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December 1st, 2011

Beer lineup news, new stuff for December, and 3 beer dinners!

First, a little bit of bad news: we have decided to stop brewing (at least for a while) the Belgian Pale. Unfortunately it just wasn’t selling fast enough to make sure that the beer stayed fresh. Ok now on to the good news: the Vanilla Tree Dubbel will be taking its place as a semi-year round offering. Right now the plan is to brew the Vanilla Tree during the cooler months (October – March) and switch it up with another beer for the warmer months (April – September). We also hope to introduce an additional year-round beer soon. Leaning towards some sort of stout or brown ale, but we’re open to suggestions!

In other news, we have a lot of good stuff coming your way this month! First up will be our first bottle releases – Dark Helmet 22oz bombers and barrel-aged Tripel 750ml bottles. We know a lot of you have been waiting patiently (or not so patiently) for the first beers to come out of the barrel room, so we’re very happy to announce that there will be not 1, but 3 (three!) different versions of the wine barrel-aged Tripel released simultaneously at the brewery on Dec. 15th! Each of the beers was aged for 8 months in a different type of red wine barrel to explore the effects that the various types of wood and wine would have on the beer. The barrels were: 2008 Whetstone Bella Vigna Pinot Noir (French oak), Rombauer single-vineyard Cabernet (French & American oak), and Tiger Mountain Malbec (American oak). These beers are different than anything we have tasted before and very limited, so don’t miss out!

As if that’s not enough, we’ll also be releasing our 1st Anniversary beer on December 20th! To mark this auspicious occasion we have brewed the Mexican Cake, a massive Imperial stout aged on Ecuadorian and Ghanaian cocoa nibs, cinnamon, vanilla, and habanero peppers. Some of you may have tasted the test batch we had in the tasting room a while back – imagine that beer turned up to 11 and you have the Mexican Cake!

There are lots of great events coming up in December! First up is a joint Westbrook/Allagash beer dinner at The Boathouse on Breach Inlet on December 5th. The menu looks amazing and we’re honored to be featured alongside a fantastic brewery like Allagash. $45/person + tax & gratuity. Call 843-886-8000 for reservations.

Next we’ll be at The Macintosh on Dec.14th for their very first beer dinner! To celebrate we’ll be bringing some special beers – there is another barrel aged beer (in addition to the Tripels) that we kegged especially for this dinner. Details, including pricing and the menu, are still being finalized so stay tuned. Seating for this event will be very limited!

And finally to cap it off, we’ll be hosting our 1st Anniversary Celebration and beer dinner at the brewery on December 20th! More details to come, but there will definitely be some very special and rare beers as well as a 5-course dinner. Hope to see you there!

Cheers!

Edward & Morgan Westbrook

November 7th, 2011

Cans are here!

IPA and White Thai cans are going out today and tomorrow to retailers all over South Carolina! Here’s a list (in somewhat alphabetical order) of all the places you can find them:

Baan Sawan
Bottles Mt. P
Charleston Beer Exchange
Cellar on Greene
Community Tap
Earthfare- Columbia
Earthfare- Folly Beach
Earthfare- Greenville
Earthfare- Rock Hill
Greenville Beer Exchange
Grapevine
Greens- Assembly
Greens- Greenville
Greens- Myrtle Beach
Greens- Piney Grove
Micky Finns #1
Micky Finns #2
Morganelli’s
Mr. Friendly’s
Nose Dive
Piggly Wiggly # 26
Piggly Wiggly #103
Piggly Wiggly #14
Piggly Wiggly #1
Piggly Wiggly #10
Piggly Wiggly #42
Piggly Wiggly #134
Piggly Wiggly #20
Piggly Wiggly #54
Piggly Wiggly #22
Piggly Wiggly #40
Piggly Wiggly #43
Piggly Wiggly #101
Piggly Wiggly Bluffton #23
Piggly Wiggly #47
Rollers Total Bev
Sam’s Fine Wine and Spirits
Solstice
Total Wine-Columbia
Total Wine-Charleston
Total Wine-Greenville
Vintage of Hartsville
Whole Foods- Greenville
Whole Foods- Mt. P

September 17th, 2011

A duo of lagers for Sept/Oct and a collaboration announcement!

We’re excited to present our very first lagers for your drinking pleasure! Many craft brewers tend to brew only ales since they are easier and quicker to produce. Lagers, with their cooler fermentation temperatures and longer maturation requirements, need more tank time and attention to brew – but here at Westbrook we think the results are worth the wait! The Zwickelbier, a rarely seen German lager style, gets it name from the sampling valve on a fermentation tank (“Zwickel” in German). It is unfiltered, relatively low in alcohol, and served very soon after fermentation is complete. For this reason, Zwickelbiers usually don’t make it very far from the brewery where they are produced. Our version is brewed with 100% German Pils and Vienna malts and Czech Saaz hops. A cold fermentation with a classic Bavarian lager yeast lets the pure flavors of the malt and hops shine through. Look for it on tap very soon! The Maerzen (or Octoberfest as they are more commonly called in the US) is a smooth amber lager brewed with Vienna, Munich, and Caramunich malts. Again, the Bavarian lager yeast creates a clean, malt focused beer perfect for drinking by the liter outside in the cool fall weather. In fact, the Marzenbier will be making its debut at just such an occasion – the 2nd annual Octoberfest at Closed for Business this Friday, 9/23! If you can wait a few more days, it will be hitting the taps around SC the following week.

We’re also thrilled to announce the upcoming release of our first collaboration beer!

Earlier this summer we brewed two beers with the guys from The Charleston Beer Exchange – the first is now sleeping soundly in our barrel room and won’t be ready for 18 months, but the second beer is ready to drink now! It’s a single-hopped Cascade double IPA brewed with approximately 50 lbs of fresh grapefruit, and then dry-hopped 4 times(!!) in the fermentor. We have dubbed this beer the Citrus _____ Exchange and it will be released sometime the week of the 26th at the Charleston and Greenville Beer Exchange stores. It will also be on sale at the brewery for tasting and growler fills, and a small amount should be making an appearance at some of our best draft accounts around town.

Here’s a few photos from the brewing sessions:

Pre-brew breakfast. It was the only place open before 6am on Sunday!

Brandon Plyler (aka "Old Time") adds some sugar to the boil

Rich gets the grain out of the lauter tun. Intern George assists.

And then Rich gets weird with the barrels

While the wort boils, a fierce match of badminton breaks out

Cheers to a successful brew!

That’s all for now – we’ll be back soon with an update on our canning line and more new beers for this fall/winter.

Cheers,

Edward & Morgan

August 12th, 2011

August Update – New beers and more

We’re excited to announce that we have not just one, but two new beers hitting the taps around town very soon! The first, the American Bitter, is the inaugural beer fermented in our new 15 bbl tank. If you’ve been to the brewery before, you might know that we normally brew 30 bbls per batch – equal to (60) 15.5 gallon kegs or 1653 six-packs of beer, which equals….a lot of beer! This 15 bbl tank lets us brew some smaller batches of different, experimental beers without taking up space in our larger tanks. These beers are limited release one-offs and may never be brewed again, so be sure to get your hands (or mouths) on them quickly! The American Bitter is an Americanized (i.e. hopped up) version of a traditional English bitter. Bitters are low alcohol (3 to 4.5% abv) pale ales that are often dry hopped and served on cask. Our take on the style is suitably sessionable at a modest 4% abv, but we wanted to turn it up a notch in the hop department – so instead of using the mellower English hop varieties we blasted it with a blend of Centennial and Chinook in the kettle, followed by a hefty dry hop with more Centennial. Since cask ale hasn’t gone mainstream in South Carolina yet, this beer is kegged and fully carbonated (which actually helps the hop aroma jump out of the glass better). The result? A great beer to get your hop fix with and still be able to drive home!

Our other new beer, the SaisonAle, is our August/September seasonal. French for “season,” Saisons were traditionally brewed in Belgian farmhouses in autumn to be consumed in the late summer during the harvest. Our version of this classic Belgian ale is pale gold, with an intense fruity and peppery aroma from the Saison yeast strain. It’s light bodied and crisp on the palate with a very dry finish that makes this the perfect beer for hot weather!

In other news, we’re going to start canning the White Thai and IPA in about 4 weeks! Why cans instead of bottles? Cans are a better package for beer since they don’t let in any light – even brown glass bottles allow some light through which can result in skunky beer. Cans are also much lighter and won’t shatter like glass bottles will, so they’re portable and safe for the beach, boat, pool, etc. Follow us on Facebook for photos and updates on our canning progress! We’re also working on bottling some of our upcoming seasonals and barrel-aged beers in 750ml and 22oz bottles. As far as new beers for the fall/winter, yes, we have been listening to your requests for some darker & stronger stuff….

Cheers,

Edward & Morgan

May 10th, 2011

Beer Update – IPA, Belgian Pale, and a new seasonal

Since we started up back in December, a lot of people have asked me if it was difficult transitioning from brewing 10 gallon batches of beer at home to brewing 1000 gallon batches at the brewery. The answer is yes and no – no because the equipment we have at the brewery is designed for brewing beer, which makes it a lot easier to control variables like fermentation temperature, yeast pitching, grain mill settings etc. – so if a particular batch turns out really well, we can easily replicate it later. The difficult part has turned out to be taking the 10 gallon recipe and duplicating it with a 1000 gallon recipe. Stuff like lauter tun depth, kettle surface area, fermentation vessel height to diameter ratio and lots of other things all have an impact on the final flavor of the beer and there’s no exact calculation (that we know of anyway) that you can do to accurately predict the results. A good analogy is homemade spaghetti sauce – it’s one thing to make it at home for a family of 6-8, but suppose you join the army and get tasked with cooking it for the entire platoon. I’m sure it will be good, but it probably won’t taste the same as the homemade version (at least the first time). The point of all this is that you’ve probably noticed some subtle – or not so subtle, it depends – variations between different batches of our beers. This is because we’ve been tweaking our recipes and processes with each batch to try and get as close as we can to my original homebrewed versions of these beers.

Well friends, we’ve nearly done it. The latest batches of IPA and Belgian Pale that were picked up by the distributor this week are as close as we’ve come yet. A couple quick notes on each one:

IPA
3 major changes here – yeast strain, hop varieties, and dry-hopping method. The old yeast strain was difficult to work with and we had a terrible time getting the beer to clear up in the bright tank. The new English yeast strain is much better in that regard and also produces a slightly fruity flavor which really complements the hop character. With the hop varieties, we eliminated the Centennial and we’ve started dry hopping with a new hop blend called Falconer’s Flight, which is very fruity and citrusy. We’ve also tweaked our dry-hopping method to deliver even more hop aroma. The overall result is an extremely aromatic and bright (as opposed to dank/herbal) IPA. If you’re not sure which one you’re drinking, ask the server/bartender to look at the number written on the keg collar – new batches will be numbered 16 or higher.

Belgian Pale
This beer is now a lot more…Belgian-y (Belgianish?). We adjusted the proportions of the malts in the grain bill and added a small percentage of Aromatic malt, which imparts a distinctive sweet, malty aroma. The other big change is the fermentation temperature. Previous batches were fermented at a cooler temperature for the entire length of fermentation, while the new batch was started cool and allowed to warm up naturally during fermentation by about 10 degrees. This encourages the Belgian yeast strain to produce a lot more esters and phenols, which are the chemical compounds with those distinctive fruity and peppery flavors that most people look for in a Belgian-style beer. If you liked the yeast character in our Tripel (get it while you can, we’re out of it at the brewery), you’ll like the new Belgian Pale. The new batch numbers on the keg collars are numbered 17 and higher.

New seasonal: Citra Rye Pale Ale
Our newest “seasonal” beer is a single-hopped rye pale ale featuring the Citra hop. Citra is one of our favorite hop varieties and has some crazy tropical fruit flavors and aromatics – think mango, pineapple, and orange. Add in 10% malted rye just to make it interesting and you have a super sessionable pale ale perfect for the warm Charleston spring. Kegs will be going out this coming Monday and should be hitting the taps later next week. 5% ABV, 35 IBUs.

There you have it – 3 new beers to try. Homework assignment: Let us know what you think!

Cheers!

-Edward

February 2nd, 2011

Tasting Room is open!

The tasting room is open for tours/tastings starting today from 4 until 7 pm! Normal operating hours are posted on the Tasting Room page along with the beer list and SC beer tasting/sale regulations. This week we’re featuring 2 beers from our pilot batch collection – A single hopped Citra Rye Pale Ale and an Oatmeal Stout. These beers are brewed on our 15 gallon pilot brewing system and are only available at the brewery. Our goal is to always have at least one of our pilot batches on for every tasting, just to keep things interesting. Every beer on the list is available for growler fills. Come see us!

NOTE: We can only accept cash right now, but our merchant account for credit/debit cards should be set up soon.

December 7th, 2010

Finally

It’s time to announce the official launch events. Here they are:

• Monday, Dec. 20th, 4-6pm @Charleston Beer Exchange, 14 Exchange St., Charleston
• Monday, Dec. 20th, 6-10pm @ Chai’s Lounge and Tapas, 462 King St., Charleston
• Tuesday, Dec. 21st, 6-10pm @ Barley’s Taproom and Pizzaria, 25 W. Washington St., Greenville
• Wednesday, Dec. 22nd, 4:30-6:30pm @ Green’s Beverage, 4012-B Fernandia Rd., Columbia
• Wednesday, Dec. 22nd, 7-10pm @ Flying Saucer, 931 Senate St., Columbia
• Thursday, Dec 23rd, 6-10pm @ Closed for Business, 453 King St., Charleston

Hope to see you there!