COAST recently installed new equipment for filling, capping, and labeling two of their most popular beers into 22-ounce amber glass bottles. Previously, their most popular styles were only available on draft at local restaurants and by growler from a few specialty shops.
It took several trial runs for brewers David Merritt and Jaime Tenney to work out a few kinks, but the operation is now running smoothly. Currently, COAST bottles two of their signature varieties — the golden-colored 32/50 Kölsch ale and hoppy, amber-colored HopArt IPA.
"We'll probably add another store or two soon, as long as we know we can fully supply the two stores we have now," says Tenney. "It is definitely a big step up from what we've been doing. It's not by hand, although we're doing hand-labelling and hand-dating. The machinery purges the CO2, fills the bottle, and caps the bottle. We can do two bottles every 38 seconds. We're bottling once a week, and each session takes about 10 hours."
The brewery partnered with local design house Fuzzco to create the colorful labels for the Kölsch and HopArt IPA bottles (the Kölsch features skulls and bones over Charleston and Cologne). The new bottles are currently available at Whole Foods Market and at the Charleston Beer Exchange (the shop has a small run of COAST's seasonal Rye Knot Brown ale on hand as well).
"There are big advantages to bottling," says Tenney. "Plus, the labels are so nice, and they really say what we're about. A lot of people have been drinking our beer for the last two years, but they've never seen our logo, or any materials about us. When they see these labels, they'll have a better feel for what we're doing."
The next COAST specialty on the horizon is a smoked porter made with cherry wood-smoked malt — a malty, almost-black ale at 5.8 a.b.v. with a "smooth but rounded" smoke character. Tenney says that the smokiness is more subtle and palatable than the harsher, Beechwood-smoked lagers of Bavaria ("rauchbier"), and more similar to that of the famous Alaskan Smoked Porter (from the Alaskan Beer Co.). See coastbrewing.com for more.