CHECK SIX BREWING COMPANY

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SOUTHPORT, NORTH CAROLINA

Settled into a quiet mall with three black steel porch tables and two picnic benches welcoming customers, CHECK SIX BREWING COMPANY gave North Carolina its southernmost brewpub in 2015. Just south of Wilmington in the Cape Fear region of Brunswick County, the family-run business began in 2015.

Inside the epoxy-floored red-brick pub are a constant flow of  famous wartime aircraft memorabilia, several hanging propellers, a large Check Six insignia and 2 TV’s. At the 10-stool wood bar are 20-plus tap handles to service a community table, several tables and front-walled counters.

Most of the homemade brews dabbled with stylistically hybridized originality and all were named after fighter pilot’s components and lingo.

For starters on this hazily humid Friday afternoon, August ’17, spritzy moderate-bodied German-styled Broken Prop Pilsner countered lemon-candied sugar wafer sweetness with mild hop astringency.

Just a tad more astringent, Gee Bee Honey Pale Ale brought mild honey-spiced fruiting to the fore over dry-hopped grain malts.

Raw-honeyed orange sourness and a ‘touch of pomegranate’  inundated mild crystal-malted Wendy’s Blonde Ale.

Bustling with rich flavor and a mild coconut adjunct, hybridized Flying Circus Coconut Hefeweizen allowed sour lemon-dropped banana-clove tartness, beechwood-smoked pilsner malting and honeyed Chardonnay tones to coexist (alongside a lemon custard tanginess).

Dewy dry-bodied Mc Elroy’s Irish Red Ale gained a tidy cherry-spiced whimsicality.  

Mild peppery heat guided Fox 2 Chipotle Irish Red Ale, a red and orange fruit-spiced medium body with mild earthen hop bittering.

In the same vein, gentle jalapeno peppering heated up lightly pale malted San Philipe Pub Lano Ale.

Dewy English malts gave Hat In The Ring IPA an earthen tone increased by herbal wood-toned hop seepage and countered by tangy grapefruit-orange-pineapple juiciness.

Floral-spiced Aerial Aggression Double IPA let dry-hopped citric juicing take the lead at the mildly bitter finish.

Nutty hop bittering centered Curtiss Jenny Brown Ale, a dry moderation with compost-like dewiness and charred walnut tones.

Nitro-like Wrong Way Corrigan’s Irish Stout brought cola-dried Band-Aid astringency to lemon-wedged black chocolate malting.

Dry cocoa-powdered Flight School Cocoweed Stout gained a light coffee-roasted black chocolate serenity.

Mild milk-creamed chocolate malts gave Dugan’s Chocolate Stout its brownie-fudged Mild Dud/Yoo-Hoo sweetness to contrast wispily  astringent hop-charred nuttiness.  

Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans led Harley Pope Imperial Porter to its oats-sugared hazelnut center and wood-smoked black chocolate finish.

www.checksixbeer.com

 

 

COASTAL CRAFT BEVERAGE CO.

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CALABASH, NORTH CAROLINA

Inside a small freestanding building previously used as a bank, COASTAL CRAFT BEVERAGE CO. popped up, August ’17, and serves as the first true beer pub in the North Carolina seaport town of Calabash.

Owned by former draught system technician-installer, Paul Engstrom, and his friendly fiancé, Beth Hutchins, this detailed boutique operation has already drawn many curious local customers and a host of beer-centric vacationers with its fine hand-selected bottled and canned selection (loaded with hard-to-find and rare local brews).

The gray-floored interior includes several refrigerators and shelves full of takeout offerings, several windowed seats, four tables and a turntable spinning Janis Joplin this Friday eve.

On my initial visit during Coastal Craft’s soft opening, I head to the wood-paneled serving station and grab a few previously untried beers.

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Alongside family dog, Roscoe, and wife, Karen, we head to the four-benched side patio (with beautiful flower-columned trellises) to consume enjoyable Lynnwood Grill ‘s Helluva Hefe and Kiss My Irish Stout as well as Four Saints Triad Alliance Tripel (all reviewed in Beer Index).

Brunswick County’s craft beer movement has just begun. Down the street, across the South Carolina border, Lowe’s Foods now has a Beer Den with 10-plus tap handles and fair local bottled-canned selections. And a few miles north, Southport’s Check Six Brewing became Brunswick’s first brewpub.

http://www.coastalcraftbeverageco.com/

GRUMPY MONK

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MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA

Open since 2014, Myrtle Beach craft beer haven, THE GRUMPY MONK, features some of Carolina’s best suds. Set beside Route 501 a few miles west of the beach, this copious freestanding restaurant highlights the surrounding mall-bound highway shops.

Grumpy Monk’s tall red-bricked entrance leads to a spacious right side sportsbar (with pristine granite-topped wood counter, brown fluorescent ceiling scape, multiple tap handles, various beer signs, several TV’s and sidled seating). Refreshing water-bubbled glass tanks separate the bar from the main left side dining area.

Specialty cocktails along with shareable soup, salad, sandwiches, sushi and burgers fill the menu while beer lovers will be delighted by the ever-changing draught selections.

My wife and I grab a few chairs underneath the partially covered front patio deck (with 25 tables) to consume seven previously untried brews with Hot Grandma (fried green tomato, Swiss-chedder cheese, bacon and aioli spice) during initial August ’17 lunchtime break.

Alongside South Carolinian faves such as River Rat Blueberry Lemon Wheat, Frothy Beard Watermelon Wheat, Coast HopArt IPA and Low Tide Reese’Ding Brown Ale were New York’s Three Heads Too Kind Double IPA, San Francisco’s Anchor Mango Wheat and North Carolina’s Check Six Dugan Stout (reviewed fully in Beer Index).

Arguably Myrtle Beach’s best beer bar, Grumpy Monk will surely not disappoint.

www.grumpymonkmyrtlebeach.com

 

MELLOW MUSHROOM – NORTH MYRTLE BEACH

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NORTH MYRTLE BEACH

With over 150 locations nationwide, the MELLOW MUSHROOM franchise began in Atlanta, Georgia during 1974. Bringing a family-friendly Alice In Wonderland-like atmosphere to a fun sportsbar, the zany restaurant chain specializes in stone-baked Southern pizza and drapes each of its franchises with eclectic art-fueled designs.

At the North Myrtle Beach location on Route 17 (visited August ’17) conglomerated car parts form a crazy mesh at the extravagant entranceway.

The colorful dining room sports several mushroom-affixed fishtanks, a private kids party room, a round-seated Boat section and sundry other delightful items.

The yellow wood paneled left side pub area features a large centralized bar with 50-plus taps and various liquors.

My wife and I sat at the covered side deck, where eight broad iron tables and seats serve outside patrons getting their last glimpse of today’s sunlight.

During our one-hour dinner stopover, quaffed North Charleston’s Holy City Pluff Mud Porter and Asheville’s Wicked Weed Lunatic Blonde (reviewed in Beer Index) while chowing down Bruschetta and Kosmic Karma (red-sauced pizza with a pesto swirl, sun-dried tomatos, spinach and feta-mozzarella cheese).

mellowmushroom.com

THE BIER GARDEN

German Food Portsmouth, VA

PORTSMOUTH, VIRGINIA

One of the most popular Portsmouth gastropubs, the generically-named BIER GARDEN offers authentic German and European food plus 25-plus taps and hundreds of craft beer bottles (listed in an intense cardboard notebook). Right in the heart of Olde Towne’s High Street just a few blocks from the Chesapeake Bay, this family-owned Bavarian restaurant opened during 1997 and quickly developed a loyal fan base.

A trellis-flowered front deck just down from the entryway patio leads to an open-air dining space sidling a covered outdoor deck and exquisite left side dining area.

The home-styled Bier Garden’s red brick foundation, bright blue window trimming and ever-present green plants immediately capture the eye.

An aged-in-the-wool accordionist plays Oktoberfest oom pah music as well as polka and Italian ballads for outside diners.

My wife and I chow down on vegetarian-styled Kase Spatzle (a German-noodled, Havarti-cheesed, onion-fried dish) and Jagerschnitzel (mushroom gravy-sauced pork-loin) this gorgeous Saturday afternoon, August ’17.

Since I’d already tried every German draught available today, I imbibe one terrific Kentucky ale – Goodwood Bourbon Barrel Stout (a creamily oak-toasted full body with dark-roast chocolate and silken vanilla sweetness fully reviewed in Beer Index).

All journeying beer lovers will enjoy this unique Bavarian-flavored destination.

http://www.biergarden.com

LEGEND BREWING DEPOT

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PORTSMOUTH, VIRGINIA

Inside a historic white stucco Town Hall featuring exquisite wood furnishings, Old World architecture and large Gothic archway columns, LEGEND BREWING DEPOT sits prominently alongside Portsmouth’s famous seawall. While the original Legend Brewing in Richmond built a solid reputation as one of Virginia’s longest lasting modern brewpubs (since 1993), its well-established brewmasters wanted to expand and hit the jackpot operating this refurbished “Olde Towne” Chesapeake Bay crown jewel.

Situated 90 miles east of Richmond and overlooking Norfolk, Legend’s satellite site sticks out like a rounded castle at the prime Portsmouth pier. Its pristine maroon-beige interior offers simple elegance and the spacious pier-side deck couldn’t be more majestic on this sunny Saturday afternoon in August (just days after the establishment opened).

I’d tried everything on the menu on a few Richmond trips, except one easygoing dark ale and a sassy li’l seasonal offering.

Sweet bourbon-whiskey wisps gathered subtle hazelnut-almond-praline illusions and tingly citrus-spiced hops above caramelized chocolate malting for dainty dandy, Bourbon Barrel Brown Ale (very popular amongst deck-bound quaffers this day).

As for crisply clean Z-Dam Summertime Ale, its zesty lime adjunct, refreshing ginger snap, distant lemony orange tang and fluttering chamomile subtlety created a bright sunshiny glaze for the lightly honeyed pale malt backbone.

www.legendbrewing.com