Beer brewers bringing business to the Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - From brewing beer to buying it, the craft beer scene is growing on the Grand Strand, bringing new business and tourists to the town.

Beer brewers compare it to the culture surrounding wine, saying more people now expect craft beer behind the bar. Business is brewing at the beach - with a number of new bars and stores just recently opening to keep up with the demand.

The Homebrewer's Pantry just opened in Conway, it's the only store within 100 miles made specifically for beer brewers.

"There's probably 3,000 recipes for IPAs," says owner Thomas Lucas. He explains the craft of making beer is evolving: it's not just pouring back domestics, but about experimenting, creating and tasting.

"I'd hate to say beer snobs are not as snooty as wine snobs, but we're getting to be that way," Lucas said.

The craft beer community is growing on the Grand Strand.

"We're going to have a commercial brew and a home brew of the same style so you can come in and taste a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and this is a pale ale that I made, and realize wow, I can make something that tastes good at home," Lucas said.

While you can brew your own at home - you can also buy craft beer at a number of bars tapping into the trend.

"Every state has a craft beer to offer, and we're finding out quickly that North Carolina, South Carolina have a lot of good beers to offer," said Aaron Gifford, co-owner of the Atlas Tap House, which just opened in Myrtle Beach and offers 90 craft beers.

Gifford says Atlas offers "some things people have never heard of before, and we love to push New South because people aren't aware they have such a good brewery so close by."

New South is a staple in the craft beer community, and already listed as a top tour on Trip Advisor - with the brewery, bars, and Homebrewer's Pantry, Lucas believes the beer will bring even more tourists to town.

"If my wife and I do it, there has to be thousands that go out of their way just to do it," Lucas said. "Our very first customer here at the Pantry was coming from Columbia to vacation at the beach, but they went another route to come here to check out the home brew store."

While officials here on the Grand Strand are in the works to bring another big brewery to town - there will also be a Beer Fest this weekend at the House of Blues.

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