The Columbia area has experienced a mini-boom of sorts in the number of breweries and distilleries in a short amount of time. In 1995, Hunter-Gatherer Brewery & Ale House on Main Street was the only place in the area to get brewed-in-house beer. In 2013, three breweries opened in the Columbia area and since then, Columbia has had one new craft brewery opening a year.
Here’s what Columbia’s breweries have to offer, and what’s to yet to come:
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Hunter-Gatherer Brewery & Ale House: The original brewery in 1995 at 900 Main Street in Columbia had its copper brewing vats conveniently located behind the bar. Known for the Extra Special Bitter (ESB), Wheat and Pale Ale, Hunter-Gatherer also produces seasonal ales and stouts.
The food at Hunter-Gatherer has evolved over the years, and is so popular you might have to wait for a table to open up on weeknights. Some of our favorite selections include the mac-and-cheese, hummus platter, or The Iberian pizza (goat cheese, serrano ham and roasted red peppers). Also check the specials board on the wall for nightly offerings.
After extensive renovations, Hunter-Gatherer finally opened a second location in January 2018 at the Curtiss-Wright Hangar at Owens Field airport, in the Rosewood neighborhood in Columbia. The 13,000 sq ft. hangar features and event space, bar and kitchen area, and an observation deck.
Conquest Brewing Company: Established in 2013, Columbia’s first production-driven craft brewery since prohibition has sort of a medieval dark knight vibe going for it. Artemis Blonde, Sacred Heart IPA and Warrior Heart IPA are its signature brews, and during the week there are growler nights, pint nights and trivia. Sundays feature yoga classes at noon. You can find Conquest Brewing at 947 S Stadium Rd., Bay 1
River Rat Brewery: After opening its doors in 2013 at 1231 Shop Rd., Mike Toureville has grown River Rat into a beer lover’s destination in a very short time. Not long after the brewery was established, a tasting room opened in the front of the building. A fenced yard on the side became a place for dog lovers and parents with kids to hang out, and where you can find college students and young professionals engaged in impromptu corn hole tournaments.
Toureville added a kitchen and started serving pizzas and sandwiches in the evenings, and Friday lunch service was added Jan. 19. The rooftop bar, complete with big screen tvs and misters for those hot summer days, is set to open in February. River Rat will celebrate its fifth anniversary on March 10.
Old Mill Brewpub: Established in 2013 in Lexington’s Historic Old Mill, the brewpub produces sours, kolsch, IPAs, stouts and porters. Try a flight of the in-house brews or any of the other beers available while dining from the menu that features pub food like burgers, salads and fish and chips. The annual Chili Cookoff will take place Feb. 18, at Icehouse Amphitheater.
Swamp Cabbage Brewing Company: Located at 921 Brookwood Dr. near Williams-Brice Stadium, the brewery, which opened in 2014, hosts a running club, special event dinners with beer pairings, Friday Firkin ($3 pint surprises) and First Sunday Pups & Pints afternoons where the proceeds of $1 pint go to local pet-loving non-profits. Unique to Swamp Cabbage is the annual Seed Swap & Suds event, Feb. 24, where you can bring some seeds (veggie, flower, whatever), swap some seeds and sip some pints.
Beirkeller Columbia: Established in 2015 by Scott Burgess. A master of German beer styles, Burgess’ Beirkeller beers contain only four ingredients: malt, water, hops, and yeast. Burgess has four standard brews — Kölumbianer, a top-fermenting lager in the Kölsch style; Kellerbier, an unfiltered farmhouse-style lager; Fastenbier, a dark Franconian lager; and Rauchbier, a Bamberg, Germany-style smoked beer. Look for pop-up events or area festivals to enjoy Beirkeller beers.
Twisted Spur Brewing: The microbrewery and full-service restaurant opened in April 2016 at 705 Gervais St. in The Vista. Twisted Spur features 12 drafts and at least 11 beers on tap. The restaurant menu focuses on fresh oysters — served raw or steamed — salads, sandwiches and pub fare and shareable plates and wings. There’s also a tailgate menu available that sells wings, ribs, bratwurst and dips in bulk.
Columbia Craft Brewing Company: The family-owned brewery, led by Richard Strauss and sons Andrew and Justin, opened Nov. 2017 at 520 Greene St. in The Vista. The brewery and tasting room features Famously Hop (IPA), Columbia Craft Lager, Pulaski Porter and Columbia Craft Red Ale as well as a rotating tap of seasonal and small batch brews. According to the Strausses, Columbia Craft should produce about 1,500 barrels of beer a year.
CottonTown Brew Lab: Plans for Cottontown were announced in June 2016. The complex will include four inter-connected buildings that will house the brewery and over-sized tasting room at 1223 Franklin St., next to The War Mouth. CottonTown is in production and the brewery’s beers (TropiCarolina IPA, Indah Coffee Stout and Blue Zip Tie IPA) can be found in over 30 bars and restaurants in the Midlands. As for the tap room, expect an opening date closer to the end of summer 2018.