Our mission: to help in the transition from drinker of quantity to drinker of quality. Along the way, we'll have some laughs, or someone's catching heck. Prolly me.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pub Review: Carolina Ale House

The Carolina Ale House
113 South Main St.
Greenville, SC 29601
One of the newest additions to a bustling and competitive downtown Greenville establishment of imbibery, at first glance, the Carolina Ale House looks like the new hot chick in your 8AM Brewpub 101 class. Her figure is well endowed with two full floors of real estate while her wide open floor to ceiling glass eyes lure you seductively with full seats of happy tipplers and beer signs with sexy neon letters that don’t spell Coors or Miller. Her fine ass sits smack in the middle of Main Street, a cannon shot away from the beautifully manicured Falls Park and a slingshot away from the historic Westin hotel where my white (and decidedly less fine) ass was staying. Her perfume is rich and sour, the familiar and ubiquitous eau de microbrew. From the outside, she’s stacked. You’d hit it, no questions asked. But as we all know, the hotties aren’t always as balanced on the inside. 

The first pangs of schizophrenia strike with the copious sports memorabilia. If you are familiar with the South’s vampiric thirst for college ball, the strategically agnostic dispersal of Clemson, Furman and USC banners, pics and autographed jerseys really should come as no surprise. But it just feels slightly off when staring down the barrel of 40 plus taps of varied suds. Nothing wrong with sports bars or brewpubs, but the two together feel a bit like a peanut butter and mayo sandwich or a Jay-Z /Barbra Streisand mashup (BarbrHOVA to the Iz-Ay, uh huh- just doesn’t work, does it?). But décor melange alone does not a night of beer drinking ruin, eh lads? On to the pints.

The beer menu spans an eclectic volume with a nice concentration of localish brews like Sweetwater Brewing Company and Thomas Creek. I began with Atlanta’s own Red Brick Laughing Skull. I was not disappointed with this palatable amber. It has a nice hoppy base, warm red glow and a crisp finish. Unusually paralyzed by the myriad choices, I floundered for my second (and third) brew and fell upon one of my all time favorites. Franziskaner Hefe-Weizen. Franz is one of those brews that I get so excited about when I see it on the menu I quickly order a pint, total squirrel instinct taking over (I've even been known to store one in a dark nook near the table at the first sign of danger). Then after a few, I reflect that I drink it pretty often, it's not that rare a find and I should probably stray off the reservation more frequently for variety's sake. Honestly though—one look at my fave fat, stein-hefting monk is just too much and I am wrapped back in the comfort of his Schafherde with the quickness. If you can tell him nein, you are a better man than me.

De rigeur for most of my roving travels, I have no idea of the individual pint cost. The corporate teat on which I roll has its advantages, and not worrying about beer prices while visiting customers is among them. But I will say this. We were probably 8 or 10, we drank for a good two to three hours replete with a round of Flaming Dr. Pepper shots and the bill miraculously came to $118 before tip. So they are doing something right because that drinky-drink episode in NY or Boston would have had registered easily triple the damage.

The waitstaff was fine—a little more attention would have likely yielded a larger tab (and probably another round of ill conceived shots, so I guess I thank them)—but given the busy night, this is easy to forgive. I’m not sure if the joint ever rocks live music, but that addition would have absolutely nudged a good night to great.

I got home from the trip and decided to do a little research to finish off the review. It was with a little more than a little chagrin to learn that CAH was a chain, albeit regional. I don’t know if it’s more disappointing to learn this or the fact that I didn’t figure it out sooner from the hamfisted clues given. With that we close on a slightly contemplative note—which is the more egregious sin—corporate chain cheese or the emulation of cheese? Stay punk rock as long as you can, indie pub owner, for the love of Baccus.


  1. A pleasure to read, though your monk-love makes me a tad uncomfortable. I too find sadness in the word "chain" attached to "ale", but it sounds like a fine time nonetheless. Cheers to you, Brew Radley.

  2. Welcome aboard Brew! I'm excited to see where your Stumbles take us.

  3. For a chain, CAH compensates for mediorce selection with a great view and crowd. (Barley's or Trappe Door are better for beer.) I've been willing to put up with it until tonight they double charged me and my boyfriend, insisting we had SIX pints of high gravity EACH in three hours. Dude, if this was the case, we would have been on the floor!

    They had a shift change and screwed up the bill. They charged us double for the 3 beers we actually did have. I am a regular there 2 or 3 times a week. I never drinks six beers!! But the staff and manger argued with me tonight and insisted we did.

    They also lied. The manager said he poured us three beers and another guy poured us three. Actually two of the three beers we did each have had been poured by a guy working the shift before. We didn't have 6 beers apiece, and we certainly didn't have 8!!

    This is not the first service problem I've had at Alehouse. And both times towing the company line has been more important than treating the customers with respect. As loyal customers and fans of the restaurant, this was an incredibly insulting experience. Any restaurant who trains their staff to lie, shame, and embarrass loyal regulars does not deserve to be in business.