Tailgating at River Rat

Wow, it’s almost the end of November and I’m just now blogging again.  A lot going on in the Buchanan household.  Basketball has started (we’re 0-1-1, yes we tied a team last night we should have beaten) and I’m way behind on mix pack reviews, so I’m going to throw a few reviews in here of some beers I’ve never even mentioned before.  I’ll go back after Thanksgiving and see what I missed and buy them again if I liked them and then review them.  Deal?  Deal.
First up, I want to talk about my favorite Oktoberfest of the season.  It’s a shame most of them are off the shelves in favor of Winter beers now, as Thanksgiving in my not so humble opinion is the quintessential pumpkin holiday.  Maybe it’s because my beloved makes the most delicious pumpkin pie on the planet, but it’s just how I feel.  If you’ve paid any sort of attention to the blog (and if you haven’t, click here, here, here, and here) you know that we are big fans of River Rat, one of the local breweries here in Columbia.  They just brew quality beers that taste great.  Above you’ll see their Oktoberfest.  Kendall and I went to Craft and Draft a few weeks ago for a little….SALEabration and they had this on tap.  Of course we had to try it right?  It checks in at 6.6% ABV and is a beautiful amber color with a nice foamy head.  It’s pumpkin flavoring is subtle and it lingers in a good way as you drink the beer.  A lot of Oktoberfests, even some of the good ones, I can only drink one or two before I want to move on to another beer.  This one is not the case.  We had several, I drank the rest of Kendall’s, and then we filled our growler up, and drank it in a day.  I even drank one the night before my endoscopy which, according to my nurse, was not the smartest idea in the world.  But you know what?  I live in the moment and when there is a growler of delicious Oktoberfest sitting in the fridge you simply do not not drink it.  Well done River Rat as usual!
That brings me to the title of this blog post.  This past Saturday, my old friend, groomsman and college/post-college roommate Tim came into town to spend the weekend with us.  He brought several outstanding craft beers with him that I’m going to review tomorrow, but what I wanted to write about today was our trip to River Rat to tailgate.  I should have taken more pictures, but unless Kendall is around to remind me to do so I generally don’t take a lot of pictures.  Unless it’s of Riggins doing something.  I probably have 1000 pictures of Riggins on my phone.  Anyway, we didn’t pick the best game to go tailgate somewhere, as virtually nobody was excited about playing Western Carolina.  Tim even said himself that he picked the most frustrating game because 2/3 possibilities of the game (win close, lose, or win big) were negatives because Western Carolina.  And yes, we got the close win.  To start, we had lunch at Thirsty Fellow and ate some of the best wings you can find in Columbia.  I started off with a Palmetto Pilsner and Tim had a Westbrook IPA and both paired nicely with our wing/pizza combo.  I think Kendall was drinking an Allagash White but I don’t remember.  We also had some delicious Gorgonzola chips that our server suggested we top with some bacon.  He earned a little extra on his trip for that brilliant suggestion.  We then departed for the fairgrounds where I parked in the wrong spot and thankfully did not get towed and made our way over to River Rat.  There wasn’t a big crowd there, but let’s face it, there wasn’t a big crowd anywhere on Saturday.  Willy B had large pockets of open seats.  But the lack of crowd didn’t matter, as the environment there was pretty cool.  There was a nice couple with the most well behaved dog I’ve ever seen that just chilled the entire time while they played cornhole on one of the multiple cornhole sets they have.  Tim and I hung out on one of the covered benches watching the Michigan State/Ohio State game that Sparty could have and probably should have won.  The covered area is really cool as on the other side of the flat screen TVs they have a pull down projector screen where they host movie nights.  Tim and I both started off with the Pilsner, and, I mean, why wouldn’t you start off with their award winning beer right?  From there he moved on to the 803 IPA and I went with the Kolsch (pictured).  Up until the Oktoberfest, their Kolsch was my favorite of all the beers.  We reloaded one last time before we attempted (unsuccessfully) meet up with our buddy McNeil and I went to the Broad River Red while Tim stuck with the IPA.  We went inside to close out and I was able to meet the King Rat Daddy himself, Mike Tourville.  Mike could not have been a nicer guy and I really enjoyed talking with him.  You can tell they appreciate their customers and do business the right way.  This is a brewery that is going to go a long way as they keep churning out good beer after good beer.  At the end of my chat with Mike I let him know that I wrote this blog and he let me know he is a big fan.  It’s greatly appreciated Mike as I’m a big fan of River Rat!  My own mom may not read this blog very often, but it’s nice to hear that a brewer does.  Mike gave me a bumper sticker which I plan on adding to my collection in Aiken (yes, I collect bumper stickers) as we make our way down there for Thanksgiving.
Speaking of Thanksgiving (that’s a weird filter isn’t it?), that box above is coming with us to Aiken for the second craft beer family taste test.  As you know from Momma’s birthday I promised another test and we are going to do it.  I went to Vino Garage at lunch and picked up some beers for it.  I got a six pack of Fatty’s because outside of it being awesome I’m hoping drinking beer made by a Clemson fan will bring bad luck to Clemson this weekend.  I didn’t do a great job of picking out beers for the taste test, so I asked Doug for a little help.  I did pick one out myself in case we decide to do two taste tests, but they break down as follows:
Doug’s Suggestions:
1.  Narragansett Lager
2.  Allagash White
3.  Oskar Blues IPA
4.  Victory Helles Lager
5.  Founder’s All Day IPA
6.  Northcoast Blue Star Wheat
My picks:
1.  River Rat Pilsner (duh)
2.  River Rat Kolsch (duh x2)
3.  Farmer Ted’s Cream Ale (#grillinbeer)
4.  Dale’s Pale Ale (the GOAT)
5.  Anchor California Lager (never had it)
6.  Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale (smooth)
He also hooked me up with a Westbrook 2 Claw which I guarandamntee you Kendall will end up drinking.  We love One Claw so I’m sure we love this one as well.  If she drinks it, she may or may not blog about it.  We must guilt her into this.  Kendall also has a blog from our latest trip to Twisted Spur she will eventually publish sometime in 2019.

I’ll be back tomorrow to review the beers Tim brought in town and Riggo will bring some Thanksgiving football picks sure to be wrong.  Until then,



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