Cottontown Brew Lab is creating a buzz in Columbia, and fans may soon have a place to enjoy the popular product straight from the source.
The production-only microbrewery is planning an expansion of its 1223 Franklin St. building to include a wraparound deck. The deck will act as a temporary tasting room while renovations continue on the inside of the former garage.
Plans for the inside of the brewery include a more formal tasting room, full kitchen and restaurant.
Owner Zack Jones said the project is being proposed to the city planning commission, but there is no timeline for when either project will begin.
“The thought of a deck appealed to me, and the builder said he could do the job quickly,” Owens said.
Jones said the deck would measure between 10-to-12 feet away from the Sumter Street side of the building and run along the side of the property. It would include an overhang and portable fans to keep patrons cool.
“That size still gives us some grass space for games, like cornhole, and a privacy fence to help keep the tranquility of the neighborhood,” Jones said.
Brandon Evans, Cottontown Brew Lab’s head brewer, said the deck will allow for a variety of sample beers. Evans said a mobile setup on the deck could accommodate close to 10 different beers.
“All we need is somewhere for people to come, a couple of bathrooms and a kitchen for DHEC (specifications),” Evans said. “We’re an establishment serving alcohol, and that means a lot more rules and regulations. We understand that.”
Evans said the kitchen will start small, serving things such as hot dogs and chips. Jones said food trucks will be on site at times to help provide food for customers. The inside tap room is expected to have a full kitchen and a restaurant.
“This deck gives me the freedom to start putting out small batches (of beer) that only make three or four kegs,” Evans said. “When we get something with a great response, we can put it on the larger system and make sure it gets to all our accounts throughout the city.”
Evans said his product is being served in several Columbia restaurants. Cottontown Brew Lab currently has an agreement with Comer Distributing Company in Rock Hill, which distributes the beer in Columbia, Rock Hill and Aiken. Evans said a goal is to find distribution in Charleston and Greenville.
“We’re trying to keep the buzz strong until we can get that tasting room open,” Evans said. “Our Facebook feed is blowing up with people trying to schedule us for events. May was our highest-selling month so far.”
Evans said the brewery is currently producing and selling up to 40 barrels a month to local restaurants, where the brewery’s offerings are being found with increasing frequency.
One seasonal variety, a rose lager brewed with strawberries, peaches and hibiscus, is available at Cottontown neighbor Indah Coffee. Cottontown’s Bull Street Wheat is on tap at Pawley’s Front Porch in Five Points, and the brewery partnered with Motor Supply Co. to make a sour ale available to the Vista restaurant’s patrons last month.
The brewery launched its Carolina Crush session IPA at The Grand boutique bowling alley during a Pups and Pints event that drew dozens of people — and their dogs — to Main Street on May 30. Beer release events have also been held at Craft & Draft on Devine Street, Casual Pint in Lexington and BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse in Irmo.