My adoration for Westbrook Brewing beers has been previously documented, but because the Mt. Pleasant, SC-based brewery doesn’t ship near me in North Carolina, it’s a rare opportunity that I’ll get my hands on a bottle or two.
So I was lucky to recently get my hands on three.
I’ve mentioned before how this was a brewery to watch out for. The time may have already come for Westbrook in South Carolina, but wherever you catch them, don’t hesitate to stop and sample early and often. Here are a few of their offerings I was lucky to taste and you’d be so lucky to find if they still exist in someone’s cellar or fridge:
This is the second offering from Westbrook’s “Bearded Farmers” series. Their first, Hughey, was amazing and had I not been forced to fight against McCullough’s insane amount of carbonation, this beer would have topped it.
That said, the immense amount of foam flowing out of my glass was the only thing to complain about.
This farmhouse-style saison is like a boozy cupcake, with aromas of sweet banana, sugar and honey billowing from its intense carbonation. There’s just a little pepper-spice bite thanks to the inclusion of rye and three different kinds of peppercorns.
McCullough was fermented with three different strains of Brettanomyces, a wild yeast that offers just enough barnyard funk to make the beer a little tart, but never sour.
The qualifications over what makes a proper American session beer may be debatable, but I’ll be damned if this beer shouldn’t be a part of the conversation.
At 3.4 percent ABV, Gratzer (pronounced “grate-sir”) is a true session-style. While it’s historically an ale, it is clear as day like any translucent pilsner. Made with 90 percent oak-smoked wheat malt, there’s no missing the taste of smoke from this beer.
Smokey flavor is aggressive to the point where it’s impossible to miss, but light enough that even a sensitive palate shouldn’t be completely turned off.
Typically, this style of beer is made with an IPA-level amount of hops, but you may not notice them aside from a little earthy/floral smell. Smoke is what you want and smoke is what you’ll get with this.
What impressed me most was how truly refreshing this beer was. I sipped at it while sitting outside in the sun, a perfect setting for this brew.
Cap’n Skoon’s Ballistic Stout
Made as Westbrook’s second anniversary beer, this 10 percent behemouth reminded me a little of the Westbrook-Evil Twin collaboration, Mini Growler Stout, although not nearly as sweet.
Skoon’s booze profile is a bit heavy in the aroma and can’t be missed. There’s chocolate and cinnamon in there and just a hint of tobacco.
On the tongue, Skoon tastes of very bitter chocolate with a leathery dryness that left my mouth feeling a little taxed after half a bottle. That said, the aroma really helped to carry me through because it smelled so damned good. The bitterness is robust, but jabs of an espresso flavor make it pleasant.
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac