By Jeffrey Gredlein
The Beer Snob

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jeffrey gredlein beer snobIf you haven’t bought tickets for this year’s Brewvival on Saturday, Feb. 23, you may want to stop reading now because it’s already sold out. Seriously, if you’re a beer fan and didn’t buy your ticket early this year, the following paragraphs will likely only serve to make you cry.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Charleston has, quite quickly, become one of the best beer spots in the southeast. Up and coming breweries, great beer bars, and one of the best small beer events in the country in Brewvival are an extremely solid resume for such a small town. We’re lucky to have these options. And Brewvival is a unique showcase for some of the best brewers in the country to bring out their specialties.

From California to Texas, Colorado to New York, Michigan to North Carolina, and even Belgium, beers and brewers will descend on North Charleston for this year’s version of what I’ve called the best small-scale beer festival in the country. But, given the parameters of the occasion and the novel brews to be had, Brewvival may be one of the best fests in the USA.

To begin, here are a few suggestions for festival enjoyment:

1.) Pace yourself. It’s a six-hour event. Don’t expect to try each and every beer. Don’t get one sample and jump in line for the next before you have even tried the beer in your glass. Use classic beer rating guidelines: look at it, smell it, sip it, think about it.

2.) Plot out your plan of attack. Some beers will have specific tap times. Make notice of those. Other beers will kick early, so put those higher up on your list.

3.) Generally I skip the beers I’ve had previously. Dogfish Head’s Burton Baton is a fantastic brew, but I’ve had it dozens of times. Save your tastebuds and your beer awareness for new items.

4.) Have some food, drink some (lots) of water. This will stretch out the day, enjoy it to the fullest. Don’t be the guy or girl passed out in a chair at 2 p.m., or vomiting in a porta-john after an hour of raging at the taps!

I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s discuss what to expect at this year’s event. At press time, Brewvival lists more than 125 beers available at the festival, with no doubt more to come. Looking over the list, and aside from the ‘mystery beers,’ here are a few that caught my eye.

Holy City’s Belgian Blackish Brown Imperial Strong Dark IPA Waffel, Holy What? I don’t know if this will be the hit of the fest, or the beer that got all the leftovers at the brewery, but I can’t wait to try it! A sour version Evil Twin’s Lil’ B, a Baltic porter aged in brandy barrels might be tremendous. Bell’s Batch 9,000, already an Imperial stout brewed with molasses, gets a barrel aging for its third birthday … wow.

Festivals like this are a good place to catch the new trends in craft brewing. Ten years ago it was imperial. Five years ago barrel aging. For the last several years it’s been sour. You will find numerous examples of all three fashions, but there seems to be a cherry bent this go round.

Highland’s famous Mocha Stout gets a barrel aging and a dose of cherry, nice. Thomas Creek’s Up the Creek double IPA brewed with black cherries and pink peppercorns could be a real sweet spicy treat. Terrapin brings a barrel aged version of Wake n Bake coffee oatmeal imperial stout brewed with cherries; I suggest it for breakfast. Speaking of which, eat a big breakfast before Brewvival, it’s going to be a long, wonderful day of beer. Enjoy the brews … Cheers.

Gene's Haufbrau has at more than 200 beers in bottles or on tap. While they don't have every beer the Beer Snob writes about, they probably have most. Gene's is located at 817 Savannah Hwy. 225-GENE. E-mail the Beer Snob at