The ultimate irony of Sharon Hoven's latest project is this: She doesn't drink beer.
No matter. Hoven, who operates the family's Hoven Farms near Camden with husband, Edward, has teamed up with South Carolina craft breweries after discovering the artisanal sausage produced from their heritage farm goes great with beer.
The longtime hog farmer kicked off her beer-pairing initiative in the fall of 2017 at an outdoor beer festival hosted by Columbia's Swamp Cabbage Brewery in conjunction with German-style brewer Bierkeller. Manning a grill next to a cooler full of several of her now-seven varieties of sausage, Hoven offered free samples and scored big points with the customers.
She's now working on plans to offer beer brats and other sausages at Swamp Cabbage Brewery's taproom, Hunter-Gatherer Brewery's historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar adjacent to Jim Hamilton - L.B. Owens Airport and Crouch Distillery on South Stadium Road.
"I'd always heard about beer brats at tailgates during football season," Hoven said. "Guys tailgating, eating brats, drinking beer - it meshed beautifully."
With Swamp Cabbage, Crouch and Hunter-Gatherer's Hangar located not far from Williams-Brice Stadium, Hoven hopes the brat-spirits combination will become a Gamecock tailgating tradition during University of South Carolina's fall football season.
In addition to its new presence in Columbia's breweries and distilleries, Hoven Farms offers its packaged artisanal sausage for sale at its country farm store at 877 Timber Creek Road in Bishopville. The market also sells fresh peas and beans in season.
The Hovens have been raising hogs for market since around 2005 and transporting the herd to an Upstate slaughterhouse. In 2017, they began working with an artisanal butcher in Duncan, who helped them license their meats under their own name and expand their market.
After experimenting with beer brats and sausages, they created several varieties of sausage in flavors such as garlic, jalapeño and cheddar cheese, onion, sweet Italian, chorizo and two specialties: Vernon's Hot and MoonPie Sage. They're also working with Crouch Distillery to develop a bourbon sausage using the distillery's Young Carolina Bourbon.
Along with developing a new fan base, the Hovens' partnerships with breweries and distilleries comes with an additional benefit: The leftover mash and grains from the brewing and distilling process provides them with free feed for their hogs.
For more information on Hoven Farms Country Meat Market, click here or call 803.729.3160.