Surf and Suds in South Carolina

One of my brothers owns a time share in a condo in
Garden City, S.C., just south of Myrtle Beach. Because
of work scheduling, he was unable to use it this year
and offered it to my two sisters, who cordially invited
me along. With just the three of us going, I figured it
would be a good opportunity for a little sibling bonding,
or at least a further extension of sibling rivalry since we
rarely agree on anything, especially the kind of beer we
drink.

Although my sister Sally has a somewhat more refined
palate (she occasionally opts for a Sierra Nevada or Fat
Tire and likes to visit brewpubs in addition to slamming
down Coor’s Lights on the beach), our sister Jane is
more of a devotee of mass marketed swill and
subscribes to the old theory of “quantity, not quality”,
accounting for the large stockpile of Silver Bullets in the
ice box.

Actually, neither of the girls are big imbibers, preferring
to drink beer only at party time, as opposed to their
older brother who only likes HIS beer anytime. But since
this week by the ocean was “party time”, I had a hard
time keeping up.

We set off with me behind the wheel and them bitching
about departure time, route, speed, etc. I anticipated a
relaxing week of body surfing, reading, piping on the
beach and arguing, but didn’t really think that beer-wise
it would be a memorable week. Not so! With just a little
effort I managed to add almost thirty untried beers to
my log, including the worst beer I’ve ever drunk, and
had several exciting and different “beer moments”.

My sisters mistakenly assured me that, unlike the Jersey
Shore, the consumption of beer is legal on the beaches
of the Palmetto State. Armed with this info, I included
some Hoegaarden in the shopping cart on our trip to
the liquor store to stock up, a trip which preceded the
trip to the grocery store. Some things are more
important than others.

I correctly figured that Hoegaarden would be a perfect
beer to sip while sitting in a beach chair, under the
umbrella, reading, dozing and gazing at the ocean and
bathing beauties. This perfection lasted about five
minutes before a beach nazi good naturedly threatened
fines and/or life in prison for drinking on the beach.

Actually, the officer was more than reasonable, assuring
us he and his partners would not be able to see any
beer cans covered by a koozie, but that bottles were
absolutely verboten. So much for the Hoegaarden, and
for that matter 99% of any available craft brews which
are only sold in bottles, so another trip to the store for
some Yuengling was mandated. Yuengling isn’t
Hoegaarden but it beats hell out of Coor’s Light!

I had the car and informed the girls I’d take them
anywhere they wanted to go. They really didn’t want to
go anywhere except back to the store for more watery
Coor’s, so they were relatively cheap dates. I did insist,
however, that they accompany me to the only brewpub
in the area, the Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery,
located according to an ad in the local paper at
Broadway at the Beach. This sounded great!

I pictured a brewpub with a large oceanfront deck where
could try a sampler which hopefully included a
hefeweizen or other beers of summer. In reality,
Broadway at the Beach is an enormous tourist trap
featuring shopping, chain restaurants, rides, cotton
candy and jewelry carts located several miles from the
ocean, but having taken the time to find it, we decided
to stay for a burger and a brew and get home as soon
as possible. Not the quiet pub I envisioned, cooled by
ocean breezes and the solitude of a summer evening,
this place was wall-to wall vacationers wearing T-shirts
which read “I Got Screwed and Tattooed in Myrtle
Beach, S.C.”

Rather than wait with the hundreds of others for a
table, we elected to sit in the self seating section of the
bar area, where we elbowed our way in and had a
sampler while listening to some sort of abominable
screaming from the juke box, which was interrupted
every fifteen seconds by the hostess, sounding like the
train announcer at Penn Station as she bellowed “Mr.
Mazzatootera, party of 38, your tables are ready. Your
tables are ready, Mr. Mazzatootera, party of  38”, and
two minutes later:”Mr. Mazzatootera, party of 38, last
call. Last call for Mr. Mazzatootera, party of 38”.

The eight beer sampler included five nondescript beers(
the blackberry wit had no taste of fruit , whatever) and
three which were okay, even good. When Jane ordered
a medium rare hamburger she was told that South
Carolina law prohibits burgers being served in that
fashion, so have it well done, thank you. Talk about Big
Government! Why the state legislature thinks it can tell
you how to eat your hamburger and then looks the
other way while it’s governor jets off to South America
to dally with an Argentinian bombshell on the taxpayers’
dime is beyond me. The Liberty was not a great beer
moment, but a beer moment, nonetheless.

After several days of downing Yuengling in the blazing
sun, I announced one morning that I had no intention
of popping the first top before 4:00 pm, In order to
better appreciate the Spaten Dunkel which I planned to
cleverly disguise in empty coke cans, surrounded a beer
koozie. All day the girls kept razzing me that I’d not be
able to hold out and even expressed admiration for my
willpower when I did. It was only after I received a phone
call from a fellow band member at 8:00pm, that I
realized something was not quite right. When I asked
him why he wasn’t at band rehearsal since it was 8:
00pm, he asked me what in hell I was talking about
since he just tuned in to the 6:00 o’clock news. The
smirks and giggling from the girls soon made me realize
I’d been had. I HAD waited till 4:00 o’clock by my watch,
but it had secretly turned ahead two hours while I was
diving through the waves. A good one at my expense,
but remember ladies, payback is a bitch!

A late afternoon ride to Pawley’s Island afforded a stop
at the High Hammock, a beautiful pavilion type outdoor
restaurant/bar. While perusing the tap handles a
gentleman seated next to me said, “Try the second
from the left. If you don’t like it I’ll pay for it”. With an
offer like that we had  already decided to hate it, but the
Nut Brown Ale from New South Brewing of Myrtle Beach
was so good that we couldn’t lie and had to pay for it
ourselves.

Turns out he was the father of David Epstein the owner
and brewer, who after a call from his father, made a
detour on his way home from work and stopped to have
a pint with us. His draught only beers have already won
three medals at the GABF and he was expecting delivery
of a canning line, so very soon any readers wishing to
bring home a case or two will be able to do so. If the
brown ale is any indication of overall quality, it’ll be well
worth it.

A small article in the Charleston Post and Courier
announced the 2nd annual Jimmy Brownlee Beer Bottle
Toss to be held to benefit needy families at nearby Folly
Beach. For five bucks you get to throw ten beer bottles
at trash cans. It seems rather expensive when you
consider that in some Jersey neighborhoods you can
throw all the bottles you want at vacant lots, the sides
of buildings and passing cars for no cost at all!

I had my own beer bottle toss after foolishly impulse
buying the worst beer I’ve ever tasted, Wild Blue. After
opening one and not finishing it and saving one with
which to torment the cask commissioners of DB 15,
with great pleasure I threw the remainder at my own
garbage cans without even opening them. I had placed
the sixpack in the shopping cart without closely enough
inspecting the label, figuring that blueberry lager would
be a nice alternative to the Hoegaarden. A closer look
would have revealed that this was an A-B product
brewed to an unbelievable 8% ABV, not exactly a beach
session beer. This stuff is PURPLE, tastes like some kind
of fizzy soda and will make you drunk in no time , if
finished. Maybe this is part of the marketing strategy. If
you’re three sheets to the wind, you can’t taste how
bad it is. Getting a sober beerfan to appreciate this crap
would be harder than Nancy Pelosi trying to win the
“Miss Congeniality” category in a beauty pageant!

A nice idea in South Carolina that I haven’t as yet seen
in the regulation happy state of New Jersey is a
distributor’s beer tasting offered at the retail outlet. On
one of my excursions to procure more CL’s for the
ladies, I inquired about the availability of Palmetto Beers,
which I fondly remembered from fifteen years ago. The
proprietor informed me that their capacity and demand
limits the distance they can be sold from Charleston,
but he deduced I was into craft beer and invited me
back for a free tasting a couple of days later. We
attended this great marketing idea, but the sales rep
hosting the tasting would have generated more sales if
she had read the expiry dates on some of the bottles
she pouring from, which were well over a year old. Bad
for the taster and bad for business.

The last brew of the trip was a long forgotten old
standby, Busch Bavarian, offered to me while I was
piping at the surf’s edge in the evening before our
departure by a slightly tipsy man who said he had
figured out why I always stood facing the ocean, ankle
deep while doing my nightly piping. He guessed that I
must have lost a loved one in a disaster at sea and I
was blowing ”Amazing Grace” in that direction to their
memory.  While  sipping the Busch Bavarian I said “No,
it’s not exactly that”.  Ankle deep was as far away as I
could get from the beachfront homes without ruining
my pipes with sea water. Some unenlightened people
still believe that the sound of the Great Highland
bagpipe is akin to stepping on a cat’s tail and I didn’t
want to offend them.

All in all it was great week, and I hope Sally and Jane
enjoyed it as much as I did. But they’d better watch
their backs for payback!






Cheers,

Dan
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