Our newest Bitch Beer contributor, Lizzie, currently resides in New York City. But before she migrated north, she called Charleston home. In this Brewery Spotlight, she introduces us to South Carolina’s Westbrook Brewing…
Westbrook Brewing was founded by the husband and wife team of Morgan and Edward Westbrook in December 2010 in the Charleston, South Carolina suburb of Mount Pleasant. The duo seeks to provide the consuming public with interesting, hand-crafted brews that evoke a conversation regarding taste, scent and overall originality and they’ve done a damn good job.
With beers ranging from the highly sought after Mexican Cake to the signature White Thai, the Westbrooks know what they’re doing. With a 18,500 square foot facility, the brewery has aspirations to grow and in two short years they’ve accomplished just that. That’s nothing to shake a stick at when you take in to account that Westbrook Brewing started in a dorm room of a dry campus in Greenville, South Carolina. Edward knew at the first sip of a Guiness that he could create unique brews and that people would love them. An accomplished mixologist, according to wife Morgan, Edward was quick to combine unusual ingredients. Take the White Thai for example. The typical witbier is spiced with orange and coriander. After a night of delicious Thai food Edward had an idea. Why not try lemongrass and ginger? The formula is award winning and has been cited in many a publication. White Thai will have even the beer averse clamoring for more.
If it’s one thing that Edward and the team at Westbrook do best is innovate. They are constantly pushing their palates to experiment with different hop varieties. This past summer was no exception. Edward dabbled with a spot on pale ale recipe but each time he brewed it he showcased a different hop. He tried new strands from New Zealand and others that are generally harder to come by. The result was exciting. Each beer was similar yet had a unique sensibility. Westbrook had people begging to know when the next release would be. For us imbibers, I hope he continues with these experiments.
In keeping with that delicious pale ale vein, the signature and year round India Pale Ale rivals among the top IPAs in the country, according to serious hop heads. It’s a perfectly balanced combination of four hops added four times in the kettle and twice in the fermentor. The result is a complex hop experience that is not for the faint of heart. The ABV sits at 6.8% and with an IBU of 65, the experience on the tongue is sensational.
The Anniversary Series is what has serious beer drinkers talking, and trading. The Mexican Cake was released one year after the brewery opened and was celebrated at first sip. It is a strong 10.5% imperial stout with 50 IBUs. Edward ages the stout on cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, and wait for it, fresh habanero peppers! Don’t let that last ingredient frighten you. It offers just the right amount of kick at the end of the glass. Beware though, some people think the spice grows with each sip. For the annual and beloved Brewvival, put on by local retailer The Charleston Beer Exchange and local brewery, Coast, Edward decided to change it up slightly and add coffee beans. The result was a perfect breakfast brew with a nice big kick. It was hard to keep the libation flowing at the highly anticipated and celebrated event.
Beer enthusiasts are anxious to try what he will be offering this December. This Bitch Beer contributor already knows it won’t be another Mexican Cake but fear not! It’s sure to hit the market again. It is not forgotten.
Another exciting aspect to Westbrook Brewery is the Barrel Room. It is here that beers enter babies and exit full grown humans. Edward and Morgan have procured red and white wine barrels from highly regarded wineries, Jack Daniel barrels and apple brandy barrels, to name a few. The wine barrel tripel series offered up some mighty fine brews. The tripel was put into three different barrels: Pinot Noir, Malbec and a hefty Cabernet Sauvignon. The result were three beer with three different fantastic wine notes. The ABV hovered at 8.5% and was delightful. These beers had some serious wine legs! Another barrel aged beer was the Brett and No Mices. This was a ten month barrel aged and dry hopped Belgian style pale ale. The Bretanomyces yeast gave it a satisfactory funk and the barrel aging provided a nice oak character. These, naturally, were all limited release and did not stick around the shelves long. Be sure to check the brewery’s facebook page to learn when the next barrel release is. It sure will not disappoint.
Westbrook Brewery can be a brewery characterized as innovative. While the brewery does bottle limited release beers, it cans the old stand-by year round offerings, White Thai and IPA. Marked by whimsical yellow and green cans, these beers aren’t your typical canned offerings. Of that much, you can be sure. If you have a pre-disposed bias against cans throw it out of the window. New linings help preserve the taste of the beer lending it’s profile to taste just as fresh as it does out of the bright tank. Cans are also more eco-friendly. You can crush up the can and toss it into the recycling bin. It also is more practical because there’s no risk of light damage, a constant threat to delectable beer. Cans are also easier to take out on the boat, the beach or picnic, an ever present option in sunny Charleston, SC. Many craft breweries are going the way of the can and they aren’t to be passed by any longer. We have innovation to thank for that.
In a word, Westbrook is unique and not in your eccentric Aunt Betty type of way. It is unique in its offerings, taste profile and approach to craft beer. The husband and wife team will be around for a long time to come with the previously mentioned trifecta. They are big on the local scene and are constantly involved in beer and food pairings, something happening almost weekly in the foodie city of Charleston. They’ve done high end dinners to a good old fashioned burger dinner. They take both equally seriously. Westbrook, along with the other craft breweries on the scene, has done an amazing job on elevating the status of beer drinker. It’s no longer just something that quenches your thirst and gives you a buzz. Beer drinkers are just as sophisticated as wine drinkers and the beers may be aged just as long as the wines. That’s not to say that amateurs can’t love a good craft brew either. That’s the beauty of beer; it’s accessible to the masses. And the masses are in love with Westbrook Brewery. Keep up the good work, Morgan and Edward!
-Lizzie Boyle, Contributing Writer