The magic factory known as Westbrook Brewing Company.

Waiting on Westbrook (and a Monster Flight at Moon River Brewing Co.)

Traveling for a day trip to the Hostess City of the South, I wasn’t entirely familiar with breweries in the area. I knew of some from the Atlanta area that made our pre-departure list, but those are all nearly three and a half hours away and we are likely heading that way anyway in a few weeks to visit friends so those don’t make a whole lot of sense. Instead, I popped onto the this handy tool from CraftBeer.com and plugged in Savannah and after a little further research on the results, I decided Moon River Brewing Company looked like a perfect spot for an afternoon beer in this charming town.

Moon River Brewery's Facade
Moon River on hoppin’ W. Bay Street in Savannah, GA.

Located just off the riverwalk area,  Moon River is perfectly located for the tourist or townie alike.  Unfortunately, because of inclement weather, the patio was closed so Jackson couldn’t join us. Ashley offered that she’d skip this flight and I could meet up with her after. Little did I know that ordering a flight meant they give you a 4 oz pour of literally every beer on the menu… After looking bewildered for a moment I realized the couples seated at the bar around me were not having their own flights but rather sharing a single order!

My notes aren’t the greatest from this stop given the volume of beer, but I’ll do my best. The four year-round brews are the Yoga Pants Pale Ale, a much more subdued palate than what I was expecting but maybe that’s where the name comes from? Wild Wacky Wit is a great representation of the style: opaque with heavy wheatiness with a noticeable presence of orange zest. Swamp Fox American IPA was one of my favorites with prominent notes of earthy pine intermingled with citrus rind, a very solid hoppy brew. Captain’s Porter presents very mild roasted malt and chocolate notes, but was not particularly pronounced enough in depth for my tastes. Boo Hag Black IPA is the first of the seasonal beers, and was nice for sure but suffers from the problem I tend to have with black IPAs, a bit of an identity crisis. The dark roasted malts compete too much with the floral hops to complicate things, but the end result is still something I am happy to drink, just not my first choice. Taterlicious is a fun twist on the classic fall fruited brew, replacing pumpkins with South Carolina sweet potatoes. Bringing the sweet potato pie versus pumpkin pie battle to beer is pretty genius and I think I give the nod to this version. Sweet but balanced, toasty with comforting mouthfeel; this may have been my favorite of Moon River’s offerings, I just wish they 86’ed the unnecessary and distracting brown sugar rim. Savannah Fest is the brewery’s take on the classic Oktoberfest marzen beer, but I didn’t think it quite lived up to the warm, toasty malt flavors I expect from the style. Ogeechee Riverkeeper Ale was an interesting beer brewed with locally sourced ginger and honey: a sweet but pleasant beer, this one was also a standout for me just for its uniqueness. Sweet and spicy but not overbearing or overwrought, just a really nice beer. Not something I’d reach for every day, but still an awesome vessel for showcasing some regional ingredients and creativity. The final taster was Pitmaster’s Pride, a dunkel smoked at a local BBQ joint, but as is the case with most smoked beers I was not a fan. Smoky is a workable flavor for me when it’s coming from the malts, but actual smoked beers tend to taste like nothing but ash and charcoal to me, which to my palate is just not pleasing.

Holy cow that's a lot of beer!
The whole shebang flight at Moon River Brewing!

And no, I didn’t drink this all by my lonesome. I called Ashley, told her what happened, and we did a mid-flight tag out with me taking a handoff of Jackson’s leash.

Our next stop was Charleston, South Carolina and that meant a much anticipated visit to Westbrook Brewing Company. Ever since a friend gave me a can of their gosé  a few years ago I knew if I was ever in the area I’d have to make the trip to the taproom. After a lovely day in town we headed over to Mount Pleasant and got to the parking lot about 15 minutes before opening on a weekday. Another man was also there waiting and he commented, “I wonder if this is a first?” – somehow, I doubt it.

Westbrook Brewing Company
Our view while waiting for the doors (and taps) to open.

When that magic hour hit and we got let in we were pleased to find out Jackson was welcome inside the modern chic taproom to sit with us, “as long as he’s cool”. That was the actual quote from the very friendly and helpful beertender. I hope Jackson fits the bill (who am I kidding, I know he does)! Picking  a flight here was extremely difficult as there’s so many beers that all sound incredible. My first choice was the Lemon Cucumber Gosésince I was such a big fan of their base goes and cucumber + citrus + gin is basically my favorite cocktail. I loved this beer, though Ash who isn’t as fond of cukes as me was less thrilled. It is beautifully tart and citrusy up front and then finishes with heavy notes of the green veggie with a hint of salt. The next beer is the Triple Double Kriek Style and WOW! Luscious cherry sweetness drips over an earthy. woodsy undertone with a sour kick to really bring this brew into the third layer of depth and deliciousness. The third beer is the Cinnamon Pecan Cookie Stout and holy smokes does this brew hide its massive 11% well while tasting just like its namesake! Pastry stouts are often hype machines and sometimes I think they’re just imbalanced, sugar and spice bombs, but this stout manages to maintain its character as a beer while intertwining nutty, cinnamony sweetness. Our fourth pick was going to be the Scotch Barrel Aged Siberian Black Magic Panther but our beertender suggested that Scotch flavor was extremely aggressive on this iteration and suggested unless we love the spirit to try a different offering: on that advice we chose the Kentucky Style Coffee Stout on nitro tap, another 11% stout, which is more perceptible than its cookie cousin but still balanced and mellow enough to not cause any burn. This is a well balanced, bittersweet brew that has nice undercurrents of bourbon barrels and coffee while still being approachable to folks who aren’t into in your face big beers. Our friendly and amazing host also offered us a little pour of the Black Magic Panther in fear that he’d scared me off a beer I wanted and man was he not lying; this beer is PEATY! Notes of charred wood, earthy grass, and booze. I really liked this one as it reminded me of a very nice, mellow Scotch but Ash was a bit overwhelmed by it. 

Westbrook Brewing Beer Line Up
One of the best flights of my life!

Then I saw it. One of them thar whalez bro on sale in bottle. I had to have it. So I did.

Amazing pastry stout beer from Westbrook Brewing Company
That $$$ Mexican Cake, though!

Until next time our fellow beer nerds, hop heads, malt mavens, yearners for yeast, Ahabs, and brew barons! And remember to support independent breweries wherever you can and #seektheseal!

#seektheseal

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