The Charlottean’s Guide to Columbia SC’s Thriving Craft Beer Scene

From local tastes to creative surprises, Columbia’s craft brewery scene is a worthy trip
Guys In Brewery Hunter Gatherer At Curtis Wright Hangar
Photo by Sean Rayford

Beer isn’t just a Charlotte thing.

Columbia, South Carolina—just an hour-and-a-half drive from the Queen City—boasts a vibrant, growing brewery community with a creative culinary scene to boot.

This accessible mid-size city is affordable too, making it an ideal place to try new-to-you brews while not traveling too far from home.

So grab some friends and a designated driver, and hit the road: Columbia’s craft beer scene awaits.

 

8 Stops for a DIY Brewery Tour of Columbia, SC

Many of Columbia SC’s breweries have open and airy outdoor seating, so you can comfortably enjoy a socially-distant experience in South Carolina’s gorgeous spring climate.

Pro Tip: A Pedal Parlor can help you get from brewery to brewery if you’re celebrating a birthday or other special occasion.

 

Brewer Pouring River Rat

River Rat Brewery. Photo by Sean Rayford

 

1. River Rat Brewery

Hometown pride shines through in local flavors like the 803 IPA (an homage to Columbia’s area code) at River Rat Brewery, which opened in 2013 in honor of the three rivers that run through the city and the laborers who helped build the canal over 100 years ago.

But the local brewers also like to keep things fresh, too, presenting new tastes with every season.

 

2. Swamp Cabbage Brewing Company

At Swamp Cabbage Brewing Company, expect a Bavarian-style biergarten just a stone’s throw from the home of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, Williams-Brice Stadium. Speaking of games, test your bank of random knowledge on Friday trivia nights as you sip on a brew of your liking.

From light and crisp, like the easy-drinking Sabal Palm Blonde, to a nuttier Chocolate Brown ale, Swamp Cabbage has a beer for you.

 

Swamp Cabbage Brewery

Swamp Cabbage Brewery. Photo by John Carlos

3. Columbia Craft Brewing Company

Columbia Craft Brewing Company offers award-winning brews like the Carolinian, an American-style blonde ale that won a Gold medal at the 2020 Great American Beer Festival, plus options for those who are open to edgier flavors, like Alien Hat, a watermelon sour ale.

If you’ve got kids with you, they will appreciate the games here. (And so will you!)

 

4. Hunter-Gatherer Brewery & Alehouse

Located in an historic airplane hangar, Hunter-Gatherer Brewery & Alehouse satisfies the thirst of both history lovers and beer lovers.

Amelia Earnhardt once landed here, and you, too, can park yourself here for a little while.

For classic drinks, the Golden Ale or a Hazy IPA are both solid picks. But if you’re looking for something fruitier, the cherry sour, raspberry sour, or grapefruit IPA might tickle your tastebuds.

 

Couple In Front Of Brewery Hunter Gatherer At Curtis Wright Hangar

Hunter-Gatherer Brewery & Alehouse. Photo by Sean Rayford

 

5. Savage Craft Ale Works

In West Columbia, veteran-owned Savage Craft Ale Works offers a modern outdoor atmosphere for your group to enjoy great brews and Carolina blue skies.

Whether you choose the rooftop patio, the manicured front lawn, or the back yard space, there are many experiences to be had at this tap house. Stop by for Sunday Funday brunch to mix things up!

 

6. Steel Hands Brewing 

You can’t visit Columbia SC without hitting the massive Steel Hands Brewing just outside of downtown. The four-acre site is in the City of Cayce across from one of the nation’s largest rebar manufacturing plants, partly inspiring the brewery’s name.

Try one of the beer-and-food pairings, the Tropical IPA, or the iconic Coffee Lager in either the 2,500-square-foot taproom or the dog-friendly outdoor space.

 

Steel Hands Brewing In Cayce South Carolina Exterior Of Steel Hands Brewing

Steel Hands Brewing. Photo by Crush Rush

 

7. Twisted Spur Brewing

Get excited; this stop involves snacks.

Sink your teeth into fried cauliflower, pub pretzels, 11 different types of wings, or five types of fries to get things started at Twisted Spur Brewing, where owner and Columbia native Chris Baldwin combines his love of home with all he learned while living on the West Coast. An elevated menu brings an air of elegance to the pub, with features like confit duck leg and mussels.

 

8. CottonTown Brew Lab

Head to CottonTown Brew Lab for your dessert. Flavors get a little crazy here—where you can sip specialty brews like Mango Milkshake Double IPA or Coconut Birthday Cake Stout in a spacious biergarten.

Not up for so much party-filled flavor in your beer? Opt for a Haus Rules American Light Lager, a winner every time.

 

Whether you’re looking for an elevated brewpub experience or you’re in search of a lazy day filled with friends in the biergarten—or both for an action-packed experience—Columbia’s craft beer scene is worth the drive from Charlotte.

Don’t have a designated driver to accommodate a big day of breweries? Consider making a full culinary weekend out of your stay, find accommodations you fancy, and visit a few restaurants, too. The Columbia SC community, breweries and brewpubs all have COVID-19 protocols and safety precautions in place.

Thirsty for more?

View a full list of Columbia SC breweries →

See alternate craft beer weekend itinerary →

Learn more about visiting Columbia SC →

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