Columbia Brew Bus is a safe way to get tours at each brewery in - DatelineCarolina

Columbia Brew Bus is a safe way to get tours at each brewery in Columbia

Sample flights are provided with your purchase of a Brew Bus ticket. Sample flights are provided with your purchase of a Brew Bus ticket.
The group was able to try "hops"! The group was able to try "hops"!
River Rat Brewery showed the group how they bottle their Craft Beers. River Rat Brewery showed the group how they bottle their Craft Beers.
By: Samantha Johannesen

Just one year ago, the "Stone Bill" passed. The law lifted restrictions on the Palmetto State's smaller beer brewing companies, changing the state's  brewery license regulations. This freed up small craft brewery businesses to grow in Columbia.

Columbia now has three breweries, and now there's even a bus to take people on a tour of them.

"You don't want to buy a bus and not have a use for it," co-owner Mike de Kozlowski said. de Kozlowski and two partners just happen to be University of South Carolina graduates.

The Columbia Brew Bus tours started the first week of November in 2014. It takes you to the three breweries in Columbia, Conquest Brewery, River Rat Brewery and the newest, Swamp Cabbage Brewing.

The bus is a safe way to drink craft beer that is exclusively at each brewery that people most likely never tried. You get to hang with your friends, play games...but most importantly learn about the process of brewing craft beer.

"For me, It's just about educating people about the caliber of beer that we have here in Columbia and how they're made. When people learn things on the tour, that's the most fun for me," Cameron Powell said.

Powell is the chief executive manager of the brew bus. de Kozlowski is the bus operations manager. He took everyone on a brief tour of the city pointing out landmarks like the Horseshoe and The State House Sunday. During the tour he explains to the riders what they will exact at their first stop, The River Rat Brewery.

The brewery set up a four beer sample flight for the group. After drinking the different beers, you have the opportunity to get a pint of any beer the brewery has to sample during the tour. Everyone is taken to where the beer is actually made, bottled, and put out for everyone to enjoy. You get to have this tour at each brewery.

"I love getting the tour. Even though I have done it over fifty times, each time I learn something new," Powell said.

Driver Leroy Prince enjoys the brew bus just as much as Powell. He may not drink the beer...but he does his best to make the ride enjoyable.

"I love the brew bus!" Prince stated.

After River Rat, the group made their way to Swamp Cabbage Brewing where they had a totally different experience. You get to try completely different beers like the Swamp Cabbage's Dunkelweisen and EBS.

This group was lucky enough to try a brand new IPA that hasn't even hit the taps yet. White IPA.

"This beer is definitely one I see myself drinking while I float down the river," one of the brew bus riders Bryson Schuster said.

Last but not least, the group hits the road to the last brewery, Conquest. Here the group is able to enjoy the entire brewery to themselves. They had life size Jenga and a new set of beers for everyone to try, like Coffee IPA and Sacred Heart IPA.

The Conquest tour guide let them actually taste hops, a huge part of making craft beer. The riders all felt like they looked and tasted like bird seeds.

The workers at the brewery have taken a liking to the brew bus as well.

"As long as you're drinking craft, we all win...and this is just booming. You know, letting more people know about craft's definitely a good thing," the Conquest tour guide said.

After the tour, the group is dropped off at Liberty Tap Room where they receive 20 percent off for just being a customer of the brew bus.

On the way de Kozlowski gives the group some trivia questions where they are able to win a prize! Since there were two couples, each couple won a bottle of the Sacred Heart IPA from Conquest Brewery.

The best part for some of the riders wasn't just the beer, it was discovering things they never knew about the beer process.

"I've learned way more than I ever thought I would," Mary Jackson, who came all the way from Virginia and decided to enjoy the brew bus on her vacation.

The brew bus intends to get the word out more about what they are and what they are doing. They hope to run more than just the weekend, and even extend out to wine cellars and distilleries one day.

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