increase, each will add new converts to craft beer. This is critical to their survival.
Amazon is the primary outlet for this excellent guide with a discounted price of $14.66. Every beer enthusiast in this area should get this book — then plan weekend trips to the various areas of the Carolinas to enjoy fresh craft beer made by artisans who are passionate about what they do.
Dog Fish Head entered the Columbia market almost one year ago. A glaring omission from the available beers has been its famous 60 Minute IPA. For now, either by accident or design, this beer is available at major retailers. This IPA is 6 percent ABV and hops are continually added for the 60 minutes of the boiling step of the brewing process. The resulting beer is elegant and refined, brimming with tasty hop flavor, juicy malt and ample bitterness — a beautiful beer indeed. Cheers!
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