Sunday, May 28, 2017

Craft beers and a road trip to Atlanta...

 I know my way around quite a few craft breweries here in Charleston so I "took it on the road" to Georgia's capital.

Did some research and it appears we have at least twice as many Crafters here than there are in Atlanta.

Hmm, would have thought just the opposite.

I earned my wings at Blue Tarp Brewing, in Decatur.

Saw the painting on the wall,  just sauntered over and posed as I sipped.

Then I saw other backdrops and the suggestion that they would appreciate people posting their photos online.

Another very large chalk board tried to give a quick overview of how the state of Georgia always requires a "tour."

Then you buy beer tickets or wooden coins to choose what you want to drink and in what prescribed quantities.

Blue Tarp Brewing Company's Founder & Brewmaster Tom Stahl was interested in my observations of the Craft scene in Charleston as he attempted to explain that a TOUR is the Georgia focal point at all the breweries and that allows him to sell brews in proper portions so visitors could  enjoy some cold suds.

Then Tom excused himself to go lead an actual tour.

I snapped a picture of the blackboard poster so I could refer to the necessary optional steps that are offered.

I certainly wanted to obey the law.

This was our second stop after buying wooden "nickels" and hoisting a few at 3 Taverns Craft Beers.

It had a neat loft upstairs where you could look out over the tasting room and watch the line form, move forward and then the people would go sit back down inside or step out on the patio to sip 6 ounces or whatever choices they had made.

Per the information posted, people were also leaving with 6-packs and two sizes of Growlers, 64 ounces or 32 ozs.

Then, shuffle up to the serving area again and hand over wooden tokens.

It was a jovial crowd and we had a nice conversation with a husband and wife who had come up from Lexington, a suburb of Columbia.

Friday night we were among 6,000 other fans of Chris Rock, performing his comedy at the Fabulous Fox Theater.

Rock had booked the Fox  for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

That's pleasing many thousands of his fans.

We decided to check out a few craft breweries the next day while we were in town.

Tasting in moderation of course, before driving back home.

We used GPS to find our way around from the Hyatt, and stopped for a delightful brunch at one of the Flying Biscuit Cafe near Little 5 Points.

They are scattered around Atlanta and we appreciated that the Saturday traffic was light before the Memorial Day weekend.

On the drive back to Charleston, we noticed that the Starbucks' symbol had been added to Interstate markers showing a variety of food close by at the next exit.

Didn't remember seeing that addition before among all the Waffle House signs.

As we traveled around Atlanta neighborhoods, the GPS lady managed to direct us through a tunnel beneath train tracks - I think - covered with colorful graffiti.

As we moved slowly through, I caught a photo of some young men in the process of adding their visual messages.

This was turning into a multiple-treat capital city tour.

My eyes and camera were filled with images that I wanted to share.

This was to make up for the NO CAMERA evening the night before with Chris Rock.

Here is a scattering of images I collected during this overnight road trip.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for riding along and sipping a few tasty beers.

I have visited just about all 20 breweries here in Charleston, North Charleston, West Ashley, Mt. Pleasant, James and Johns Island, and the only one in

A new one is about to open named Pawleys Island, right here in Charleston and another in Park Circle.

Cooper River Brewing Company is one you really need to use GPS to find.

It's worth it they all are.

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

My third craft mini-brewery crawl...

 I take drinking a tasty beer seriously.

My credentials as a beery knowledgable guy involved flying to Dublin, Ireland and stopping at the main Guinness Storehouse to be entertained and educated in how to pour a perfect pint.

I could have fooled around, drinking my many "mistakes," but I opted to get it right the first time.

There are 6 steps and too often in bars I spot errors but usually bite my tongue.

Then I just sadly drink the not-exactly-perfect pint.

If I am having a second pint, I do speak up and explain how I was shown by Guinness experts to pull the tap forward for the pour...wait 60 seconds...and then push the tap handle back to complete the pour.

The first pour, with the glass tilted 45 degrees,  energizes the nitrogen, creating literally millions of bubbles.

After it settles, start the second pour at 50% volume so as not to damage the head that has formed, holding the glass upright.

Some appreciate my wisdom while others continue in their error-filled way. Sigh.

I also had discovered cask ales in London and Scotland, but now, here, I am concentrating on our fine local craft brews.

Twisted Cypress is an excellent example of sweat equity producing a brewery long on interest and ability. And taste.

The facility on Sam Rittenberg is a former Moose Lodge that was empty for a decade and fated to be a parking lot.

It was handmade-over by three dedicated brewers.

Reconstruction of the building allowed the freedom to make it just the way they felt it needed to be.

Fitting for the first microbrewery in West Ashley, Mayor John Tecklenburg cut the ribbon before 300 eager coffee and craft beers fans.

It's a coffee house in the mornings and brews later in the day.

I have learned a lot in this craft beer blitz.

So many variations of the physical property.

Wide differences in the number and size of steel vats and tanks.

A wide lawn-like grassy plot out back of Twisted Cypress.

A view of the Ashley River from the deck of Freehouse Brewery.

New developments and changes on allowing dogs at breweries.

Here's an interesting - and unusual view looking down on the bar at the new location of  Frothy Beard Brewing in West Ashley.

Made the move from North Charleston to West Ashley about two months ago.

The bearded ones now have the largest brewery taproom in Charleston.

The "loft" above the bar is great for people watching.

Turn around up there and look down on the rows of shiny new barrel tanks.

The demand kept growing so the expansion came months before they were planned to be added.

There was a Zombie Bob's Pizza truck out in the spacious parking lot but I was pleased to see they also have an inside table-service layout.

The aroma is very enticing and it's family friendly in the high-ceiling taproom.

Some will notice there were only two microbreweries in this posting.

The "standard" flight of 4-glasses of sample beers - some pretty high gravity - has now grown to a 7 sample offering at Twisted Cypress.

Moderation had me stop at 4 + 7 for the evening.

(Click on the photo and links for more details.)

Thanks for tagging along on my three mini-brewery craft beer tours.

I added one solo trip to Oak Road in Summerville where you can have a $2.00-$2.50 sample of every beer they make.

"Flights" of fancy indeed.

Was just reminded by a buddy that North Charleston  soon will be the home of Pawleys Island Brewing Company.

Maybe I'll be invited for a sneak peek?

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Stretching removes wrinkles.........

 I suspect I am not the first person to have wall-to-wall carpet "relax" and lose tension.

When that happens, a "long ridge" wrinkle rises and slowly grows longer and larger.

The cause usually is not having it installed tight enough.

The cure is to have a flooring pro come by and re-stretch it.

He came by yesterday and assured me we did not have to empty the three affected rooms of all the furniture.

Well, that was good news!

Some of it was still in the same place it was placed on the newly-installed carpeting about 10 - 11 years ago.

My desk, for example, needed only to be swiveled sideways. The rest was simply moved away from the affected areas.

Installers use a clever device called a Kick Tool that grips the carpet and then a strong kick with a knee pulls it toward the wall.

Mike's right knee probably had calluses from doing this for many, many years.

I would be crippled if I tried that move even once.

As he moved two bookcases filled with CDs, I remembered that I had NOT moved them when I re-painted the room.

No problem. Mike moved them back in place after tightening the carpet.

Mike was here about 2.5 hours and when he finished, the carpet wrinkles had been re-stretched and smoothed out.

He said my carpeting was in good shape but he might have just said that when he found out I had bought it from the place where he used to work.

And no, he had not done the initial installation!

He's retired now and keeps in shape by pounding his knee into the gripping tool and slamming carpet up against the wall as often as he can.

Mike showed me that actual inches were removed from the edges after he nudged it forward to take up the slack.

He then cut that excess off with his carpet knife (Well, duh, that's what I've always called it) er, his utility knife then tamped it down onto the perimeter tack strips for a tight fit.

We rolled and toted back the furniture that had been moved out of his way.

We swung the desk back in place and I look forward to redoing the various plugs and connections that had been taken loose.

(That was an easy task because he was mindful of that when he had moved it.

This was not his" first rodeo, "after all.
Reach Mike the wrinkle-remover at mikew8638@ or (843) 926-5781.

(Click on the links and photos for more details.)

I had visited a brother-in-law's home and noticed he had several areas of wrinkles (loosened) carpet in his Great Room. Then, later, at a Thanksgiving meal, I saw they were gone.

I should have asked then if he had replaced the carpet.

Thanks for stopping by to help move furniture and learn how to remove wrinkles.


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Friday, May 12, 2017

Found the BEST brewery in Summerville...

 Well, technically, Oak Road is the ONLY brewery in Summerville.

As I sipped one of the 10 beers posted on the menu behind the bar, I was chatting with Trent Nisbet who gave me the brief history of the brewery at 108 East 3rd North Street.

When he agreed with me that it was the only one, I had suggested they proclaim itself as the BEST Brewery in town.

When the CEO Benjamin Bankey came in a little bit later, he was told of my suggestion and agreed that would be good marketing.

"We could play around with that as we prepare for our 2nd Anniversary next month in June, he allowed.

I had a good chat with the knowledgeable and affable BrewMaster Brian Cox who explained a clear idea of what he was brewing in his collection of 30-gallon vats.

While I was not aware the brewery had opened, I HAD visited next door 2-3 years ago at the next door fun Coastal Coffee Roasters that featured "Food+Drinks + Music and so much more."

Now, of course, the sign has added beer and wine.

It's a friendly family place and today a food truck was parked out front offering a different take on a pizza.

CEO Bankey said all three entities are under one roof just off Main Street and all the partners work hard to make the whole operation a success.

I was searching for the coffee place I remembered and didn't realize the brewery was there.

My buddy had just responded to my email asking for the brewery's name and address when I turned off Main and saw it. Very glad I did. It was a pleasant stop and brought the number of breweries I had visited in this series to an even dozen.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.) This was a rare daytime visit to check out where beer is made.

The good news is that Oak Road is looking at adding Wednesday and Sunday to it open hours - probably by the anniversary celebration in June.

Makes sense to stop by, sample some tasty brews and not have a long drive back from downtown Charleston. Makes a LOT of sense.

And, be sure to see some brewery humor at the water fountain hanging on the wall.

 They are very busy making some fine beers and if they want to offer an opinion about how another national brand tastes, sounds fair to me.

(I used to drink Ultra a long, long time ago.)

But then, Craft Beers started appearing on the scene and the taste difference was VERY apparent.

Thanks, Brewmeisters!

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Monday, May 01, 2017

"Kids do the darndest things..."

Well, I guess it's my fault.

I DID tell my grandson Aiden that kids were allowed to wade in the Pineapple Fountain at Waterfront Park downtown.

And, he did see others splashing and having watery fun.

At first, he heeded his mom's suggestion that he hold up his shorts so they would not get wet.

This was Day 3 of a 5-day visit by my daughter, who had driven from Sand Springs, Oklahoma, to visit me, relax and take in some of the sights.

We had been out to Sullivan's Island the day before and cruising over to the Isle of Palms, he got to see an ocean for the first time.

Living in a land-locked suburb of Tulsa, he could relate to lakes and rivers, but this was his first ocean.

I assured him it was big and he was seeing only the top.

Also probably the first time he had stepped into a fountain that had a sign: "NO LIFEGUARD.

It was a warm day, the end of April, and many other children had already been told they could be on the steps around the fountain.

This was the first time I had been here with a 5-year-old and I wisely stepped back and let his mom decide if Aiden could join the others.

Things were going swell until he spotted a boy in the deeper spot, beneath the fountain overhang, who was wearing swim goggles.

Maybe that sight caused him to miss a step and trip off the step he was on and submerge into the chilly water.

My grandson resignedly stepped out and dripped his way to his grandpop and mom who realized we did not have a change of dry clothes!

Poor planning.

A kid + a fountain + permission to wade should have made us more alert to the next logical step - or misstep - and have at least a towel.

But, as we found the day before at the beach, the sun was shining, clothes dry out and the fun continues.

One of the nearby oversize swings was a pleasant way to let the wind dry you as the tallest member of the trio used his long legs to push the swing higher and higher.

Grandson spotted the sign that said to be polite and limit your swing time to 20 minutes.

He asked me to tell him when the time was up.

We passed by "the other" fountain at Waterfront Park but he seemed less eager to get soaked and just passed his hands in front of one of the streams.

As he dried, we continued out onto the pier and I showed where the weekly cruise ship docked.

Then I spotted a red flag flapping in the breeze and suggested we take a Water Taxi round trip over the harbor with several stops along the way.

All agreed and we watched as a Taxi cruised by and then returned from the Maritime Center and headed to us standing at its berth on the pier.

L'il Man was excited to get on board and found us a the sun.

No problem as others boarded and we cast off. A few turns and we were now seated in the shade of the big overhead awning.

This was not a narrated tour - a basic maritime boat ride from Point A to Point B - but we scooted across the harbor to the Mt. Pleasant side.

I was able to share a tip on how to avoid getting seasick as we bounced along.

Aiden had ducked his head down onto his mom's lap and I suggested he sit up and keep an eye on the horizon.

Then I explained that the line between the water and the sky was called the horizon. He's a smart home-schooled youngster and digested that new fact.

He did sit up and the breeze in his face helped too. No sickness problem.

Soon we were looking up at the stern of the USS Yorktown. ...and two small sailing ships anchored in the marina.

I had seen an article in the paper that these were replicas of Christopher Columbus' Nina and the Pinta and were on public display.

It was a moody scene so I printed them in black and white instead of in color. I knew they were modeled after an Italian Caravel but I hope these were not actual size! They looked so small for such an extended exploration.

(Click on the links and the photos for more details.)

Thanks for spending some time with me and my family down by the famed Charleston Harbor.

I'll add some more, including a place where the drinks "are on the house."

Well, there's real money stapled all over the dive bar called The Griffon

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Sounds of Music....

 Music is in the air in our city, at the usual places like CMH (Charleston Music Hall) but also scattered all around.

I try to get out and literally support live music at the Pour House, Tin Roof, and other venues.

It's a labor of love and I flinch when security taps me on the shoulder and says I can't use my camera at a show.

I point out I am complying with the rules as stated at the front door - not using flash and not videotaping performers.

Also stressing I have a point-and-shoot small travel camera that does NOT have removable lenses like a pro DSLR. I am not a threat!

I am told I can use my phone but not my camera. It's possible I have the ONLY camera in the place now that the ubiquitous cell phone has taken over.

The problem for me is my camera has an excellent zoom lens that lets me get in close to capture beads of sweat, glistening on a performer's face.

Cell phone cameras are improving almost daily but can't match that critical excellence quite yet.

I assume technology eventually will bring them to the point that a cell could attain the crisp clarity I now can achieve with my shirt pocket-size digital camera.

The two photos shown here so far were taken with my Smartphone.

Instead of staying in my seat and capturing Jonny Lang and his band the other night, I stood up and walked closer to the stage.

They were taking their final bow after a 2-hour show at this stop on their 2017 national tour,

In this instance, I "was" the zoom lens.

Earlier, seated and using my phone, it performed well because it did not need to "move in closer."

I wanted to capture the overall scene of the solo encore when Jonny came out alone and played 3 more songs.

Then, the rest of the band came back out and joined the encore.

The lighting was moody and excellent.

Quinn Sullivan, the young man and his band who was the opener, really dazzled the crowd, receiving frequent and prolonged well-deserved standing ovations.

He said it was his first trip to Charleston and he appreciated the warm audience reaction to his band and their music.

Lang mentioned how pleased he was with the success of Sullivan as the opener and advised us to keep alert as his popularity rises. "You will hear a lot from this young man," Lang added.

Last Saturday, I was surprised by an elaborate and colorful music DJ setting up at Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers in North Charleston.

I had just finished a mini-Brewery Crawl and was ready to dig into a pizza or Calzone.

Well, and a beer.

The Calzone was great, the beer was cold and the music was unexpected.

Later learned it was an after-party for The Chainsmokers appearing that night at the Coliseum.

This is a walk-to-it event held at the Mellow Mushroom, sponsored by Yazoo Brewery.

Not a place to try for a quiet conversation but the fellow diners and party-goers seemed more than all right with it!

The party was to officially begin around 10 pm, after the show ended at the Coliseum and when the crowd started to arrive. As usual, I had my pro earplugs with me, so I slipped them in and enjoyed my meal.

The sound - and the lighting - was spectacular.

I wandered over to take a closer look at all the hardware it took to put on this show. There was a lot of it!

I also looked up some background on Yazoo Brewery  in Nashville, Tennessee. Very fitting because I had just visited four local breweries.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for coming along on this musical interlude...and the after-party.

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Two Sets of far

Some know that I started growing a beard last year.

Movember to be exact. That's the month that a mustache is grown to show support for a worthy cause - awareness of men's health issues.

If you have not seen my moustache AND beard, here is a photo of what it looks like.

No, not really.

That actually is me standing behind a cut out of the distinctive photo on the label of a popular beer made by Holy City Brewing Company.

It is called Chucktown Follicle Brown and the cut-out that beckons you to poke your face through is at the brewery on Dorchester Road.

This was one of the three places visited Saturday on another rousing, brave but cheerful, Brewery Mini-Crawl.

There are several other clusters I plan to visit.

Cheerful because it was time to visit a trio of craft beer-making places.

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and my camera and I were among happy, cheerful people, chugging some fine tasting beers.

Looks like some breweries serve food so children are allowed to be there.

I saw lots of families enjoying an offbeat pre-Easter outing.

To wisely sample the offerings of many beers it pays to be sensible.

At each place, I looked over the menu and selected four small "samples" of the brewmaster's product by a particular brewing company.

Moderation in moderation.

Here I chose 2 dark stout and porter beers and two lighter ones:
Notorious Hen, an American Porter with a BBQ Rub; Fancy Stout with sweetteeth caramel added; Smells Like Rick, bourbon barrel aged and Kate the Great, red wine barrel aged.

While sipping and tasting, I saw a lady with a 4-glass flight, taking a sip of each glass in rotation so all four were now half-filled.

Hmm. Kind of defeating the whole tasting concept.

Might as well pour all four mixed together in a pint glass!

Looking to my right I saw a colorful, catchy mural by the artist Patch Whisky.

There was a sizable crowd this afternoon at the bar and I could not avoid having a man's head included in the lower left of the mural.

Not my best ever use of the clone app of Photoshop, but I did try to eliminate the fellow. If you can't see what I did there, I am sure the artist would have issues.

Let's just not tell him and keep this among ourselves. Thanks. Whew.

Hoping the get a view of the Ashley River before sunset, we headed over to nearby one-year-old FreeHouse Brewing Company.

 Known for its nice deck, picnic tables and spectacular sunsets on the river, it also prides itself on producing all organic craft brews.

Our friendly bartender showed a Thursday sunset photo she had phone snapped and I recalled it had
been a cloudy sky which usually adds bright colors to the end of the day.

Looking out past the tall, silvery beer vats and the bar, I saw it was a lackluster kind of sky so just sat at the bar and tried a 4-glass flight.

The organic beers I sipped included a Green Door IPA, the HooDoo Imperial Stout, Lucky Oyster Stout and a Battery Brown Ale.

These four 4 oz glasses held enough to really savor the taste, yet kept total consumption to a minimum.

Being an older native Charlestonian, I can remember when the Fox Music store was downtown on the corner of King and Beaufain Streets.

My 1950s high school buddies and I would go in to browse the vinyl records.

Then we'd select one or two albums and walk down the squeaky wood floor, enter one of several glass enclosed booths and play the record on a turntable. Some dancing often happened.

I had left town by the time it closed and moved out to 3005 West Montague Avenue.

Part of their building in the back was used to store pianos but, after a lot of work, that space was opened three weeks ago as the Rusty Bull Brewing Company, in Suite 110.

I peeked through the window in the front door and stepped in to be part of the "soft opening."

The Official grand opening is set for May 6. I like one of their slogans:"We make it. You drink it."

I chatted with the two Co-Founders, heavy-bearded Ben Mayer and Brian Bogstad. 

As usual, I ordered a flight so I could sample some but, instead of four, a fifth was added.

As the menu board on the wall behind the bar stated, right now they only make five offerings so they threw in the 5th to give me ALL of today's taste options!

Here is a shot of the menu on the wall of beers offered but many more will be added by the May 6 Grand Opening, Ben assured me.

Reason enough for me to swing by again. And again.

I saw something new being offered at these breweries.

I was used to seeing a large dark colored glass 64-oz Growler that can be filled and sealed (no open container in your car).

The new item is a Crowler. a 32-oz metal container that is sealed with a flip-top so you can conveniently - and legally -  take two pints home.

Currently, they are closed Sunday and Monday, but that is subject to change.

(Click on the images and links for more details.)

This is only the second mini-Brewery Crawl. As more are added, this could turn into a long-term writing odyssey!

That would be cool.

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