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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Going south - Our Brewvival weekend.

We lived the brand this weekend. 
By the time it was all over we drove 4 times longer than we drank.

On the last weekend of February, Jolly Good Fellows attended the 3rd annual Brewvival hosted by Coast Brewing Company and the Charleston Beer Exchange. It was our first time at this festival in South Carolina and we had been looking forward to it for the last few weeks. 

In that glass is a delicious
bacon porter
The Jolly Good Fellows team for this outing was Brett, my brother Cody and his girlfriend Amanda, I and Dan (the other voice of the JGF Beercast.) We departed from Fayetteville, NC around 10 AM and after a relatively uneventful road trip arrived at North Charleston around 1 PM. Parking was a breeze with plenty of spots available. As we approached the festival we were greeted with a line stretching out from entry gate, around the corner and across the bridge. While it was long, it moved quickly, which would be a reoccurring theme throughout the day.

Having forgotten the printed tickets at my house in Virginia I had to find a workaround. I downloaded the EventBrite app to my iPhone which provided me with digital tickets that could be easily scanned. Even this proved to be unnecessary as the friendly event staff at the gates were able to check us in on a digital roster. This was a very nice touch. As we passed through security our IDs and bags were checked and we were handed our four ounce tasting glass and a roster of attending breweries and their beers.

Under those tents was liquid excellence
While crowded, the event was not over packed. A lot of folks followed the recommendation of the hosts and brought their own lawn chairs. We set up a little area near the back of the beer tents against the chain-linked fence. At that point we turned to the reason we had came: to taste and try many great and different ales and beers.

Two large beer tents sat parallel to each other in the center of the field. Underneath the canopies were the 30 plus breweries with their finely crafted brews ready and willing to provide. The lines moved pretty quickly but it was evident which stands had the in demand ales. Not dissuaded I jumped around the lesser populated stands with ease opting trying out new and original beers. It was like being a kid in a candy store.

One of the breweries
I unfortunately missed.
When I attend beer festivals I like to try beers that I have never had before. Here I was overwhelmed by the diversity and I didn’t plan my taste attack as well as I should have. That said, I truly enjoyed the beers I tried. The highlights for me were the Westbrook Mexican Coffee Cake and Saint Somewhere’s Fierte du Sud. The Mexican Coffee Cake in particular struck me as the ideal for beer as dessert. The casked Fierte du Sud was flat out one of the best sours I have had in awhile. I also enjoyed Palmetto’s Espresso Porter on Nitro and I had my first ever oyster stout. 

The Duck-Rabbit brought a
solid lineup
The real drawing attraction for Brewvival is the rarities and specials that the attending brewers bring with them and the focus on emerging southern brewers. There were beers I tried that I may never have an opportunity to try again. I applaud the brewers for bringing these exotics and letting people enjoy them.

The Coleman Public House crew worked
nonstop serving up burgers
On the food side of things the lines moved a bit slower. The highlight appeared to by Diggity Doughnuts, which had a line stretching back across the field. I opted for a Notch’s green chili burger from the Coleman Public House stand which hit the spot for me. There was also D’Allesandro’s Pizza, Roti Rolls, and Ted’s Butcherblock to choose from.

I didn’t pay much attention to the band’s that played, the music wrapping itself into the ambiance of the festival. At the far end of the festival any live tunes were drowned out by crowd noise.

Rob Tod, founder of
Allagash Brewing Company
talks to folks about beer.
That said, at the far edge away from the tents was another small tent and benches. Here is where several master brewers were giving presentations and talks. As one attendee said, “The beer is great, but here is much more interesting.” 

 Compared to the festivals I have attended in NOVA this was a pleasant and fun experience, yes there were a lot of people and it got a bit crowded at times, but the lines moved fast and the everybody was in good humor and polite. A few areas for improvement would be a slightly larger space next year or rearranging the tents for better traffic flow. In particular the center aisle was very crowded. Another recommendation would be a bit more beer. Many stands were reaching exhaustion by the time we hit 4 PM and the event was to run to 6 PM.

Coast Brewing puts on a great show!
Brewvival wouldn't
have happened
without these guys 
All in all, Brewvival was a lot of fun and kudos to Coast Brewing and the Charleston Beer Exchange for planning and hosting a great event. The JGF team was glad it made the trip and we look forward to coming back next year and trying even more delicious and exotic beers. 

If you want to see all the picture from Brewvival, check out the Jolly Good Fellows Facebook page


  1. How come I haven't received a shirt yet...

  2. Man I really hate that I missed that event, especially since it was my own stomping grounds. Maybe next year I can head down there.