The Lowcountry was tailor-made for evenings spent watching the sunset with a beer in hand. But island beer connoisseurs’ options have increased dramatically over the past few years, as craft breweries and suds frontiersmen have sprung up all over Beaufort County. Here’s a look at five of our favorite places to find just the right libation.
The Lodge Beer and Growler Bar
Orchid Paulmaier made a name for herself as the outgoing owner of One Hot Mama’s. Now, the “Next Food Network Star” alum has taken over this iconic south end beer bar and has risen the already high profile of the ski mountain-themed island institution to a new level. The Greenwood Drive bar has received high praise from both locals and Beer Advocate thanks its selection of 36 rotating taps and more than 100 bottled beers. The menu features craft burgers and gourmet grilled cheeses perfectly paired with the endless bar selection. Couldn’t make your way through all the beer options? Take home a half gallon of any beer on tap with the restaurant’s signature growlers.
Porter & Pig
This is one of the newest entries to the local beer scene, but owner Ivy Burdick has been a mainstay on the Hilton Head restaurant scene for years. The popular waitress, bartender and manager has assembled a dream team staff focused on service, a wide beer selection, wines by the glass and craft cocktails at her Village at Wexford location. Burdick has vowed to have at least six beer styles on tap at all times to go with a menu of charcuterie, cheeses and shared plates. Options from 25 unique beer houses from Allagash to Widmer are featured.
Hilton Head Brewing Company
“South Carolina’s first microbrewery and restaurant” is still thriving, with a new north end production facility that offers tastings of six styles of beer, including the brewery’s original Session IPA and Tropical Lager concoctions. The new brewery is producing 1,000 barrels of beer a year, according to co-owner John Rybicki. The re-opened original location in Reilley’s Plaza has more than 30 bottled beer options as well as serving the originals, all in an atmosphere complete with game room, an outdoor bar and a downstairs dining room.
It’s the chain restaurant that somehow has managed to create a unique vibe in every location. The company’s two Lowcountry locations, on Office Park Road on the island and on Fording Island Road in Bluffton, are no different — and the beer selection goes a long way toward helping them stand out. Mellow offers a wide selection of craft, regional and international brews and always makes room for local beers among its menu of more than 30 draft beers and 75 bottled options. And join the restaurant’s beer club to accumulate rewards for partaking in the restaurant’s ever-changing rotation of suds.
In just four years, Jon Rinaldi and his staff have managed to create the kind of iconic location that feels like its been part of the Calhoun Street culture for decades. The wood floors, leather chairs, wine racks and inviting porch draw you in. The handmade pizzas and ever-evolving beer selection keeps locals and visitors coming back. The restaurant has 80 bottled selections and 22 varieties on tap, everything from the local River Dog and Wooden Skiff to as far reaching as Belgium’s Chimay Triple on tap with selections changing weekly.