Columbia Craft opened in 2017, but it is quickly being joined by more breweries.
Breweries are becoming extremely popular across the United States and South Carolina is no exception. As of 2019, the state had 88 craft breweries and they just keep coming. Columbia alone has at least twelve already and four more are on the way. Why is Columbia such a hotspot? Well, the pandemic is actually a huge factor.
Robin DiPietro, director of the International Institute for Foodservice Research and Education in the College of Hospitality, Retail, and Sport Management, says that a brewery is actually a perfect space for a pandemic.
“What we’re looking for in a pandemic, because of the way that these spaces are set up, they lend themselves to a pandemic, they have this open space and this kind of rustic feel, and it’s not a closed in dining experience,” DiPietro said.
As well as having tons of open space, breweries are not as expensive as other ventures.
Sandy Strick, Director of the Wine and Beverage Institute in the College of HRSM, says they are pretty cost-effective.
“There’s no big signage, there’s no big investment of the outside of it, it’s just they invest in their equipment and that’s it, so you find a lot of that happening. So it’s fairly easy to open and close those, so I’m sure it’s more of a financial investment than I know, but compared to a restaurant it’s a pretty easy investment, at least in the equipment,” said Strick.
One of Columbia’s newer breweries, Columbia Craft Brewing Company, opened in 2017. When asked about the competition, they say they aren’t worried. Bartender Max Geiger says he is happy about all the new breweries opening up.
“I’m really excited about it, we are a fairly close-knit community as far as breweries go in Columbia, and we are all pretty new, we all kind of have to work together to make things work,” Geiger said.
There at least four new breweries coming to the Columbia area. Navy Yard on Main is opening in Lexington this spring, Smoked, a microbrewery, is coming to main street sometime this year, Iron Hill Brewery is opening in the Bull Street District this summer, and a large, unnamed brewery is coming to North Main sometime next year.
With all of this new development, there is hope that Columbia becomes a go-to destination.
“I think people are finally realizing I think people are catching on that Columbia’s a pretty cool place and it’s going to be even cooler in the next few years,” said Geiger.