W hen you hear that things are heading south that’s usually not good. But when you hear soundbound and beer mentioned you need to think “that’s good.”
The Bee’s Knees had a Tap Takover Thursday night, May 29th, featuring 4 brews from Southbound Brewing Company out of Savannah. Southbound is the first production brewery since Prohibition.
Carly Wiggins, their marketing and sales director was on hand to talk to tasters and spread the good word about Southbound. Wiggins is also co-founder of Southbound. She and brewmaster Smith Mathews started brewing over a year ago and grown a market within a 200 mile radius of Savannah. There brews reach from Jacksonville to Augusta to Charleston. (United Distributing is handling the Augusta area).
Bee’s Knees had a special Brewed-ucation Flight for $7 that featured 5oz pours of four brews. They also provided suggested pairings from their menu for the brews.
While Mathews and Wiggins were attending Georgia Tech they worked at Sweetwater Brewing in Atlanta. They picked up lots of knowledge about brewing and the brewing business through all sorts of jobs at Sweetwater. Mathews eventually attended Seibel Institute of Technology and earned his International Diploma from the World Brewing Academy. That last bit helped him get a brewers job at Sweetwater.
He and Carly then moved to Charleston to help with a brewery startup. But that itch to have his own brewery was too much too quelch so Mathews and Wiggins teamed up to start Southbound. They produced 1,600 barrels their first year.
Their 6,000 barrel capacity brewery has two year-round brews along with several seasonal and one-offs that are popular with the restaurants that feature them…. That’s about the only place you’ll find them right now. 99% of their production is kegs. They hand-bottle some very special brews for special occasions or to capture a “taste point in time” such as their current experiment with a new brew that is aged in Napa oak wine barrels.
Their winter season was Moonlight Drive, an Imperial Coffee Stout. Another seasonal that’s coming is Clusterfly Farmhouse, a saison-style using a sour mash and will be aged in those Napa oak barrels. They will hand bottle some along the way so they’ll be able to later compare the flavor profiles as it ages.
For those who want to take some home without stopping at the neighborhood growler store will be glad to hear they should have a canning line by football season.
Their flag ship brew is the Hop’lin IPA. This is a East Coast style IPA (or “just left of East Coast Style” said Wiggins). It’s hoppy and light but doesn’t have that super strong bitter nature of a West Coast Style.
The Citra and Cascade hops are distintive in this brew or at least to my palate. It also has Magnum, Amarillo, Centennial, and Chinook hops which make this a nice brew with a strong hoppy aroma.
The name, like all of the names of their brews, have a musical tie. This one salutes Janice Joplin (Joplin /Hop’lin). The label (if you were lucky to see one) features a woman’s hand holding a microphone that has a hop bud as the mic.
They don’t filter or pasteurized their beer so you want to enjoy them within 90 days.
Their second flagship brew is the Scattered Sun Belgian Wit. It’s 5.2% and has only Magnum hops. This is one has coriander and citrus peel that gives it a bright, crisp, citrus flavor.
The Brewed-ucation flight started with special cask ale made for the occasion. It was a cask ale version of the Scattered Sun Belgian Wit that had been dry hopped with Cascade and Citra hops. They casked the Scattered Sun in a 5-gallon pin (seen in the photo at top) just after fermentation then added filter bags full of hops along with some sugar that will allow for a second fermtation and give a bit of effervescence. The true nature of a cask ale is that it does not have the carbonation that people expect in a beer. Gravity usually does the work here when pouring.
If you haven’t had a cask ale you would think this is a flat beer (If you’ve ever used a Mr. Beer kit this is what you get before you bottle it with some sugar). This is a brew that should be stored cold but served at room temparature. Serving it cold masks the nice aromas and flavors that the dry-hopping provides. This brew was light and full of flavor. Wiggins says “you can put just about anything in a cheescloth bag and put it in there to add to the flavor, even flower petals.”
Next was the Scattered Sun Belgian-Style Wit followed by the Hop’lin IPA . I loved both. The coriander and the orange peel gives the Scattered Sun a dominant flavor on top of its lighter but slightly creamer body. As for the Hop’lin I’m not a fan of West Coast Style IPAs. Way too bitter. This one has 65 IBUs but I would have guessed a lower numnber. The bitterness doesn’t overwhelm you. Grapefruit comes to mind when you taste it. I read the tasting notes and it mentioned Caramel Pine. That’s the flavor I was trying to pick out. Nice and refreshing.
The last brew of the line up was the Hurricane . A Belgian-Style Dark IPA. That’s not a category of brew you will find on a store shelf. It’s an accidental brew. This extremely dark copper-colored brew is loaded with dark roasted grains. That’s the problem. They were supposed to load it with un-roasted caramel malts. They changed up the yeast after realizing their mistake and decided to see what would happen. What happened is a dark brew that is not heavy and full of roasted flavors. The flavors at the start is what I describe as toasty and the finish is better described as roasty. But its not a heavy brew. “Just because it’s a dark beer doesn’t mean it has to be a heavy beer, ” said Wiggins.
I visited with one of the tasters, David, who is a self-described beer snob. He liked the Hurricane saying “it’s an unusual combination, almost like a Black IPA or a trippel”
They only have one batch of this brew, 30 barrels. Once it’s gone it’s gone. If you stop by Bee’s Knees soon you might be lucky enough to try it.
I spoke with Eric at Bee’s Knees and he hopes to have a special beer presentation on the last Thursday of each month. This presentation format, providing the beer lineup the entire evening with a brewery rep taking time to talk to the tasters, rather than a more formal sit down structured affair is a very friendly way to learn about new brews. I look forward to many more.
Author Bottle Report