By Bobby Bush
I first met David Fowlkes at the 1997 Southeastern Microbrewers Invitational in
Durham, NC. As head brewer for Vista Brewing in Columbia, SC, he offered one of the
most distinctive beers at the fest that year. Fowlkesí Belgian Dubel was strong and sweet,
as true to Belgian style as can be made under the Carolinasí arcane alcohol regulations.
As was his brew, David was unusually outgoing and friendly, enthusiastically encouraging
everyone to try his tempting brews.
His stint at Vista did not last long after the Springtime festival and he temporarily
found himself working in Florida, migrating eventually to Charleston Beer Works, a
homebrew supply house on the SC coast. Ever the busy body, he lent a helping hand,
when needed, at T-Bonz brewpub in Mount Pleasant and nearby micro Palmetto
Timing was right for moving on when the position of head brewer opened up in
North Myrtle Beach. David jumped at the chance, in March Ď98, to take over for original
Mad Boar Restaurant & Brewery kettle master Don Lynch. Mad Boar has been the
blessed benefactor of his brewing creations ever since.
Working with a well-designed 16 barrel brewing system, Mad Boar produced
about 500 barrels of beer in 1998. The plantís capacity is 1,500 bbl. Though the seasonal
nature of this seaside town greatly restrict brewing activity in the dreary winter months,
Fowlkes has not let the summertime light beer touristy atmosphere affect his creativity one
bit. On this late December visit, we found seven exemplary brews. Even his Rootin
Raspberry Wheat (the style long the victim of koolaid sweetness), pleasantly sour, belying
its sweet aroma. Potent with Saaz hops, bolstered by its medium body, Golden Pigtail
Pilsner made for lip smacking impoliteness. Harvest Ale, a brown ale containing pumpkin
pie spices, presented a good balance between spices and flavorful English hops. The dry
hopped Dusseldorf Alt was pungent from Spalt and Saaz hops, a tantalizing German ale.
Deep copper in color and extremely smooth, the high gravity Scottish Ale was
heavy in malt taste, overshadowing its three hop additions. Creamy from both oats and
nitrogenization, Oatmeal Stout was thick with foam and in body. Its unfiltered flavor
intensified from black patent, roasted and black barley malts. From a homebrew size test
batch, used by Fowlkes for trial recipes, we sampled a Belgian Pale Ale. Fermented with
Chimay yeast, this dry brew, with nicely rounded sweetness (but no candi sugar) was my
pick of the litter. As time allows, and business increases as the weather improves, Mad
Boar will present even more variety, perhaps an IPA (on tap now), Bock, Kolsch or even
4th of July Red Hot Lager, spiced with cinnamon red hot candy.
During a tour of his picturesque two story brewery- complete with five fermenting
tanks, one conditioning tank and six serving tanks -Fowlkes provided green samples of
soon to be finished brews. His Americanized Pilsner was clean, even though unfiltered,
and twice as hoppy as budmillercoors, itís intended competition. Special Old Brew
(S.O.B.), brewed with local homebrewers who won a Mad Boar-sponsored winterfest
contest, was complex with cinnamon nose and clove, vanilla bean, dried orange peel in the
final boil. Itís taste changed with every swallow. With three months lagering time left to
go, Spring Bock was subtly sweet, itís medium body suggesting a hint of chocolate.
Fowlkes new hometown brewpub, open nearly three years, is a warm, cozy place
designed for the beach weary and beer thirsty alike. Situated off Highway 17 in Barefoot
Landing, also home to the House of Blues, Mad Boarís bar is large, C-shaped. Bartenders
seemed very knowledgeable and exceedingly helpful. A large fireplace, which glowed
warmly with gas-fired logs, separates the bar from a large split-level dining area where
steaks, ribs, seafood, pasta, salads and sandwiches keep hunger pangs away.
What an enjoyable, informative afternoon we had with David Fowlkes and all the
fine folks at Mad Boar. Stop in and let Ďem show you what good beer is all about.
This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.
© Bobby Bush