Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tales from the (South Carolina) Road

At the Grapevine in Baxter, South Carolina, 2008.01.29Last evening I was in Fort Mill, South Carolina, at the new Grapevine Wine Bar (and beer).

I tapped a cask of Clipper City Brewing's Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale paired with a keg of the same beer.

[Pictured are l-r: David of Grapevine, Mike of Carolina Craft Distributing, Melanie of Grapevine, Jeff of Carolina Craft Distributing, me.]

A taste is worth a thousand words ... and anyone who knows me, knows I have no compunction with the latter!

The draft was delicious, but the cask showed that ineffable quality of freshness. Many wine people —and beer people— were fascinated by this.

It was quite the evening, with several local dignitaries in attendance for the shop's grand opening official ribbon-cutting. Thank you to my gracious hosts who made me feel quite at home.

A charming couple, owners of a newly opened chocolate shop were there; we discussed a return visit for a Clipper City beer and chocolate tasting. More as details are arranged.

Before moving to the US, the husband and wife had been landlords for a Brakspear pub in the UK. (They were astonished that a Yank knew about this brewery— now closed and brewed by Refresh UK — and had tasted the beer.)

A firkin cask contains 10.8 US gallons (9UK gallons) and weighs in excess of 100 pounds. A '36' is a cask of 4 times that volume -- 43.2 US gallons (36 UK gallons or 1 UK barrel)-- and weighs nearly 400 pounds.

Brakspear would only send him 36s. He would have to maneuver these casks in a cellar which had maybe a 5 foot high ceiling. As he said, Englishmen must have been much shorter in the early 1600s, when the pub first was built.

He is quite happy— as is, I'm certain, his lower back — to now be in the chocolate business.

Here's a link to my itinerary: please stop by at the Flying Saucer in Columbia tonight (Wednesday, 30 January), or Barley's in Greenville tomorrow (Thursday, 31 January) and introduce yourself.

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