Charleston foodies looking for something new should check out the brewery food scene around the state capital, Columbia. Here are some great spots that are whipping up more than delicious craft beers. Their creative flavor combos and local ingredients spread from the brewhouse to the kitchen, where chefs take the reins to create tasty bites that complement or even incorporate the beer itself.
Hunter Gatherer Brewery at The Hangar, Columbia
Pizza and beer are the classic pairing and Hunter Gatherer Brewery at The Hangar over in the Rosewood neighborhood excels in both. Its Neapolitan-style pizzas feature a chewy, blackened crust and microgreens from City Roots just across the street. You can’t go wrong with the Chicken Bacon Ranch pie and there’s even a Vegan Dream option for plant-based patrons. If you’re not in the mood for pizza, peruse the selection of shareable snacks and fresh salads. Maybe a salad isn’t what you planned on eating at a brewery, but The BLT salad featuring large chunks of bacon and slow-roasted tomatoes will certainly make you change your mind.
River Rat, Columbia
We know River Rat is a brewery, but we’re not lying when we say the food is worth a visit by itself. Bar favorites like nachos, smoked wings and 803 IPA Beer Queso Fries are made to perfection, but there are also unexpected options like a Pimento Cheese Quesadilla, Brisket mac-and-cheese or Buffalo Chicken Taco that’ll have you ordering way more than you planned. Weekend brunch is no exception, with the River Rat Grit Bowl, “Frenchie” Breakfast Sandwich and Zan’s Chicken and Waffles that all go oh so well with the Astronaut Sauce Beermosa.
Hunter Gatherer on Main, Columbia
Columbia SC’s oldest locally owned brewery (est. 1995) is also a hoppin’ restaurant that’s located behind the S.C.Statehouse and on the edges of the University of South Carolina campus. This two-story space boasts a cozy, intimate atmosphere and maintains both an actively changing specials board and a well-loved fixed menu. Enjoy classics like the mac-and-cheese sprinkled with crushed Goldfish crackers or pick a seasonal item from the large chalkboard taking up the better part of one of the walls. The kitchen pulls from international culinary trends and the taps behind the bar are handcrafted by the owner to ensure top quality.
Twisted Spur, Columbia
Nestled among restaurants in the Vista District, you’ll find Twisted Spur Brewing. From beer cheese and beer mustard to go alongside your pub pretzel to beer-b-que sauce on the pulled pork sandwich, a beer-braised brat and beer-battered haddock making up the fish and chips, the beer here is put to more versatile uses than simply being a refreshing beverage. Lighter options like the Bruschetta Chicken, Twisted Wedge salad and black bean Nacho Burger make for a well-rounded menu. Plus, you can watch the brewers at work while you hang out, as the glass-walled production area is visible from the bar and dining room.
Peak Drift Brewing (coming) and Smoked, Columbia
Peak Drift Brewing may not be open on North Main just yet, but you can still sneak an early taste of the brews at Smoked on Main Street. The fine dining establishment that serves up oysters, steaks, seafood towers and more also has a microbrewery on site. It sure makes steaming the shrimp in the Double IPA a lot easier when it’s brewed in-house!
Steel Hands, Cayce
Once you make it out to Steel Hands in Cayce for one of its delicious brews, you’ll want to hang out all day. Fortunately, the menu of small and large plates is there to sustain your day-drinking plans. The menu offers suggested beer pairings with each dish – the lager goes best with the Onion Ring Tower, the Lime Golden Ale goes nicely with the Blackened Mahi Sandwich and the Irish Red Ale is your best bet when ordering the vegetarian Portobello Sandwich, for example. The kids’ menu is cheekily labeled as being for the “Half-Pints” and includes items like a corn dog, grilled cheese or chicken tender basket. Be sure to visit on a Sunday for brunch, where the Coffee Lager isn’t the only star of the show. A BBQ-LT, Steel Hands Omelet and Fruity Pebble French Toast and Buttermilk Wings are just some of the eats that’ll get your day started off right.
Savage Craft Ale Works, West Columbia
The chef-driven menu at Savage Craft in West Columbia goes well beyond your average pub fare. Boasting three different menus – biergarten, rooftop and brunch – the dining experience here varies depending on when you come and where you sit. The biergarten menu features hearty options like a Wild Boar Shank, Duck Confit Baguette and Blackened Atlantic Salmon, among others. The rooftop opts for lighter dishes like a Pesto Caprese, Bavarian Pretzel or Black Bean Sliders. Brunch ranges from sweet selections like a Berry Waffle, Banana Bread Pudding and Vertical Roots Salad to savory items like a Breakfast Chimichanga, Lobster Benedict and Brookland BLT.
Dayna Cantelmi and Helen Dennis of Experience Columbia SC contributed to this report. Learn more about Columbia SC’s craft brewery scene.”
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