Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Oops. Some local brewery visits I overlooked...

 Lo-Fi was among the three North Charleston breweries that I visited during my fourth mini-tour that, for several reasons, never made it into my blog.

Until Now.

One excuse: May The 4th Be With You was the day I picked to go taste some brewed product.

You know, May 4 and the big Star Wars hoopla, was going on.

My brewery tour "report" was sort of lost in the shuffle.

(This was a vastly different calendar event than the famed April 20th celebration.
That one involved "munchies" by avid celebrants. Unless they forgot about it until the next day.)

So finding the low-key LO-FI Brewing Company was the first challenge that Thursday afternoon/evening.

They were pretty vague about where it was located so it was somewhat of a challenge for my phone's GPS.

Came out Spruill Avenue and finally spotted a banner hanging on a fence about where it turned into Meeting Street Road.

The brewery was among a cluster of well-worn industrial buildings and I parked near the wide open doors and walked into the spacious setting.

The first thing I noticed was the bartender wearing a Star Wars t-shirt. OK, so the party had begun!

This site was a bit different from the others as I was used to ordering a flight so I could sample several different brews.

Not here at the Lo-Fi Brewing Company.

It was explained they did not have the small 4 oz. glasses nor the cute wooden tray that holds them.

Well, time to adapt. I asked what the most often requested, the most popular beer that they offered?

Then, I settled on a stool and sipped a pint of Glitter Pony, an 8.4 ABV Belgian Trippel, named, I suppose, for their symbol, the colorful unicorn.

My North Charleston brewery number two was just a short drive to Fatty's Beer Works, at 1436 Meeting Street Road.

The Star Wars effect was also obvious here and the celebration had started quite a while before we got there.

Relatively new (Fatty's opened in March), Davis McLain, the owner is personable and very welcoming.

You are not a stranger to him, just a friend he had not met yet. David proudly handed out stickers of the three labeled cans they produce - so far.

It was very obvious that dogs were welcomed here and many were lounging around, lapping at filled water bowls.

Several parked bikes showed the riders had found a handy pedal break spot along Meeting Street Road to take a break.

After finding this hospitable open space, I was pleased to hear the owner espouse that these new additions in a close proximity would be good promotable features of North Charleston.

David added his thought that Fatty's was a nice and tasty alternative to driving all the way downtown.

Perhaps this was a way to help alleviate some of the trafic.

Both of these breweries are promoting and expanding distribution of their cold and frosty products.

I recently sipped a Glitter Pony at YoBo Cantina in Park Circle so the word - and the product - is out there now in circulation.

The third brewery in North Charleston to be explored on this mini-crawl also offers a GPS challenge.

For example, the name itself might have you heading in the wrong direction! This is NOT east of the Cooper.

Cooper River Brewing Company opened as a 15 barrel brewhouse and taproom in the Upper Peninsula at 2201 Mechanic Street, Suite B.

The map on my phone's GPS showed more twists and turns than a  winding mountain road.

But, the lady's calm voice kept encouraging me that I WAS heading in the right direction.

And we did find it, pulled up, parked and went inside to the place that features a symbol an oft-sighted familiar bird, but here it is called the Brew Heron.

Caught the Managing Director and Co-Founder, Dustin Pait, behind the bar and he gave us a hearty welcome and poured us a delicious 4-sample flight of their beers.

Dustin said CRBC opened two years ago when three friends realized their dream. It even includes an outdoor courtyard to add a back porch feeling they all loved so much.

Jamie Martin had enjoyed touring breweries, Michael Gates and his wife had been home brewing for years and Dustin was known for having a nose for an excellent IPA.

Not surprising, the choices include a Summer IPA, an Inaugural IPA and a West Coast IPA.

There also is a Stout, Porter (Nitro), Golden Ale, Orange Infused Blonde Ale, ESB and a Watermelon Wheat.

Sorry about the delay in presenting one of our 3-breweries mini-tour facts, figures, and photos.

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

I also went back to the Rusty Bull on Montague Avenue to check out its Grand Opening.

Quite a crowd and a fun time was had by all!

Thanks for tagging along.

We'll keep this up as newcomers open.

Enjoy a cool one!

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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 for a look at two there.

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 and Huddle 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 ....as 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@ gmail.com 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 seat...in 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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