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The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium

Not Rated.
The Flying Saucer Draught EmporiumThe Flying Saucer Draught Emporium
BA SCORE
86
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 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 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 TurdFurgison
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%

If you've been to one Flying Saucer you've been to them all, or at least you know what to expect. Lots of taps, usually deals on local beers, plaid skirts with knee-high socks, passable food. You can generally find something pretty special on tap (2009 Abbey St Bon Chien this time) and lots of very solid beers of many styles.

Convenient to downtown hotels, this was only a 2 block walk from the Hampton Inn. Columbia looks like a sleepy town to me, and although a World of Beer just opened (never stepped foot inside) Flying Saucer is an easy and reliable choice.

TurdFurgison, Jan 26, 2012
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 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
Photo of Mantooth
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%

Mantooth, Jul 18, 2014
Photo of ZEB89
4/5  rDev +2.8%

ZEB89, May 23, 2014
Photo of CraigTravor
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%

CraigTravor, Aug 13, 2014
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 Ant4711
3.5/5  rDev -10%

Ant4711, Jul 08, 2014
Photo of Robyn
3.5/5  rDev -10%

Robyn, Aug 18, 2014
Photo of Pearlstreetbrewingco
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%

Pearlstreetbrewingco, Jan 04, 2014
Photo of HuntDaddy540
4/5  rDev +2.8%

HuntDaddy540, Apr 28, 2014
Photo of ADTaber
4/5  rDev +2.8%

ADTaber, Jun 24, 2014
Photo of ocmpoma
3.6/5  rDev -7.5%

visited on 28 Nov 09:

Stopped by the Flying Saucer after dinner while in town visiting a friend for Thanksgiving. After stopping at a couple of disappointing bars down in the Five Points area earlier in the weekend, I was looking forward to Columbia's premier beer bar. It wasn't as good as I expected, though.

Granted, it was on a Saturday after a big USC game, but the bar was not overly crowded -- there were more than a few empty tables. Service was still slow; I had polished off my pint (a German hefe poured into normal US pint glass) well before our waitress returned to see how we were doing. She also took a bit to come back and tell one of us that the Tripel Karmeliet ordered was not available, recommending a Tres Pistoles instead... So, in addition to an at-best average experience and an overall vibe that just didn't work for me, but my major gripe was that their vast number of taps were taken up with what for me are a lot of stand-bys or US pale ales. In other words, most of the beers I would like to have on tap were available only in bottles because the pale ales, etc. were eating the tap slots.

That said, this place is head and shoulders above the other bars we stopped at in town. So, while I was disappointed, I'd still head there if I was in the area and wanted some brews on tap.

ocmpoma, Nov 30, 2009
Photo of jaswilson2
4/5  rDev +2.8%

jaswilson2, May 21, 2014
Photo of ZenAgnostic
4.14/5  rDev +6.4%

Noticeably smaller than the Flying Saucer in Austin, TX. Otherwise, pretty much the exact same menu aside from a different selection of local/regional brews.

Not cheap. The constantly rotating "fire sales" on the chalkboard are your best bet for getting a good beer at a decent price.

While this place has a pretty big number of beers, my main beef with it is that any beer geek has probably had the vast majority of them. Their craft beer selection seems to come straight from the shelves of Albertsons or some low end beer store.

On the plus side, they did have a nice selection of Trappist beers. Pretty much one from each brewery except for Westvletern, obviously.

Worth going to if you're in the area and want some craft beer you've probably had before. Otherwise, your best shot at finding something new is just to hit up Green's beer store.

ZenAgnostic, Sep 18, 2011
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 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 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 Kenyon
2.88/5  rDev -26%

Ok, I know the Saucer is a great place but the last visit was disappointing. The World Beer Festival was in Columbia last weekend and as usual for the last 6 years three of us in the retail beer end of things attended and as usual the first stop Friday was the Saucer. Sat at the bar and perused the draught beer list. Great, several excellent beer appeared there. We ordered one, "sorry we are out of that one" order another, same answer. We went through 5 selections before we found an excellent beer but not a stellar "we done get this very often" selection. We asked why those several stellar beers weren't available and the answer was "well the World Beer Festival is inn town". This is Friday afternoon, not Saturday night. Someone planned very poorly in the ordering department. Next, in years past the Saucer has replacement kegs for a tap when the serving keg was empty. Maybe a different selection but at least a new offering. This year they just put golf club covers over the empty kegs and had fewer offerings. Finally, unlike last year when Sam Adams was raffling off tastes of Utopia and there were lots of brewers and brewery reps around the Saucer, this year there was very little going on.

Later that night we did find a couple of stellar beers and several brewery reps and brewers but the were all next door at the World of Beer.

We will be back next year and hope that the beer festival is as good as it was this year and that the Saucer is back to its previous outstanding self.

Kenyon, Jan 25, 2014
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 huntermop
3/5  rDev -22.9%

huntermop, Jun 03, 2014
Photo of jshusc
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%

jshusc, Aug 05, 2014
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
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The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium in Columbia, SC
86 out of 100 based on 47 ratings.