Sunday, September 23, 2007

Oktoberfest brews rule in Myrtle Beach area

Apparently, in the Myrtle Beach, S.C., area, most beer-drinkers love autumn.

Brewers at long-standing local breweries, including New South Brewing Co. and Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery, say their Oktoberfests are their best-selling seasonal beers.

Josh Quigley hopes to join the mix. He will unleash a high-gravity Oktoberfest brew Friday (Sept. 14) at his restaurant-brewery, Quigley's Plate and Pint in Pawleys Island.Quigley describes it as a "malty amber lager," smooth and slightly sweet, with about 7.5 percent alcohol by volume. (He also recently unveiled his Black River Stout, which he called a "typical dry Irish stout.")

New South's Oktoberfest gets double exposure. The hybrid of traditional Oktoberfest and American amber lager has about 5-6 percent alcohol, owner-brewer Dave Epstein said. He usually has a New South seasonal and a separate seasonal for T-Bonz Gill & Grille, for which he crafts signature beers. In the case of Oktoberfest, which Epstein and T-Bonz folks both say is their best selling seasonal, it's the same brew for both outlets.

In recent years, this would be the week Oktoberfest would show up at T-Bonz, Epstein said. This year, New South rolled out a special T-Bonz brew called Bitter Bonz Extra Special Bitter (ESB) between summer's Blonde Bombshell and autumn's Oktoberfest.

T-Bonz's folks expect Bitter Bonz to last right about until Oktoberfest goes on sale at T-Bonz locations on Sept. 20. Meanwhile, New South has already shipped a few kegs of Oktoberfest to local bars, Epstein said.

Epstein said New South might use Bitter Bonz as the basis for this year's winter seasonal at T-Bonz. He wanted to get Bitter Bonz, at 8 percent alcohol, out this summer following changes in state law that allowed more alcohol content in beer. Bitter Bonz has "gone over really well," he said. I'm not surprised. It reminded me of the outstanding English import Fuller's ESB, the original ESB.

Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery, at Broadway at the Beach, will have its Oktoberfest on tap Sept. 28, brewmeister Eric Lamb said. The amber lager, about 7 percent alcohol, is his best selling seasonal.

The late September tapping introduces a month-long Oktoberfest celebration. Each Saturday in October, Liberty will have Hans Schmidt's German Band performing (times vary, so call 626-4677 for the schedule on your preferred weekend). The big weekend Oktoberfest blow-out will be Oct. 19-21, when Liberty will feature a special menu and possibly some beer specials - still developing - along with extra performances by Hans Schmidt's German Band.

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