When my family and I rolled into the parking lot of the Bay Watch Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, my main objective was to scope out the local beer scene. Soon enough, the goals of my soon-to-be wife and sister-in-law became combing the beaches for shells.
Eventually, it became obvious our quests were more similar than they may seem. In spite of how hard we looked for our respective treasures, more likely than not, we ended up with the same unsatisfying result. For them, it was piles of generic orange or white shells. For me, it was can after can of Heineken and Yuengling. And those were the better options.
The poolside bar staff was hardly aware of any local breweries, period, so them serving local brews was out of the question. At the bar in the resort’s second building, SweetWater Brewing Company‘s 420 Pale was offered on tap, which was nice but still was not the local flavor I was looking for.
Despite Sierra Nevada Brewing Company being just four hours inland, it seemed the local beer scene was even more fruitless than the painfully over picked patches of seashells my fiance and her sister were searching through.
A little research and a conversation with a gentleman at a cigar shop pointed me in the right direction, however. And before I knew it, I was heading down the highway with visions of fruity pales, dank IPAs and crisp lagers and pilsners dancing in my head. If the two breweries I had been pointed to were to pan out, it would be like a tropical Christmas in May.
1109 Campbell St, Myrtle Beach, SC
Drop the above address in your GPS and you’ll be taken through a postcard-worthy cross-section of Myrtle Beach, complete with perfectly manicured lawns and the accompanying perfectly maintained modular homes all neatly tucked in a row. If you approach the brewery from North Myrtle, like I did, you’ll be brought by Myrtle Beach High School’s campus which puts many small four-year colleges to shame as well as several golf courses and generally top notch living environments.
You’ll be asked to make a turn down a smaller road near some storage units and before you know it, you’ll think you’re lost. The buildings are older, the sidewalks disappear and seemingly out of nowhere, chain link fences topped with barbed wire spring up. But if you stay the course, you will be rewarded with the greatness of this quaint little brewery, tucked inside a big tin warehouse.
The city’s only production brewery, New South offers a small, intimate taproom with a dozen or so stools at the bar, high top tables in the front and a small sitting area off to the side. The best non-beer part of the brewery, however, is the additional seating in the back. Complete with a Foosball table and second bar, this extra seating is smack dab in the middle of the brewing floor. You can sit and sip NSBC’s fine ales in the shadow of the fermenters in which said ales were made. It’s an experience many would have to pay extra for at a larger brewery but here, all it costs is a beer.
As for the beers, the brewery offers its flagships, a nut brown and Belgian style witbier. But what steals the show is the Dirty Myrtle, a 9% ABV, 90 IBU double IPA. The beer pours a fizzy, hazy gold with a thin head and tons of citrus and hop pine on the nose. Upfront, the beer is sweet and refreshing but the sweetness is followed up by a a hoppy dryness die-hard hop heads lust over. Complete with a pink flamingo tap handle, the Dirty Myrtle is just the beer you want to crack open and enjoy on the beach.
Also worth the trip is the Star Wars themed Java the Nut, a coffee infused brown ale, the Dark Star American porter and the Waccamaw Red Ale.
1321 Celebrity Cir, Myrtle Beach, SC
For those looking for a more family-friendly environment to enjoy some local brews, Liberty Brewery & Grill is more your speed. With one location at the center of Broadway at the Beach, the venue is a brewpub offering dining options for the entire family wrapped around a brewery with four huge glass walls so visitors can watch the brewers at work while enjoying eats such as the phenomenal bacon, onion and cheese dip or one of the eatery’s several burger or pizza options.
As for the beer, Liberty offers beers ranging from light, American-style lagers, to Irish stouts, fruit beers, DIPAs and more. Beer of the night went to the DIPA, Back to the Citra, a Back to the Future inspired double IPA bursting at the hinges of its DeLorean with its 88 ounces of citra hops and 88 lbs. of honey. The citra hops play off the sweetness of the honey to deliver a tart yet sweet beer with a silky smooth mouth feel and taste. To really drive the Marty McFly nature of this beer home, the brewers made sure to clock this beer in at 8.8% ABV, 88 IBUs.
When it comes to size, Liberty trumps NSBC by a lot. Part of a regional chain of eateries known as the Homegrown Hospitality Group, the Broadway brewery is one of two Liberty breweries, operated in conjunction with four taphouses, several seafood and chop houses, a desert cafe, a public market and an inn.
Together, these restaurants pool resources and profits in support of the Tbonz Foundation, the charitable entity within HHG. According to the group’s website, a percentage of the chain’s gross profits goes back into the communities in which they serve.
In full disclosure, I was in Myrtle Beach for a family function with my in-laws so aside from the breweries, I wasn’t able to check out any great bars. If you’ve been to Myrtle, let us know about the great beer bars or restaurants you’ve been to in the comments below.