When the President delivered his State of the Union address last week, as always, he proclaimed that the state of the union was strong. While this may or may not actually be the case, we do know that the state of craft brewing in South Carolina is strong and getting stronger. Several recent announcements made that very clear. South Carolina’s newest brewery, Brewery 85 in Greenville, opened its doors and the Canadian stainless steel brewing equipment manufacturer, Accent Stainless Steel, announced it is opening a new facility in Horry County this year.
After many months of building, preparation and brewing, Brewery 85 held its grand opening on Saturday (Feb. 1). Owners Will McCameron and Meredith McCameron and Jeremy Caldwell and friends poured their Yeoman’s Brown Ale, Southern Style Pale Ale and Quittin’ Time Helles Bock for a crowd of admirers. We can’t expect to see any of their beers here at the beach anytime soon, but a quick trip up to the Upstate would be worth it to taste the S.C. newcomer’s offerings.
Two other S.C. breweries are also one step closer to opening their doors and pouring their first beers. Swamp Rabbit, of Traveler’s Rest (just north of Greenville), had its brewing equipment delivered this week. A little closer to the beach, Seminar Brewing of Florence had its 8.5 barrel brew house equipment delivered in January and have been running plumbing and prepping its space – getting closer to opening its doors later this spring.
Even though we don’t have any imminent brewery openings at the beach, Conway homebrew store, The Homebrewer’s Pantry, is in the midst of preparing its space for an April 5 opening. A few well-placed hammer blows revealed an original brick wall that the owners are planning to utilize at the downtown Conway site. To continue to follow the progress of The Homebrewer’s Pantry, check out Facebook at www.facebook.com/hbpantry or go to the Web site www.homebrewerspantry.com.
A homebrew store in Mt. Pleasant opened its doors this last week, also. Yeast - Everything Homebrew opened in Belle Station Shopping Center in the Belle Hall neighborhood; promising home brewers of all skill levels the equipment and ingredients to feed their passion. Yeast is selling kits, ingredients, equipment and books as well as offering classes and demos. For more information, check the store out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/yeasthomebrew.
Some big news for us here at the beach is the aforementioned announcement that brewing equipment manufacturing company, Accent Stainless Steel of British Columbia, plans on opening a 50,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Horry County in 2014. The $3.1 million investment is supposed to create 65 new, high-skilled manufacturing jobs. Accent Stainless Steel manufactures brewing equipment under the brand name Newlands and fabricates any and all of the equipment used to brew beer commercially – from brew kettles and mash tuns to fermentation tanks and grain mills.
The company is looking to expand its business and bring its production closer to some of its biggest clients on the East Coast. The expansion isn’t the company’s first business venture in South Carolina as 20 years ago, Accent Stainless Steel sold brewing equipment to Palmetto Brewing in Charleston, the state’s first production brewery. Accent has also built brew systems for Brooklyn Brewery, as well as big boys, Coors and Molson.
"Our goal is to set up a world-class manufacturing facility in South Carolina that can produce high quality products for our domestic and international clients. Micro-breweries are a big industry for us and I look forward to manufacturing the Newlands brand of brewing equipment in this new facility. I feel that Horry County has the training centers, infrastructure, and standard of living to attract top-notch people that will help make our company successful. I look forward to working with them along this journey," said Balbir Sidhu, vice president/manufacturing of Accent Stainless Steel.
The company was lured to Horry County with the promise of the specialized training opportunities made available by Horry-Georgetown Technical College’s new welding program. The facility will bring high-paying jobs, too. Wages are expected to start at around $22 per hour – about 65 percent higher than the county’s average wage. Accent Stainless Steel will be open and be operational by the end of 2014.
"I was pleased to be a part of the EDC's recruitment efforts to locate this company to Horry County. Not only can we celebrate new, high-paying jobs for our citizens, but also another first-class company and corporate citizen for the Grand Strand," said Mark Lazarus, chairman of Horry County Council.
According to the Brewers Association, craft brewing had an impact in South Carolina to the tune of $254 million and close to 3,000 jobs in 2012. We didn’t have the pint law in 2012, plus we have added five breweries since then. Once the numbers come out for 2013, I think we’ll see that by drinking South Carolina beer, we are pumping not only delicious, fresh beer into our bellies, but also much needed cash into our local economy.
Brewvival has officially sold out its online tickets. People who haven’t gotten their tickets yet will need to make the trip to North Charleston to the Charleston Beer Exchange to buy their tickets. This event will definitely sell out before the day of the event – Feb. 22.
Meanwhile, tickets are on sale for our own local beer festival, the Myrtle Beach Beer Festival – March 29 at the House of Blues. Check out www.myrtlebeachbeerfest.com for tickets and details.
Contact John Garner at MBCraftBeer@gmail.com and follow him at www.facebook.com/TheNewBeerman.