Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Czeching out Cola Town

Since the demise of the Flying Saucer I have been somewhat bereft of places to drink when I am in Columbia, SC visiting Mrs V's family. Having recently discovered the delights of the Cock n Bull, and with Bierkeller Columbia opening up their beer garden this autumn, things are decidedly looking up. One thing though that I have neglected when we go south is discovering the local breweries, beyond buying the occasional six pack at the shop. With summer holiday time winding down this past weekend, I resolved to put that right.

First stop on my planned itinerary was Columbia Craft Brewing, which from Google Maps would seem to be at the heart of an area with plenty of breweries to visit, including the package brewery for Columbia's oldest brewery, and a personal favourite of mine, Hunter Gatherer. I walked through the door, surveilled the situation, it was actually pretty packed outside, but relatively quiet inside, so I grabbed a seat and did something I very rarely do, ordered a flight.

Flights are not something I often do mainly because I am not convinced that you can really judge a beer's merits based on a few ounces of liquid. With my plan to visit a couple of other breweries though, I figured that a flight and a pint would be the way to go. My 4 choices then at Columbia Craft were:
  • Columbia Craft Lager - a 4.8% Munich style helles
  • Carolinian - a 4.7% American blonde ale
  • Pull - a 4.5% Czech style pale lager
  • Pint - a 5.6% English style "pub ale" - basically an ESB
I made the mistake of starting from the lowest abv beer...the 4.5% Czech style pale lager, which makes me assume it had a starting gravity of 10° Plato, a desítka. It was a mistake, because one mouthful in, I knew my plans to hit another couple of breweries that afternoon were in danger of being curtailed to perhaps one other brewery.

The other beers in the flight were all very good, but the pull of the Czech pale lager was too great, so I had a half litre, poured from a Lukr tap, and served in a Tübinger glass...

The first thing that hit me was unlikely many a US brewed pilsner poured on a Lukr tap, Pull didn't have a craggy head that towered over the rim of the glass. The head was nicely wet foam that sat on top of the liquid for the duration of the drinking, which to be honest wasn't particularly long, maybe 5 mouthfuls at best.

The star of the show though for me was the masses of delightfully spicy Saaz character bursting through the foam, both as aroma and flavour. With just a single decoction as part of the brewing, there were enough Maillard characteristics to fill out the body, making this anything but watery. This is a seriously, seriously nice beer.

Needless to say I didn't make it to any other brewery on Saturday afternoon and got myself a couple of crowlers of Pull to nurse through the evening. The next time I make it to Columbia, I expect that Bierkeller's beer garden will be open, this delight on tap, and with the Cock n Bull in which to watch footie, I will have plenty of options for places, and beers, to enjoy.

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