As Grand Strand stretches, so does craft beer purchasing options | Beer chick

The craft beer aisle at Pavilion Discount Beverages in North Myrtle Beach. Photo by Kristen West for The Surge.
The craft beer aisle at Pavilion Discount Beverages in North Myrtle Beach. Photo by Kristen West for The Surge.

When it comes to enjoying craft beer at home, there is always that need to find the right place to stop and pick up that bottle of Duvel or the six-pack of Coast Dead Arm Pale ale. The thing is, the Grand Strand itself is technically an enormous stretch of towns and cities along the coastline of Horry and Georgetown counties. Until recently, you had very little option to go anywhere else other than the heart of the strand, the city of Myrtle Beach.

Lowes Food off S.C. 31 on International Drive is headed full steam toward craft beer stardom with its Beer Den. Still in Myrtle Beach, this excellent option hits the big time when you can waltz in and find Kodiak Kilt from Highland Brewing, a beer brewed just for Lowes, right on the growler station. Lowes even allows you to purchase a pint while you shop! Sipping a beer - while shopping for beer - might actually be the best thing since sliced bread (which is just a couple aisles over)!

It’s been a long time coming on the other end of town, but North Myrtle Beach is finally seeing a massive craft beer selection of its own in the form of Pavilion Discount Beverages. While this location has had the best selection on the north end for a very long time, in recent months the craft beer and wine selection has basically exploded. Even the store’s shelving is having to be constantly added and adjusted to accommodate all of the new additions.

With a four-tap growler station being reserved exclusively for seasonal and specialty releases, there is always a reason to keep an empty growler on hand for a quick stop in. With emphasis on local selections, you won’t have a problem finding special releases like Westbrook’s Mexican Cake, and big-time new releases for the Grand Strand like DuClaw Brewing Company’s beers from Baltimore, Md. This week they even had a supply of Founders KBS, a highly sought after coffee and chocolate noted imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels.

I had a chance to speak with Michael Wareham, who in August of last year came from the Lowes Food on International to take on the job of reorganizing, refreshing, and expanding the beer and wine half of Pavilion. He said that in the last nine months they’ve seen consistent growth sales growth, month-over-month, and that there are a lot of exciting things coming for the store, including an additional 2,000 sq/ft warehouse expansion, beautiful new flooring, and of course MORE BEER!

Of course, Michael and I got to chatting about our favorite beers, trends in the industry, and all that. Turns out his all-time favorite is Sierra Nevada’s Barrel-Aged Hoptimum, which is a seasonal IPA that all hop-heads love, but then aged in bourbon barrels and only available on-site at the brewery’s gift shop (Asheville/Fletcher, NC). I didn’t even know that this beer existed, but now that I do, it’s risen to the top of my “must have” list!

The Piggly Wiggly at The Market Common is the undisputed go-to when you're in Myrtle Beach. They’ve got it all, from what’s new and hot to the tried and true, and of course there’s the supremely knowledgeable Michael Byrd, store operator, continuing to blaze the trail for the whole area. Still, while the Pig is still legendary, sometimes the trek into town isn't always the easiest option for those of us on the north end, especially as the tourist traffic is in full swing from now until after Labor Day.

The craft beer market itself has exploded and according the National Brewers Association, craft beer made up 12% of the national beer market. The means roughly one is every ten beers sold is a craft beer. By 2020 that percentage is expected to hit 20%. That’s a piece of pie that no one wants to miss out on, and whether you’re selling it or drinking it, you shouldn’t either!