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The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium

Not Rated.
The Flying Saucer Draught EmporiumThe Flying Saucer Draught Emporium
BA SCORE
88
very good

47 Ratings
Ratings: 47
Reviews: 34
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 12.34%
Taps: 24
Bottles: 30
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

931 Senate St
Columbia, South Carolina, 29201-3153
United States
phone: (803) 933-9712

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @flyingsaucercol

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: GCBrewingCo)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 47 | Reviews: 34 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of theghost3
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%

The Flying Saucer is definitely a college bar. Just walk in the Columbia location, and you'll see what I mean. Lots of cute girls & frat guys. They also have a sort of hall of fame where they list the names of people who have had 200+ varieties of beer there.

Quality is good. I had a Victory Moonglow in the bottle, and it was very fresh. The taps lines seemed clean as well. The service was a bit lacking. Inattentive, and a little on the flakey side with comments like, you know that's a bottled beer, right?

Selection is excellent--Avery, Victory, Highland, Carolina as well as lots of German & English beers. Then again, anything is better than Louisiana. The food's pretty good too. There's the typical bar stuff--hamburgers, pizza, and sandwiches. There are also cheese pairing boards.

Overall, a pretty decent experience.

theghost3, Mar 17, 2009
Photo of Gyle41386
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%

Atmosphere is pretty good. The location in the Vista makes for a pretty nice mix of people, always a welcome change from the overall belligerent attitude of the Five Points crowd. Pint Night on Monday is obviously a different story, as can be expected when pints of delicious beer are a mere $2.75.

I think the selection of beers is outstanding, particularly for South Carolina. I like being able to line up Victory Prima Pils, Heavy Seas Loose Cannon, Allagash White, Bear Republic Red Rocket, and Young's Double Chocolate Stout. It's all the names you're familiar with from being a BA. The pre-selected flights and build your own flights are also great ways to try something new without having to worry about being stuck with a pint of something you don't enjoy.

Service isn't great, but it's also not poor. Yeah, the girls wear skanky outfits. It's nice, but it doesn't make up for them being slow. On Pint Nite, I can understand it. On the plus side, the waitresses I've had have all been pretty knowledgeable. I don't care if they're just mentioning stuff the guy at the last table ordered, at least they're being helpful.

I don't care for the food here at all. If I'm eating at Saucer, it's going to be appetizers. The giant pretzels are a personal favorite.

Pint Nite is a great value. The firesale special is a great value as well. If it's not on special, I'm unfortunately not ordering it. I'm giving it 3 dollar signs. I was torn between 2 and 3, then I remembered what you pay for the food.

Gyle41386, Jan 22, 2009
Photo of HeyItsChili
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%

The atmosphere has been pretty good the times I've been there, but can get a bit swollen with USC Law douchebags and people spouting off about high gravity beers without knowing anything more than the ABV of the brew they're seeking.
Good quality selection, and the service leaves little to be desired. The food is pretty pedestrian. My only complaint about the selection is that it seems that they focused on having a set list of all the important beers a quality beer bar would have, but without the inventiveness and dynamism that are present in some of the ever shifting, seasonal-aware venues that I prefer. I might also like more domestic microbrews, but that's a trifling complaint.

HeyItsChili, Jan 06, 2009
Photo of felipesegundo
4.13/5  rDev +6.2%

This place is great to try and find new favorite beers. I have been frequenting this bar for several years, but only recently joined their beer club. I could have finished the list twice by now. But the food is pretty good, they have lunch specials every day and they have a lunch card that gets you a free meal every 7, not bad. When I go, it's pretty much to drink great tasting beer, have fun with friends, and gawk at the beer goddesses. What else you need in life? This place is definitely one of my favorites to hit when I do get a night out. See ya there!

felipesegundo, Oct 21, 2008
Photo of mikesgroove
3.58/5  rDev -8%

Ok, so I make my first trip down to Columbia in a good long while and since I am actually staying for a couple days, I make it my mission to check out a few places along the way. First up had to be the saucer, as I have heard a ton about this place. Walk in during the panthers game and the place was seriously pretty dead for what I would think it would be. No matter I cozy up to the bar, and this is where i will differ with most. I was a bit underwhelmed with the tap list I have to admit. Most everything was fairly common. Those of you who know me, know that if I hit up an Andygator, it was relatively common. Still over two hundred beers with alot of focus on imports, and almost complete lineups from Abita, Highland, Thomas Creek, North Coast and Great Divide. Food was rather bland, with the burge just being plain average. Service was good though, but seriously I asked for seasonals and everything was Summerfest?

Overall this was a bit dissapointing for me. I was used to Barleys and Thirsty Monk, Brick Store, and really good beer bars, and I think they are a little to Mainstream Craft Scene if that is even a term, Anyway Not bad and if this is the best Columbia has, then its ok.

mikesgroove, Sep 08, 2008
Photo of velkyal
4.2/5  rDev +8%

Visited Flying Saucer a couple of times last summer when visiting SC with my fiancee, and when we move to Columbia next year, it will definately be a regular haunt.

With an extensive range of British ales, including the magnificent Fraoch, Fuller's London Pride and the sublime Young's Double Chocolate Stout, Flying Saucer has everything for the ale drinker.

I particularly enjoyed the sample trays which introduced me to the delights of American beer - which has a poor press in Europe due to ignorance.

I only ever got superb service, though I wonder how much of that was due to the fact I am Scottish and have an "accent".

Even so, this is a great pub.

velkyal, Jun 18, 2008
Photo of hellomcfly
4.15/5  rDev +6.7%

Probably my most often visited beer joint in Columbia. They have a great selection with tons of beer on draft and in bottles. They have a fire-sell beer every day offered at $2.75. I've seen things like Sierra Nevada Celebration, Bigfoot, and Kasteel Brune for fire sell. They have Carolina pint night on Sunday (anything brewed in SC or NC priced at $2.75) and a regular pint night on Monday where almost everything on tap is $2.75. On Wednesday night they have glass night where you keep the glass to a specific beer.

I'd probably best describe the food at saucer as average. Some things are better than others. I've never had anything I would call bad there. Their burgers are pretty good.

Service is usually fine but I've had a few really slow waitresses. Service does get a plus since they wear nice "beer goddess" uniforms.

They also sell glasses leftover from glass nights for $2. I picked up a nice Corsendonk tulip and North Coast snifter this way.

hellomcfly, Apr 22, 2008
Photo of harpo111
4.58/5  rDev +17.7%

Oh my goodness!! 200 differnt beers in one place is enought to make you have a serious beergasm! They had pint night on monday, and firesales on great stuff tuesday and wednesday...I wish i lived in columbia..i could get used to this place. The bar help were very knowledgeable and the service was great. I will definately be dropping in again.
They have a nice menu of food, nightly specials...and they have a firesale each night with whatever it is on sale for 2.75 a pint...can't beat that. They have a beerknurd terminal where you can keep up with what you have tried. Glassware for sale, tshirts...girls in miniskirts waiting tables...yes a college boys dream...too bad i am past 40...
For the beerhog ...this is nirvanna....no much more you could ask for. They have a lot of odd beers too and supposedly rotate things...so you might find something new. But at a count of 200+...it will take a while to get through them all.

harpo111, Mar 17, 2008
Photo of MTNboy
4.2/5  rDev +8%

Atmosphere- I was frequenting this place quite a bit on my last stay in Columbia. I have to say that I really love this bar. It is fun, very beer orientated, great music on the weekends and there are plenty of fun themed nights. I love glass night on Wednesday.

Quality & Quantity- They about 200 beers on their changing menu over if you include the beer mixed drinks. Also everything is always fresh.

Selection- Is great. There are lots of different imports and micros from all over the country. They have plenty of samplers called saucers that have a wide variety of beer or you can create your own this is perfect for some one who gets on this site.

Service- Is usually great and most of the waitresses are cute to hot. I had bad service one time and I had not seen the waitress since. She was super rude and did not know anything about beer and slow. Like I said I did not ever see her after that night. Blair is great and seems to know her crap.

Food- I eat here a lot and I have no complaints. The turkey sandwich is great.

Value- A little pricey but all the bars in the Vista are.

MTNboy, Feb 05, 2008
Photo of khiasmus
4.63/5  rDev +19%

As you can see from my avatar, I've patronized the saucer once or twice. It's not the best bar, but it's got the most beer, at least here in Columbia. Things have changed since these last reviews... the staff have to sample the beers, review them, and learn about styles now, and the menu is set up by style with prices right next to the selections. If you go, eat. the food is amazing. From my favourite chicken sandwich in the world (the kick-ass chicken) to an excellent spicy beer-cheese soup, to brats that make german bars jealous... the food is GOOD. Ok, so for the beer. We can't get beers over 6%ABV in South Carolina, at least not legally. (if you're here, and want to know where you can, then message me:-) With that taken into consideration, the flying saucer is the best place to go for beer. They do have a bunch of old standbys, but they try to keep beers from as many countries as possible. Don't go anywhere near any bar after a USC game. And don't go to the saucer to see the eighties cover bands that frequent it either... unless you want to stand in an aisle for 30 minutes just trying to mosh your way to the bathroom. We always sit on the patio, even in freezing temperatures, they drop these clear plastic sheets down over the windows and turn on a big heater... it's comfortable. Go on a Monday night, almost all drafts are $2.50. Oh, and the waitresses... you need to see for yourself. Hopefully I'll see you at the next table!

khiasmus, Feb 25, 2007
Photo of slander
3.6/5  rDev -7.5%

Just a block or two from the brewpub I just left, easy enough to find. I'm expecting to find this Flying Saucer to be similar in concept yet different in selection from the location I've visited in Houston, although hopefully the range of beer is a constant. What with the "space ship crashing into the building" motif from yesterday's pizza adventure in Asheville, and a place called the Flying Saucer today, I have to wonder if there's a preoccupation with UFO's in the South. Assuming the worst, I will have to refrain from having more than 2 beers here and be on my guard as not to become a victim of alien abduction again...

Big open room with high, high ceilings. An "L'ish" stainless steel topped bar to one side seats 15, looking over some 81 taps alternating on 2 rows (upper, lower, upper, lower, upper) on the pennyback panel wall running the length of the bar. 90+ bottles displayed from end to end above the dark wood bar back unit, lined with spruce & white strung lighting, and spaced stockings & Xmas ball ornaments. "Just landed" bottles & taps board located centrally above, with smaller longer boards to both sides listing wines & daily specials. Wines displayed up there, and a sign reading "Amateurs request frosted mugs" as well. Phil's golf game (complete) and a pair of dart boards in a nook wrapped around the corner of the bar. Flatscreens mounted in all the corners, and decorative plates of all sizes, shapes and patterns covering the walls and ceiling. Angled trim above holds numbered name plates with cutesy quotes or one liners of people who've completed the mug club quota. The walls wood slat lowers with painted yellow uppers, large checkerboard floors in light/dark blue, drop glass star lamps and lighting on ceiling fans. 2 dozen booths & tables throughout the room and a some couches & easy chairs, plus a few more in the elevated areas to the rear separated off by railings with end pillars holding potted plants, and nearly a dozen and a half picnic tables in an outdoorish plastic tent wall seating area along the entranceway beyond.

They've got a 3 page beer menu, differentiating first draught from bottled, then secondarily by pale, amber & dark, and then by country. The list here is dated for Fall 2006, so done seasonally, I cannot expect it to hold any great accuracy which would explain the "just landed" board above the bar. The beer menu shows roughly half the taps as being American micros, with a dozen and a half of them local/regional (Charleston, Palmetto, Thomas Creek, Duck Rabbit, Highland, Carolina, Terrapin, RJ Rockers), and then elsewhere (Rogue, Sierra Nevada, Flying Dog, Sam Adams, Harpoon, Abita, Red Hook, Shipyard). The rest of the tap list is made up of mostly standard and blah imports and some macros, ciders and a root beer.

The bottled list is also heaviest on the American micros, with a decent collection of Germans and English, and then the obligatory beers of the world (There once was a Lager from Lima...), macros, maltos, ciders and N/A's. They offer a variety of flights ("The Carolinas", "UK & Ireland", "USA", "Germany", etc), and beer mixers, if that's your thing (in which case, please go sit over there by yourself). Also, there's a pricing key on the cover of the menu with symbols that you need a secret decoder ring to decipher. I spun the (rigged) wheel in my head and it landed on the Highland Oatmeal Porter.

Beer was fresh, just a chore getting it because the service gods were frowning on me. And, it's dankish here. Okay, here's the thing. It's Saturday, early afternoon, the place is dead empty and smells like, well, it just doesn't smell very good here and I'm a garbageman with no nose. Doesn't anyone else smell that? Not cool. Good beer here, but overall, it just wasn't...

slander, Feb 16, 2007
Photo of Ozone
3.15/5  rDev -19%

First, I admit that I visited on a Saturday night in the wake of a USC football victory over Florida, so I can't say my experience was typical. As others have written, this bar is large, with some picnic tables out front that are closed in during colder months, & I assume exposed to open air otherwise.

When you enter, there is a long bar with all the taps along the right hand wall, & a recessed area with tables takes up most of the rest of the space. There was an extremely large TV at the far end the night I was there, but I'm not sure if it's a permanent fixture or a seasonal thing. The Flying Saucer that night was packed with college aged folks, many of whom were smoking.

Service was pretty awful, but it was an atypical night, so on a weeknight it's probably better. The server did not know anything about beer or the beer list, which was arranged by country as others have said. Service was so slow (busy with other patrons), we learned to order our next beers as soon as she delivered the previous order.

Availability of beers on the list is my major complaint. I ordered no fewer than 7 (I was looking for IPA's & other hoppy brews) before I found one they had on hand. I ended up drinking several beers I can find at my corner store back home, & the selection there is good but not expansive.

Still, I'll go back to give this place another chance, partly because of the mayhem that night, but mainly because there aren't many places in SC that at least claim to have a lot of beers on hand. In other words, around here, you have to do what you can to support the "100 taps" business model.

Ozone, Apr 13, 2006
Photo of gbarron
4/5  rDev +2.8%

This is undoubtedly the place to go drink beer while in Columbia, SC. It's essentially one large room filled with booths, tables, and long bar. Although smoking is permitted (it's a college town, come on), the ceiling is very high and they have lots of fans going, making it pretty tolerable. The clientele is a college crowd, but the night I was there, it was a seemingly older group and generally pretty normal (this was on a Tuesday night, however).

The beer selection, given South Carolina's neo-prohibitionist laws, is outstanding. They have approximately 75 taps and nearly twice that many bottled brews. The selection is pretty varied and their beer list is sorted by country. They had several standard large micros like Sierra Nevada PA and Porter, Sam Adams, Rogue Dead Guy and Brown Nectar. Wide selection of draft imports as well. The bottled selection had some nice rare finds and several beers I had never heard of, including a few German rauchbiers, Belgians, etc. They had one neat feature on their menu called 'flights.' Basically for around $7 or so you could try six or seven five ounce samples of beers centered around a theme - i.e., American Micros, English/Irish Beers, etc. You could even make up your own flight of beers.

They also had about a dozen or so local/regional micros from the S. Carolina/Georgia/N. Carolina area.

We sat at the bar and the two bartenders were very attentive despite the place being pretty crowded. They were also very familiar with the beer list - we didn't have to say Pilsner Urquell or Fuller's ESB twice. Prices were very reasonable, most of the very good imports and American micros were in the $4.25 to $4.75 range.

As far as comments below on the waitstaff, yes, it is true, they were some cute little outfits - basically short plaid skirts and tank tops - that are nice to look at. However, it is not a hooters type joint, the place seemed pretty upscale for a college bar, frankly.

If in Columbia and you are looking for a big beer selection, this is the place to go.

I did not try any food, but the menu appeared to be your standard bar food fare.

gbarron, Feb 22, 2006
Photo of kingjames1
4.22/5  rDev +8.5%

This is part of a chain, but well worth checking out nonetheless. If in Columbia, be sure to swing by. The beer selection was really good, especially considering the rather limited availability of good beers in South Carolina (thanks to 'the cap') -- though I was disappointed that they did not have Paulaner Oktoberfest available.

I was very impressed with the atmosphere - very cool. The service was slightly slow, but helpful and informed. Oh, and despite some of the horndog comments in previous posts, this is NOT a Hooters type experience, thankfully.

The food, well, ours was quite greasy. Over all, definitely a cool place. Now, if only SC would lift the cap...

kingjames1, Nov 28, 2005
Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.9/5  rDev +0.3%

I visited the Saucer on a Wed afternoon around 530 or so. It wasnt very busy when I got there but patrons soon flooded. It still wasnt overly busy. The only thing dissappointing about this place was the service. I was promptly greeted when I walked in and asked for a moment to paruse the draft and bottle offerings. Mistake! After what seemed like 10 minutes, the bartender served me a Rogue Choc Stout. No head was formed due to a poor pour (I watched intently). The menu said $4.75 (Im not sure if it was for a pint or 23 oz glass but I was served in a pint) but he charged me $5. The guy next to me got a 23 oz. [It was Highland Oatmeal Porter] beer for $3.75, which was the menu price (again, not sure if that is for pint or 23 oz.). So a little confusion on price and serving size.

I was empty about 3 minutes before being approached again. If you want a refill of water, you must ask. They will just look at your glass half full of ice and wonder what was supposed to be in there but not refill it.

I had the pretzels with cheese and spicy mustard and they were really good. Fairly priced too.

Everyone was nice and the waitresses wore naughtly school girl outfits. Yummmmy! I love a naughty catholic girl. Definitely recommended for the beer and pretzels, but service needs to step up a bit.

They also have a Flying Saucer club wherein one pays $14 dollars for a shirt and membership and then attempts to drink all 200 beers, or atleast 200 beers I guess. They would then be rewarded with a party in his or her honor and a plaque on the wall. Lets see, 10 beers a day, 20 days...

SaCkErZ9, Oct 27, 2005
Photo of Nesued
4.35/5  rDev +11.8%

On tap:

76 beers, 3 ciders, 1 root-beer

Bottled:

120 beers, 4 ciders, 4 non-alcholic brews.

I've been living in Columbia for at fifteen years now and am well pleased with the introduction of a Flying Saucer to Columbia.

The variety of options is quite good, with many unexpected brews available on-tap. This allows a nice "what shall I try today?" experience.

With an outside, under-cover seating area, the spring/fall/winter drinking experiences tend to add a more friendly "communal" environment. However "summers in South Carolina" pretty much leave this area a sauna.

With a 23oz glass option for any beer during the "happy hour" time period, the value of drinking a beer you enjoy is almost doubled. However, if you are in a "searching" mode, you may be "stuck" with more than you want, of something you don't like.

I have "mixed feelings" regarding the food, and I find that the only weekness of this Flying Saucer. While the "beer food" is very good, the sandwiches are a bit of a disappointment. On two occasions I tried their sandwiches (the "pastrami reuben-esque" the first time and the "Turkey Meltdown" the second) and were not overly impressed. The "beer food" selections are very good, and compliment the variety of brews present. Specifically the Chips and Queso goes well with the brown ales available (there's even a bowl of salsa that comes with it) and also the "Big Soft Pretzels" add a more "Germanic" feel to outdoor dining.

I must comment on the waitresses, and digress to a purely "male-perspective" for the moment. The added value of a girl wearing a short plaid skirt and a rather "form-fitting" top emblazoned with "beer-goddess" serving you adds a bit more "spice" to a drinking establishment.

Kudos.

Nesued, Oct 15, 2005
Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.28/5  rDev +10%

The Flying Saucer in Columbia is a very nice place. It has a large covered patio as you enter and the exterior is pretty easy to spot due to the flaming gas torches. It is about 1/2 a block off Gervais street.

The interior is cavernous in size. The tables are large and the ceilings are very high. Even though the table next door was smoking, the smell did not permeate my clothes.

The service was pretty good, could have been slightly better, but nothing to complain about. The selection was huge for Columbia, SC. Lots of great choices, all within their legal limit.

Beers were served for the price on the menu in 23 ounce glasses for some reason. You would think that would be a plus, but only being able to drink two beers before you have to call it a night and head out was a little dissapointing. Much better IMO are the standard 16 ounce pints you find elsewhere.

The food was very good, but the size of the portion was very small for the amount paid.

The Flying Saucer gets high marks all around. I'll definitely stop back in when in Columbia.

GCBrewingCo, Dec 07, 2003
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The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium in Columbia, SC
88 out of 100 based on 47 ratings.