Man, take a look at that can. There’s a lot of stuff going on with that can. There’s like, a bird hanging out in a monkey’s bouffant, all of which is tangled up in the hair of a Native American smoking…a turkey leg? His own hand? I’m not sure. There’s some celestial stuff going on in the fringes, and a hop bud, some hieroglyphic-like dudes standing on rock buttes…it’s complex. Much like the beer inside—the Smoking Mirror, a smoked porter made by Quest Brewing out of Greenville.
I know what you’re thinking. Greenville probably isn’t the first town you think of when you think of “craft beer.” Asheville, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Richmond, Atlanta…most of us would rattle off a pretty extensive list of beer towns before we got to Greenville. But if this smoked porter is any indication, good things are brewing in this progressive city at the base of the long Blue Wall.
The beer pours dark, with a faint tint of red around the tan head, and smells like cherries. You get that yin/yang from dark fruit when you take a sip—a balance of sweet and tart notes—but it’s washed away by the incredible roasted malt character. There is some smokiness here, which comes from the peated malt in the mash bill, and a spiciness that’s more akin to tobacco than any pepper. It’s sophisticated, dark, tasty.
Quest Brewing itself is only a couple of years old, and named after its home city’s adventurous spirit. It’s a small brewery (25 barrels), but they’ve already managed to start distributing beyond Greenville and into North Carolina. Smoking Mirror is one of only four core beers, but Quest also has a robust limited release series available in their taproom. They’re even aging some of their stuff in barrels. Word on the street is there’s a bourbon barrel-aged version of Smoking Mirror. I’m thinking it’s worth a quest across the border to sample that particular brew in person.