While South Carolina has finally opened its doors to major craft breweries looking to expand their operations, North Carolina is celebrating the grand opening of its second major craft brewery expansion this summer – Sierra Nevada Brewing in Mills River, N.C. Located on a 184-acre plot about 20 minutes outside of Asheville, Sierra Nevada will eventually produce approximately 350,000 barrels of beer annually at the N.C. brewery.
Sierra Nevada has been busy fine-tuning its brewhouse in order to produce its flagship beers as well as its seasonals. Batches of its Pale Ale and Torpedo have already begun shipping from the new facility with more coming soon. Just released is Rain Check, a spiced stout that was brewed specifically for North Carolina and its surrounding states as a gift for opening beyond the expected deadline due to weather delays.
In typical Sierra Nevada fashion, the brewing company is throwing a huge party for its grand opening. Beer Camp Across America is a rolling summer beer festival, going from California to Colorado, Chicago, Philadelphia and Maine – starting at the Chico, Calif. brewery on July 19, and culminating at the Mills River brewery on Aug. 3.
Sierra Nevada invited every brewery in the United States to participate in the festival in their region – sending each brewery an invitation printed on a bottle of beer. More than 100 breweries have accepted the invitation to the festival in Mills River. Several S.C. breweries are planning on going – including our hometown brewery, New South Brewing.
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“When I got the invitation, I definitely was interested in participating. I think Sierra Nevada is showing good faith with the brewing community in the Carolinas. Having a brewery of their size in the region can be beneficial to everyone,” said David Epstein, Brewmaster and owner of Myrtle Beach’s New South Brewing.
A few years ago, if you wanted a growler of fresh draft beer to take home from the store, the Piggly Wiggly at the Market Common was the only show in town. Then other growler stations started popping up at local craft beer stores – Surf Beverage in Garden City Beach, then Beach Discount Beverage and Green’s.
The demand for growler stations continues to grow - with more opening in the past few months. Pavilion Beverage in North Myrtle Beach has eight taps that tend to focus on South Carolina breweries such as New South, River Dog, Quest and Freehouse Brewing.
Atlantic Beverage in Garden City Beach also has eight taps housed in a wooden bar, reminiscent of an Old West saloon – complete with a saddle and pair of boots. There are even a few wild game trophies on the wall – but it’s not all show – Atlantic Beverage has some solid beers on draft. This includes a few summer brews for beach consumption – such as RJ Rockers Son of a Peach and Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, as well as a nice selection of local and regional brews from the likes of Sweetwater, Seminar Brewing, New South and Holy City. The store is even carrying plastic growlers – something I had never seen before – but are a great idea for those looking to enjoy delicious craft beer on the beach or at the pool.
Lowe’s Foods has opened two new stores on the Grand Strand (Pawles Island and Carolina Forest) and didn’t miss a beat with the craft beer crowd. Both stores share identical floor plans that feature sections such as the “Sausage Factory” and the “Chicken Kitchen” and the aptly named “Beer Den.” The Beer Dens at both stores boast nine taps along with a few coolers of bottled and canned craft beer.
The growler stations are decorated with wooden barrels and also have small containers of hops, malted barley and spices on display for shoppers to smell and touch. Lowe’s is also keen on supporting local and regional beer with a selection that includes Westbrook, Aviator, RJ Rockers, Duck Rabbit, Natty Greene’s and Foothills.
Lowe’s Foods stores in both Pawleys Island and Carolina Forest store are hosting Sam Adams Tap Takeovers at their growler stations on Saturday. They will be pouring nine different Sam Adams beers, as well as doing some giveaways. The Carolina Forest store is also planning a New South Tap Takeover on July 26 – with six different beers.
Local Beer Events
Join Myrtle Beach Area Society of Homebrewers (MASH) for the monthly meeting at 1 p.m. July 19 at the Homebrewer’s Pantry in downtown Conway. MASH is welcoming brewers from Seminar Brewing of Florence, who will be hanging out and talking about craft beer and the brand’s newly opened brewery.
The third annual Brews-a-palooza is scheduled for from 5-9 p.m. July 19 at the Deck at the House of Blues. Enjoy more than 30 craft beers, food vendors and a performance by JJ Rupp Band. Sampling glasses are $5 and samples range from $1-$4 tickets.