On select Sundays throughout the year I drape a red and yellow scarf across my shoulders, pull up player stats on my phone, and settle in for a booze-fueled brunch in front of a TV. You see, I've married a soccer fan (specifically, an Arsenal fan) and this is part of my life.
When my husband (his name is Chris, we'll call him Chris) and I first met he mentioned something about soccer. "Oh, you play?" I worried immediately about the logistics of dating a man who played recreational sports. Chris does not play soccer. He watches soccer. He introduced me, very soon into our courtship, to how exactly one watches soccer. You go to a bar at 10 a.m. on a Saturday or Sunday. You order a full English breakfast (or something equally greasy and amazing). And you drink beer. How could you not marry into that?
After a stint at My Father's Moustache in Mt. Pleasant, the Charsenal folks now watch their games at Edmund's Oast Brewing Co.
Sometimes I meet Chris (and the whole Charsenal gang) at EOBC after a Sunday morning yoga class. What is it about walking into a surprisingly packed bar on a Sunday, post yoga, that fills me with hope? Maybe it's endorphins. More likely, though, it's the promise of what's to come. I sidle up to the bar, Chris hands me the scarf he brought for me, and I peruse the draft list.
I order a beer.
The thing about EOBC's draft list is that it's great. It's varied, it's usually pretty long, and it's freaking full of sour beers.
Sour Blackberry Raspberry. Sour Bradford Watermelon. Sour Cherry Pineapple. Sour Flower. Sour Oak Aged Cherry. And that's just on a recent visit. A lot of breweries in town have some version of a sour beer; Revelry has an entire building, The Hold, dedicated to mouth puckering brews. And I love all of those — I loathe playing favorites with all of the great beer in town.
But EOBC is where we watch soccer on Sunday mornings. And of all the great beer, these could be the greatest.
The consistency! The mouthfeel! The balance! Last weekend I tried the Sour Oak Aged Cherry for the first time. "Oh my gosh!" I exclaimed, lost in the beauty. The people around me had their eyes on the TVs over the bar — this was a game "we" were suppposed to lose and we were doing pretty well. The lack of goals scored by the opponent was cause for excitement. This beer, though, was cause for celebration.
I've loved sour beers since I first realized that you could drink something, well, sour that had alcohol in it. Simple, really. I've been sipping on pickle juice since I was a kid. Did that foretell my foray into the world of sour beers? Perhaps. More likely, though, it was the availability of sour brews in Charleston and a palate that evolved with every sip.
You can snag EOBC four packs, including those of the sour variety, at the restaurant. I remember, distinctly, taking a four pack to a party, bragging about the newly released flavor. Several friends sipped the beer and immediately passed it back: "Too sour!" Some though, were surprised, startled, and elated to have found a sour beer they could stomach. I do my part when I can, and you should, too.
Valentine's Day is a day of love for a partner, a friend, a family member. But more importantly, it's a day to love yourself. And I know exactly how you should proceed.
Go to EOBC. There probably isn't a soccer game this Thursday, but pretend it's playing and you're surrounded by dedicated fans. Sit at the bar and order one of those aforementioned sours; Sour Flower is a great choice if you're looking for something a little hoppier, and the Sour Cherry Pineapple is surprsingly light and fresh.
Go ahead and get the wings because you'll regret it if you don't. I'd recommend balling out with loaded crispy potatoes — self-love, y'all — but the blackened catfish sandwich, veggie burger, and butcher plate are all good choices, too.
Life can be rough sometimes. Sometimes your soccer team loses and your husband is feeling down and you maybe ate too many crispy potatoes and the day seems to be going downhill. But then you take a sip of something really good — something that you know was made with care and thought, something that's tied to some of your best memories in recent years. And life's not all that bad. You met a guy a few years ago who introduced you to these early morning celebrations; you were lucky enough to marry him. You snagged a lifelong Valentine, down that very path of A.M. beers, full English breakfasts, and more Arsenal swag than the average fan would ever need.
This love is about more than sour beers, sure. But they sure as hell don't hurt. Cheers to whatever love looks like to you this Valentine's Day.