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Like many towns across America, Myrtle Beach has seen its share of the "beer boom" trend. There are brew pubs, gastropubs, beer gardens and microbreweries. But there is only one full service brewery on the Grand Strand, and it has been quenching the taste buds of locals and tourists since 1998, growing from a two-man operation to an established and respected brand.
Now visitors can take a tour of the New South Brewing facility and see for themselves exactly where and how their beer is made, and sight isn't the only of the five senses you can satisfy. Thanks to a recent change in South Carolina law, breweries can offer tastings of their products on-site, as well as package sales for patrons who want a few brews to go.
Located near the heart of downtown Myrtle Beach but tucked away in the warehouse district, New South Brewing is a bit off the beaten path to be a part of your regular pub-crawl rotation. But it's worth the short trip to Campbell Street to start off a night out with an educational and entertaining tour of the brewery that ends with samples of the finished product.
Held on Tuesdays and Thursdays promptly at 3 p.m. (sorry, no late arrivals), the free tour takes guests through every step of the brewing process - from the mixing and fermentation stages to the canning and keg-filling operations. Learn how a magical mixture of grains, water, yeast, time and a little love from the brewmaster produce an amazing array of beers.
Visitors can follow beers from the infant stages through the maturing process, watch them loaded into 12-ounce cans on the assembly line, then head to everyone's favorite stop on the tour - the tasting room. Patrons get the opportunity to taste beers fresh out of the large vats with free samples of New South's popular lineup of at least eight different draft brews.
Try New South's Lager, Stout, White Ale, IPA, and Nut Brown Ale, which are part of the brewery's year-round rotation, as well as seasonal favorites like the fall release of Oktoberfest and the winter specialty Dark Porter Star. New South also offers an occasional mystery beer, such as dry-hop lagers or bourbon barrel-aged ales, to give your taste buds a surprise.
New South offers draft pours and retail sales on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 4:30 to 7 p.m., and new holiday hours have been added from noon to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays to give guests the chance to do a little Christmas shopping for souvenirs. Patrons can pick up six-packs, growlers, T-shirts, stickers, hats and all kinds of gear to remember your tour.
The tasting room is one of the best-kept secrets in town, providing a small and low-key hangout with the crowds and chaos of many restaurant/bar establishments. Belly up to the bar and sample the goods while watching the game on TV, talking about the subtle flavors of each brew, and keeping an eye on the operations through the window to the brewing room.
Fresh-brewed beer-lovers have some other options around the Grand Strand for tasting locally made house brews. Liberty Steakhouse & Brewery has locations at Broadway at the Beach and one a couple of blocks from Ocean Reef where popular local beers are brewed. Happy hour is from 4 to 8 p.m. weekdays and features $2 pints of all Liberty's best house beers.
Gordon Beirsch at Market Common and Quigley's Pint & Plate in Pawleys Island also serve their own line of brews, and there are lots of bars that specialize in providing rare microbrews to their customers, like Atlas Tap House in downtown Myrtle Beach, Mellow Mushroom near Broadway at the Beach, and Pine Lakes Tavern and Fire & Smoke Gastropub near Ocean Reef.
Of course, you can always kick back with a cold one at the Ocean Reef's famous Ocean View Cafe, which has a wide selection of brews and an incredible view of the Atlantic. And it's only a short walk back to your room and your private balcony. Whether you consider yourself a beer snob or a Joe Six-Pack, everyone loves to relax at the Ocean Reef in Myrtle Beach.