With one of the largest selections of craft beer, a near-encyclopedic knowledge of his products, a passion for the industry and a love of his community, Bomboras Grille co-owner Todd Romoser has certainly earned the title “The Island Beer Guy.”
“I’ve always had a passion for sharing my love of beer with others,” Romoser said. “There’s such a great community around the beer scene now here.”
Romoser grew up in Batavia, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, and traveled west to Colorado for college. The location also appeared to be right for an education of another sort, as the region was at the center of a burgeoning craft beer movement, and Romoser decided to stay for the scene and the slopes.
“Instead of drinking Keystone Lights (like) everyone else in college, I was exposed to a wide variety of craft beers,” Romoser said. “It was really a re-growth of that kind of craft beer scene, and I just fell in love with it and the whole community around it.”
When the South Carolina legislature changed the laws governing breweries and craft beers about eight years ago, Romoser and his wife, Stacey, decided the time was right to trade the slopes of the Rockies for the beaches of the Lowcountry.
“Once I saw the laws changing, that was the cherry on top that convinced me to be part of the growth of pretty much a virgin beer scene down here,” said Romoser, whose in-laws live on the island and are partners in Bomboras. “When I first got down here, it wasn’t much, but it’s pretty much blown up in every little town in South Carolina getting breweries going, so it’s very exciting to watch.”
After recent passage of a state law allowing both on-site sales and off-site distribution, South Carolina now has a regulatory climate that ranks it among the most craft beer-friendly states in the country.
“It’s really fun for me to watch what I experienced in college happening all over again at a later stage of my life. It’s pretty much wide open (now),” he said.
Romoser’s bar is the first in the state to offer nitrogenized coffee on tap, which he uses to make unique beer cocktails, often adding it to a stout or a very strong IPA. The coffee, served draught-style, offers an interesting visual — creamy, thick and cloudy, somewhat like a Guinness.
“There’s really only a few places in the country doing it. And we’re planning on selling kegs to other bars that are interested in trying this concept,” he said.
As for the daily island beer requests, Romoser leans toward versatility.
“A lot of people are looking for light, crisp, refreshing, off-the-beach beer, but still with a nice backbone of malt and hops. One of the more popular is the IPA (India Pale Ale), which is hoppy and often citrusy down here,” Romoser said.
The setting at Bomboras is relaxed, with a diverse clientele (“suits and suits,” as Romoser calls it) and a menu featuring fresh local seafood, adventurous appetizers and salads in social sharing plates.
“We wanted people to feel very comfortable in our restaurant, and it seems to be working very well for us,” he said. “We definitely wanted to be focused on the changing laws on beers in the state, especially being off the beach; we thought it would be a very unique concept to feature (local craft beers) as the industry grew.”