Sunday, September 18, 2022

Myrtle Beach: Beer to Be Had

Can you expect to have a beach vacation that includes great beer destinations as well? It certainly works in a city such as San Diego, where craft beer spots are easy to find throught Ocean, Mission, and Pacific Beaches, as well as further up into Carlsbad, Ocanside, and San Clemente. But what if you find yourself in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where over 100 golf courses attract retirees and groups of dudes armed with cigars and Michelob Ultra in the spring and fall, and where summer is a destinaton for families from all over the east coast who will wait two+ hours for all you can eat crab legs. Not much room for craft beer there...Or is there?

There is, of course. A number of breweries are spread throughout the Grand Strand, which runs roughly 60 miles from Georgetown to Little River. I'm focusing mainly on beer bars for this piece, places you can go to at night while the non-delinquent tourists go to bed at 7 pm so they can stake out a good spot at the beach at sunrise, though there are many breweries worth a day visit, including New South, voted "most likely to be found anywhere on tap" by me. Started in the late 90s, their White Ale and IPA are stalwarts in the area. Grand Strand Brewing, Tidal Creek Brewhouse, Independent Republic, and Crooked Hammock up in North Myrtle await your judgement. Also in NMB but not featured here are beer bars Main Street Taphouse and World of Beer, both with lots of draft offerings.

Let's start in the city proper, where small but rowdy spots dot the streets between Highway 17 Business and the high rise hotels overlooking the beach. Atlas Tap House has managed to serve those looking for their craft fix since 2014. A homey atmosphere awaits, along with 30 beers on tap. There is always a mix of local, national, and taps you wouldn't expect to find. For example, on a recent visit I found beers from Coast in nearby Charleston, a pickle sour from Prairie, and a DIPA from The Veil. Their taps often have a number of stouts available, and if you're lucky you might be there when Westbrook Mexican Cake is on tap.

A short walk from Atlas, (and I mean short: 164 feet) Bumstead's Pub is a favorite of locals and sports fans, and sports fans who are locals. That doesn't mean you're only going to find buckets of Bud Light or Corona; rather, as Bumstead's caters to craft beers fans as well. The beers lean more on the macro side as far as draft but there are over 100 bottles and cans to choose from, with a varied import selection. Become a local and join the Beer Around the World Club, where you try all the offerings Bumstead's has within a year and get a t-shirt and a plaque on the Bumstead's Wall of Fame. Better yet- try to achieve the goal while visiting on vacation.

Looking for cans to drink in your room? Myrtle Beach has a few places. Green's has a smallish selection but there are usually a few things worth taking home. Total Wine has the best singles selection by far of anywhere in the area, but as you already know, check the dates!! I went away with a can dated 8/10 and the IPA was awful. Looked again and it was canned 8/10/2020! IF you don't mind traveling a bit from Myrtle Beach, the Lowe's grocery store in Carolina Forest (pictured) has a good craft selection as well as a bar with growler fills available.

Staying south of the bustle of Myrtle Beach? Stop by the Gordon Biersch in the Market Common area (kind of like what Winrock is supposed to eventually be, though Market Common actually happened) for decent lagers. The now closed Piggly Wiggly used to be the go-to for diehard craft fans but closed a few years ago. That same beer manager ended up at the Surfside Beach Pig, but I'm sad to say the selection pales compared to the old place. It still beats the heck out of the Food Lion and Kroger down the street, but a larger singles selection would be a bonus. You can still find plenty to keep you busy here.

Marshwalk, anyone? Drinking abounds along this boardwalk in the sleepy yet lively at the same time town of Murrell's Inlet. The Marshwalk allows you easy access to many restaurants and bars, though only one place really is a craft destination: Inlet Beer Garden. THere are 60 taps of local-centric with some national beers as well, with a good showing from the Charleston breweries. Recently had a Telstar XX from Charles Towne Fermentory and thought it was the best beer of the trip. Note: The Beer Garden is only accessible from the Marshwalk. It is located behind The Claw House restaurant.

New to the Murrell's Inlet as of November 2021. Cap'n Cork is a combination wine shop/bar and beer bar. Don't let the location in a strip mall scare you off; this place features a well thought out beer list with a variety of styles. and my last visit had beers from Charlotte standouts Resident Culture and Olde Mecklenberg, as well as VA's Triple Crossing and NY's Equilibrium. You can also entice your beer hating friend to come along for the wine.

Final verdict: It's possible to find decent offering in the Myrtle Beach area, though you may not find the most hyped hazies or BA stouts. Will not, to be more exact. But there's an ocean to play in, and if you're lucky you might catch it on a rough day. I got knocked around pretty good there and had a great time. No beer necessary.

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