Mad Boar Restaurant & Brewery, North Myrtle Beach, SC

David Fowlkes
Mad Boar Restaurant & Brewery
North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

David Fowlkes first garnered a degree of notoriety at the 1997 Southeastern Microbrewers Invitational festival 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. Fowlkes’ Belgian Dubel was strong and sweet, as true to Belgian style as can be made under South Carolinas’ arcane alcohol regulations (6.0% maximum alcohol by weight). As was his brew, David was unusually outgoing and friendly, enthusiastically encouraging everyone to try his tempting brews.

David’s professional brewing career began in his hometown of Athens, Georgia in 1994 where he worked as an administrator for now-deceased Double Barrel Brewing Company. But it wasn’t until his next employment opportunity, a two year stay as an assistant brewer for Marthasville Brewing, that Fowlkes experienced hands-on, large scale brewing. A jack-of-all-trades, he was involved in everything at Marthasville, from brewing to packaging. David left Marthasville before the microbrewery, one of Georgia’s first, folded.

His tenure at Columbia, SC’s tiny Vista Restaurant and Brewery was short-lived, partly because the establishment’s beer turnover was slow, therefore hampering his creative urge. At Vista, the now experienced brewer was a one man show. In addition to manning the mash tun, he eventually hired and trained his own replacement, Jamie Bartholomaus. (Jamie’s name will re-appear elsewhere in the book).

Charleston Beer Works, a homebrew supply house in that historic South Carolina coastal town, was next on this adventuresome brewer’s job list. As store manager, he found himself not too far removed from his passion. While running the homebrew supply store’s daily operations, which included a website and mail-order business, he found time to volunteer at a nearby microbrewery, assisting T-Bonz brewer David Epstein with the brewing of T-Bonz contract beers on the 25 barrel brewhouse at Palmetto Brewing Company. When the homebrew store position terminated, David became a teacher, a brewing teacher. The self-motivated individual was hired to train a new brewer at Aiken Brewing Company in Aiken, SC. He also installed their CO2 lines and served, for a while, as a consultant for that seven barrel operation. The 30-something brewer turned down an offer to brew in Westin, Florida, choosing to stay near the South Carolina shore where he waited for the right opportunity to present itself.

And it did. When the position of head brewer opened up in North Myrtle Beach in March ‘98, David jumped at the chance to take over for original Mad Boar Restaurant & Brewery kettle master Don Lynch. Mad Boar has been the blessed benefactor of Fowlkes’ brewing creations ever since.

Working with a well-designed 18 barrel brewing system, Mad Boar produces about 500 barrels of beer each year. Though the seasonal nature of seaside N. Myrtle greatly reduces brewing activity in the dreary winter months, Fowlkes has not let the summertime light beer touristy atmosphere affect his artistry one bit. The busy brewer offers a fine selection of exemplary brews. Even his Rootin Raspberry Wheat (a style long the victim of koolaid sweetness), is notable. Its pleasantly sour flavor belies a tempting sweet aroma. Lightly hopped, this pleasing fruit beer uses a 50/50 wheat/barley mash. Potent with Saaz hops and bolstered by its medium body, Golden Pilsner, brewed loosely in the Western European style, makes for lip smacking impoliteness. Pig Tail Ale is Mad Boar’s lightest beer. Brewed with rice, it purposely compares closely with a macrobrewed American-style lager. Harvest Ale, a brown ale containing pumpkin pie spices, presents good balance between spices and flavorful English hops. The dry hopped Dusseldorf Alt, pungent from Spalt and Saaz hops, is a tantalizing German ale, but unfortunately, is no longer in the Mad Boar line-up.

Deep copper in color and extremely smooth, the high gravity Scottish Ale is heavy in malt taste, overshadowing its three hop additions. Creamy from both flaked oats and nitrogenization, Boars Snout Oatmeal Stout is thick with foam and in body. Its unfiltered flavor is intensified from chocolate, roasted and black barley malts. Made as a homebrew size test batch, used by Fowlkes for trial recipes, his Belgian Pale Ale is fermented with Chimay yeast which produces a dry brew, with nicely rounded sweetness (but no candi sugar)/ Over the years, David has added even more beer variety. Joining a fairly regular, suggestively hoppy and amber-hued IPA is a continuing rotation of seasonal Brews of the Month. This evolving list includes a malty Bock, traditional Kolsch, Winter Solstice Ale, Porter, Hefeweizen and even 4th of July Red Hot Lager, spiced with cinnamon red hot candy.

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David takes as much creative license in brewing as possible. Ever aware of the importance in keeping Mad Boar’s customers satisfied, he thrives at “making up things no one else will.” “You can’t do it often,” he explains, “because you have to sell the beer, but once or twice a year I try to make a nutty brew.” And he doesn’t mean a nut brown ale. Even more important to this young, dedicated family man is the pleasure he derives from observing the end result of his beer. “The way it makes three to five folks, strangers sitting at the bar, strike up a conversation and carry it on for hours” is just as exhilarating to David as allowing the local homebrewers club to brew an 18 barrel batch of Winter Solstice Brew, the winning recipe in a Mad Boar-sponsored homebrew competition, in his brewhouse.

“The key to making great beer is paying attention to what you are doing, asking questions of others and, above all, keeping everything clean.” – Obviously dedicated to the brewing profession as a career, David not only gives, he lives his brewing advice.

During a tour of his picturesque two story brewery – complete with five fermenting tanks, one conditioning tank and six serving tanks – Fowlkes provides green samples of soon to be finished brews. His Americanized Pilsner is clean, even though unfiltered, and twice as hoppy as budmillercoors, it’s intended competition. Special Old Brew (S.O.B.), brewed with local homebrewers who won another Mad Boar-sponsored Winterfest contest, is complex with cinnamon nose and clove, vanilla bean, dried orange peel in the final boil. It’s taste morphs during every swallow. Spring Bock is subtly sweet, it’s medium body suggesting a hint of chocolate.

Mad Boar, brewing for nearly three years, is a warm, cozy place designed for families, beach-weary and beer-thirsty alike. Situated off Highway 17 in Barefoot Landing, also home to the House of Blues, Mad Boar’s bar is large, horseshoe-shaped. Bartenders are very knowledgeable and exceedingly helpful. A large fireplace, which glows warmly with gas-fired logs, separates the bar from a spacious split-level dining area where steaks, ribs, seafood, pasta, salads and sandwiches keep hunger pangs away.

There’s more to North Myrtle Beach than sun and sand. David Fowlkes’ intriguing beers make Mad Boar Brewing Company a welcome respite from tourist traps, sunburn and crappy beer.

Mad Boar Brewing Company
4706 South Highway 17
North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582
843/272-7000

The Beers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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