It’s never been a secret that I’m a liquor kind of lady. Give me a vat of vodka, a barrel of bourbon, or a receptacle of rum and I’m a happy girl. Jager, Rumple and Goldschlager are the three bears to my Goldilocks.
I used to be about as interested in beer as I am in the reproductive habits of the African ant. I thought it tasted like crap and took entirely too great of a quantity to achieve a sufficient buzz. “Not worth it!” I’d shout, shaking my fist for emphasis. “Why drink carbonated pond water when you can drink 92-proof SAILOR JERRY?!”
But, as with many things in life, I eventually figured out that beer is one of those…acquired tastes. There was a time in my early years when I thought it was absolutely disgusting that my parents drank iced tea and coffee. Now, you can’t pry me away from the coffee pot without excessive physical force and it is scientific fact that unsweetened iced tea is one of the most refreshing beverages on the planet. The stronger, the better – in both cases.
I distinctly remember the first time I had a beer and actually thought, “This is fantastic. This is why people drink beer.” I was at a Mexican restaurant and someone had ordered a Corona Light. I thought nothing of it until the waiter brought out the frostiest mug I’ve ever seen and I noticed that the beer was so cold it was partially frozen. Tiny glaciers of mass-market import beer floated delicately on the surface and I knew in that instant that I must have one for myself. A squeeze of lime and suddenly, beer was everything I’d never hoped it would be. Delicious.
From then on, I dabbled in fine brews such as Bud Light, Icehouse and more recently, Busch Light…but I’ve pretty much still stuck to liquor. Beer has been my go-to for those I-don’t-feel-like-drinking-but-I’m-at-a-bar-so-I-kind-of-want-something-in-my-hand nights. And because sub-$3.00 beer is not a rare find here, a couple of harmless beers is much easier on the wallet than several liquor drinks. (Although, to be fair, drinking is exceptionally cheap here in South Carolina’s capital city. $1.00 house liquor nights are not at all unheard of and most bars keep bottom-shelf priced under $4.00 regardless of day and time.)
But then? Progression happened. Over the last few weeks I’ve been focusing on stepping up my beer game. I’m tired of defaulting to substandard brew just because I know it’s “safe.” I’m tired of frequenting establishments with a fine selection of drafts and receiving the stink-eye from bartenders and fellow patrons alike when I turn on my flashing “n00b” sign and ask for a Bud Light or a vodka water. Luckily, most bars are perfectly willing to provide a small sample of a beer prior to committing to a full pint, which has helped immensely in navigating the waters of this sudsy new sea.
Two particular watering holes have been a critical stepping stone in this journey of mine: The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium and World of Beer, both located in Columbia’s Vista district. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a craft draft in either of these friendly joints, so I’ve been bellying up to the bar to learn me a little somethin’-somethin’ about how to drink a damn proper beer.
While I haven’t been rigorously documenting each and every sip to pass between my lips, I will take pause here to give a hearty shout-out to Westbrook Brewing Company of Mount Pleasant (aka Charleston), SC. This past weekend, I was perusing the extensive list at World of Beer and Westbrook’s Saison-Ale caught my eye.
I proceeded to not shut up about this beer for even five minutes at a time for the duration of the evening. Crisp, ever-so-slightly peppery, with a finish that reminded me of orange juice (of all things), I fell in love.
The very next day, I scooted over to Total Wine to pick up a liter of this succulent nectar for enjoyment in the comfort of my own home.
While I was meandering through the aisles, I also spotted and subsequently secured a can of this:
With notes of lemongrass and ginger, this brew was another huge hit with my tastebuds.
So when I heard that Westbrook was having a tasting night at World of Beer on Tuesday evening, duh…I had to be there. Especially when the magical communication portal that is Twitter alerted me to the fact that my interwebs pal April Blake was going to be there, I knew it was fate.
I was able to confirm that my love-at-first-sight emotions for Westbrook Brewing were not just a mere fantasy, but a well-founded reality. I also met and chatted with the brewers, Edward and Morgan Westbrook (who are, um, my age and clearly 1000 times more successful at life), and finally met April in person.
- Westbrook Brewing Co. is amazing. Drink local! If you’re not local to SC, well, I hate it for you because you’re missing out on some seriously wonderful stuff. As they expand, hopefully some of their brew will make its way into your booze market.
- 6.2% ABV seems to be my happy place.
- I’ll still shotgun a Busch Light with the best of ‘em, but for real, I’m kind of over crappy beer and liquor in general. As my mom so politely likes to tell me, “Life is too short for shit alcohol.” O hai, light, I finally see you at the end of this tunnel!
- Tastings = win. So educational.
All this being said… I am open to beer suggestions! Better late to the party than never, amirite?