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Hunter-Gatherer Brewery and Ale House

Not Rated.
Hunter-Gatherer Brewery and Ale HouseHunter-Gatherer Brewery and Ale House
BA SCORE
86
very good

25 Ratings
Ratings: 25
Reviews: 15
rAvg: 3.69
pDev: 11.11%
Active Beers: 7
Beer Ratings: 43
Beer Avg: 3.66
Taps: 4
Bottles: 0
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

900 Main St
Columbia, South Carolina, 29201-3964
United States
phone: (803) 748-0540

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @hgbrewery

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: GCBrewingCo)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 25 | Reviews: 15 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by kkipple:
Photo of kkipple
4.05/5  rDev +9.8%

Alright, just because it has to be said: Hunter-Gatherer is, currently, the ONLY brewpub in Columbia, South Carolina. This review, then, doesn't really attempt to stack it against local competition, because quite frankly, there is none. One would think that as the capitol of the state and as a college town, Columbia could support more than one brew pub, but, apparently not... Not that I'm bitter.

Anyways, Hunter-Gatherer is an attractive, 2-story brick building a stone's throw from the statehouse grounds. Upon entering the big wooden doors, you may notice a scrawny, mangy stuffed dog in the window, and some bizarre tribal decorations, spears and shields and whatnot. There's a decent sized bar directly ahead, with the brewing tanks behind. A large chalkboard advertises the current beers on tap. They all cost $3.50 a pint.

You can generally find HG's own Dry Stout, ESB, Wheat, and IPA on tap, with the fifth beer usually rotating out. Lately it's been a Pilsner. The beers are all quite respectable, although not great. All the beers I've had have been solid and unsurprising entries that stick closely to the style. I have yet to get a bad pint, for what that’s worth.

The food is actually the main reason I frequent this joint; it's excellent. I am not ashamed to say that Hunter-Gatherer makes the second-best hamburger in town (after the venerable 5 Points Diner) and it's worth every penny of the $6.75 asking price. Try the burger with their horseradish cheddar for a truly amazing experience. The Gyro and salads are also quite above-average for Columbia. I have yet to be disappointed with any of the food here, but if I am I may revisit this review.

Is the Hunter-Gatherer worth going to? If you live in Columbia, most certainly. Support your local brewpub! For travelers, I can't recommend going too far out of my way for the beer alone, but if you're passing through and crave a delicious hamburger and some average local beer, then by all means drop in.

EDIT: As of July 07, I'm bumping Hunter-Gatherer's score up to a solid 4. They recently began selling branded glassware, filling their own (brown!) growlers, and have brewed their first over the cap 7% IPA; which is decent. All these signs point to good things ahead, and I'll be glad to continue to give them my hard-earned beer money.

kkipple, Jun 19, 2006
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huntermop, Jun 03, 2014
Photo of shivtim
2.54/5  rDev -31.2%

I hate to leave bad reviews, but this place was not good. We stopped in on a Friday night while visiting Columbia for the weekend. The building is neat. I liked the open space and wood tables. Self-seating; very communal (if a bit confusing).

The beer was actively bad. They had four types, and I tried two (the pale ale and the wheat). They were nearly indistinguishable from each other. Both tasted metallic, grainy, and possibly contaminated. Kudos to the owners for opening a brewpub in South Carolina, but I don't think they know what they're doing.

Our food was below average. I had a pizza, which was about as good as a frozen pizza from the store. My friend did not care for his po boy, and my other friend had ravioli that was swimming in a gloppy lake of cheese. Everything was edible, just bland and not very good.

Service was OK, but slow.

I can't recommend this place, although there really aren't many other brewpub options in the area.

shivtim, Mar 20, 2014
Photo of ali1987
3.75/5  rDev +1.6%

ali1987, Dec 28, 2013
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4/5  rDev +8.4%

kylehay2004, Dec 28, 2013
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4.25/5  rDev +15.2%

tastyville, Dec 05, 2013
Photo of Karyyk
3.73/5  rDev +1.1%

For a long time I’ve been hearing nothing but good things about the Hunter-Gatherer. They have good food. It’s a cool place. They brew their own beer…and it’s good (and you can see the tanks behind the bar). It’s high praise in most cases. That said, in all the years that I’ve been in the Columbia area, I’ve never made it over there for one reason or another, until today.

Thanks to needing to take some time off from work, lest I lose it to the abyss of policy that is HR/payroll, I made it a point to head downtown to the Hunter-Gatherer. Since dining alone is generally not as fun as dining in company (or at least good company), I called a friend of mine who works in downtown Cola. and he was delighted to meet for midday grub (from here on out, I’ll call him Lando; this was also his first visit).

Like so many places downtown, finding parking is not for the squeamish. I got lucky and someone left a metered-spot right in front of it, but there aren’t a whole lot of options. This is fairly typical in downtown Columbia during the busy hours of the day (or night), and while it’s certainly no deal-breaker, it’s always good to know what you’re getting into (apparently this is nowhere near as big an issue in the PM).

From the outside, it really doesn’t look like much, but the interior is charming enough, if a bit eclectic (from African tribal shields to a photo gallery to something that looks like a malnourished, stuffed dingo). Taking a cue from a chalk-drawn sign, my friend and I seated ourselves in the upstairs/balcony area. Between the aged brick walls and dark wood tables, the place has a decidedly rustic, comfortable feel to it, which I liked a lot. Our server was quick to get us our drinks (Lando got sweet tea, I went with their ESB…beer was one of the reasons I was there) and take our order, once we decided what we wanted. Their menu isn’t the biggest in the world, but there is a nice variety there, with a lot of twists on otherwise familiar bar-food staples. They also have daily specials that change all the time (duck confit over grits was one of the notable ones on this day), so I could imagine the Gatherer providing a pretty fresh dining experience on a regular basis (this is definitely a place I’d like to make a regular stop).

When the dust had settled and the decisions had been made (no easy task), I went with their Horseradish Cheddar Cheeseburger, while Lando went with the Cawcaw Bratwurst with curry ketchup and onions. Both of us went with the hashbrowns over the pasta or garden salad options (got to go with the meat and potatoes when you’re drinking beer). The burger probably seems like a less than adventurous choice, but the way I see it, if a place can really nail a simple burger, they’ll nail most everything else on their menu.

The food made it back to us in short order, and the burger was cooked to near-perfection, medium-well with just a bit of pink in the middle. The addition of the horseradish to the cheddar is a great idea and is more of an accent really (it’s not an overpowering horseradish flavor). It was as good as it was simple, served with the usual lettuce, tomato, red onions and a side of ketchup (which I added only sparingly). The bun was also a step up from the usual, as it was kind of a crusty, sesame-seeded bun. The hashbrowns were good as well, although I wouldn’t have minded them being a tad crispier (Lando was a fan of them as they were). The Cawcaw Bratwurst looked good, served on a larger hogie-type roll. The curry ketchup was noticeable from where I was sitting and Lando seemed to enjoy it. I could definitely see myself order this in the future to accompany a few pints (although I’d take the kraut and mustard option).

Speaking of a few pints, I mentioned above that I started with the Hunter-Gatherer’s ESB, which I followed with their Wheat beer. Now, this isn’t a beer review, but both were very good and extremely drinkable. This is easily the best beer that I’ve tasted brewed in South Carolina and I will gladly try their other brews on future visits. The Hunter-Gatherer’s beer selection consists of their Pale Ale, Wheat Beer, ESB and IPA (the last being their current seasonal selection), which means that while there’s a limited selection, there’s still bound to be a style on-tap that you’re going to like. It’s very cool to see a place here in Columbia not only attempting to brew beer, but brewing some tasty ones.

All-in-all, I really, REALLY enjoyed my visit to the Hunter-Gatherer. The food was good, the service timely and the beer was going down particularly well on this day. It’s rare when a place that’s been hyped-up so much actually delivers, but the Hunter-Gather’s is well-deserved. This is the kind of place I’d like to make into a habit.

The Verdict? I’ll be back…

Karyyk, Apr 11, 2012
Photo of citrusjim
4.05/5  rDev +9.8%

Visited the Hunter Gatherer with a colleague while travelling for work. It was Monday night and many of the downtown kitchens are closed. We were sent here from the Whig, a cool little bar a few blocks away. It is a nice local brewpub for sure. As you walk in there are tables and a bar in back and an upstairs loft where we sat for dinner. The vibe is friendly and local. I had a few ESBs whilch were good. They had standard brewpub beers on offer including a pale, a wheat (maybe) and a stout. Maybe others. The staff was very nice and helped with some menu selections. I had a special soup which was great. I followed this with a pork sandwich which was excellent. My friend had a burger which looked great too. The HG is just a standard brewpub, but that makes it good. I would go back for sure.

citrusjim, Mar 31, 2010
Photo of felipesegundo
3.7/5  rDev +0.3%

Had not been in a while, dropped by to close out a night. Had the brown ale brewed there, it seemed a little lacking in malt and bite. But the service was good, and the hummus plate was very good. Place was pretty crowded but wait staff were attentive and quite knowledgeable about their selections and how they compare with national beers. I definitely would go back during the fall or winter to try their seasonal offerings, I don't like summer beers that much. A good place to enjoy good beers. Hoep to go back soon.

felipesegundo, Jul 20, 2009
Photo of Fireboy
3.75/5  rDev +1.6%

Hunter Gatherer is in a building from 1913 I believe, which has been a car dealership, an auto parts store and a bunch of other things (there's a piece on the wall with a bit of the history on it). The place looks very old with wooden rafters etc., and the brewery itself is a tiny bit of real estate behind the bar. The beers were pretty good. I tried the ESB and the wheat, both of which were pretty well on style and tasty, very drinkable. I didn't detect any aftertaste as a previous reviewer had. The food is a very good, with daily specials on a chalk board the whole place can see. It's a bit all over the place, from smoked brisket to duck, to lamb, to scallops on greens with a chili vinigarette. Our server was a bit overworked, but was knowledgable and worked hard to take care of us. It's a pretty cool place with good food and beer. I'd go back again when I get back to Columbia.
BTW; All smoking is now banned in establishments in Columbia, so i't always smoke free now!

Fireboy, Apr 19, 2009
Photo of mikesgroove
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%

Stopped in here tonight after I got done with work. Intresting, as to be honest the place looked run down when I first got there. No matter though as this has never deterred me before. Walked in and the place was nice, it was non smoking night as someone else had mentioned on Monday. Small crowd and a nice local scene. Tried a couple samples as I was really running behind and tired, but was pleasantly suprised with the brown being my favorite. Overall the place seemed decent, not the best I have been to but certainly not the worst. I would love to give it a little more of a look when I can hang out more next time.

mikesgroove, Sep 09, 2008
Photo of sativen
4.13/5  rDev +11.9%

My first impression of the Hunter Gatherer Brewery Alehouse was from across the street, where I parked. It was a nice, old building, with white paint stating the name of the business on the facade of an old building. It looked like the kind of down to earth place that I wanted to settle down for a few pints at.

The second impression disappointed me, I saw a sign stating that Monday was their non-smoking night, and it was Friday. I always hate to drink a good beer with smoke surrounding me. Due to the fact that it's the only brewery in Columbia, I entered for the night.

I really like the place once I got inside. It is a very open space, which dissipated the smoke, and gave the whole place a very welcoming atmosphere. I sat at the bar, where I always do when I'm alone, and ordered a sampler. The bartender poured me four samples in pint glasses (obviously the sampler isn't "on" the menu), and gave me a glass of water.

I found the wheat to be very nice, no banana or clove flavors. The ESB and the Pale had an aftertaste. I don't want to be too critical here, because I had been sick all week long, so my tastebuds might have been shot. The Double X Stout was utterly fantastic.

There were some very nice older (I'm 28) people at the bar, and they brought meaning to the term "southern hospitality". They recommended any of the food, but especially the burger. I remember reading it was the best in town, so I got it, with horseradish cheddar atop.

The lady mentioned that her son owned the place, and it was cool to see her sitting there on a Friday night enjoying herself. It was clear she had a repertoire with the bartender, and tipped him heavily upon leaving.

The burger was fantastic. I don't eat a lot of fatty meats these days, but did not regret getting that incredible hunk of meat. The hashbrowns were seasoned well, but otherwise a little boring (when the burger was terrific).

The chalkboard menu had some interesting fare on it, including a local-made brat, and a terrific sounding pasta with sausage, chicken, and a plum tomato and basil sauce that had me drooling. If I hadn't have read the great reviews about the burger, I would have gone with that.

For dessert I had a Grand Marnier walnut carrot torte. It was a little dry, but otherwise quite delicious.

If i were in Columbia for a period of time, I would definitely come back. If I hadn't been here before, I would definitely hit it. It's a unique atmosphere and a fun time.

sativen, Mar 17, 2008
Photo of MSchae1017
3.8/5  rDev +3%

On my way to Charleston, SC this past weekend, I stopped in Columbia for dinner at the city's only beer making establishment, the Hunter Gatherer. The brewpub is hidden in Columbia's downtown, located right behind the State House and just off of the University of South Carolina's campus. It would be very easy to drive right by it and not even know it is there. The exterior would have you believe that there has not been any functioning business there for many years. The paint is faded, the bricks look incredibly old, and vines grow up and down the building.

Stepping inside the pub showcases a lot of old wood and exposed brick. Art hangs on the walls and a stuffed hyena sits above the entrance. You will have to maneuver between tables to make your way to the bar, and the brewing equipment is situated behind the bar. Additional seating is also available up the stairs on a small platform along the left and back walls. A small stage is to the right when you first walk in and plays host to Thursday night jazz along with miscellaneous other events such as a Guitar Hero Club.

I arrived around 5:45 PM on a Friday evening and entered into a surprisingly full restaurant. Being a bit isolated from the hot spots in Columbia such as the Vista or Five Points, I did not expect to see so many people there before the big dinner rush. Looking around I noticed a lot of people just drinking or maybe enjoying at appetizer so I assume that I hit right in the midst of the weekend after work crowd. The policy was seat yourself so after a few minutes of hunting and chair grabbing I was able to position myself at a table upstairs.

As always, the first order of business is to order a beer. They keep there current beers listed on a chalk board near the bar. On that day the available beers were a wheat, an ESB, and a stout. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was also available as well as Warsteiner. I spoke with my waiter and was informed that the Sierra Nevada was only available for a limited time until their Pale Ale was ready. I got the impression that something had happened with their last batch, causing the unexpected shortage. It seems that they alway have Warsteiner available as well as their own wheat, ESB, and pale Ale. They also always have a fourth beer of their own that rotates between the currently available stout, a porter, IPA, brown, 90 Shilling Scotch Ale, and a winter seasonal, Ye Old Bastard, which is a strong ale. I opted for the stout while another member of my party chose the ESB. They also list the ESB and the stout as being 90% Organic while the wheat ale was listed as 70% Organic.

The stout turned out to be quite enjoyable with pleasant roasted and espresso notes. The ESB was also decent with amber accents and caramel malts balanced by Golding Hops. After a pint of the stout I ordered the wheat but was disappointed by an off flavor of cleaning solution. Whether this was due to an off flavor in the beer or improper cleaning, I chose to not take any chances and just ordered another stout.

While the Hunter Gatherer may be known as Columbia's only brewpub, I find that its strongest aspect is the food menu. Specials are also highlighted on the chalk board near the bar and that day it included a duck breast appetizer and meal, Caw Caw Creek bratwurst, Caw Caw Creek Italian Sausage and Chicken Pasta, and others. Regular appetizers include their very popular black bean dip, Cajun spiced shrimp, and Spanish Cheese and fruit plate. Full menu items range from burgers and sandwiches to pizza, pasta, and steak.

We enjoyed the black bean dip and the Cajun Spiced shrimp appetizers. The shrimp was served with a fantastic chipoltle aioli dipping sauce. For my meal, I chose to go with one of the specials, the Caw Caw Creek bratwurst which was topped with sauerkraut and spicy mustard. Another member of my group ordered another special, the Caw Caw Creek Italian Sausage and Chicken Pasta which was comprised of spinach linguine and a basil plum tomato sauce. A black pepper encrusted Yellowfin Tuna sandwich and a Hunter Gatherer Burger with white horseradish cheddar cheese burger were also ordered at the table. On previous visits, I can further attest to the very high quality of their pizzas.

Hunter Gatherer makes a nice stop in Columbia for some decent local beer and fantastic pub food.

MSchae1017, Feb 26, 2008
Photo of hellomcfly
4/5  rDev +8.4%

One of the very few places that brew their own beer in Columbia. I stopped in here tonight with a couple of friends and had dinner. I've been twice before but this was the first time I've tried their brew. I've never had a bad meal here. Tried their XXX IPA tonight a 7% ABV brew. Pretty tasty and the alcohol quickly crept up on me as I hadn't had much to eat the entire day. Service was quick and friendly. I really enjoy the atmosphere: dark, lots of wood, and giant beer vats. Right outside of USC campus but doesn't seem to be frequented by a lot of college kids other than me. Definitely worth a try.

hellomcfly, Sep 01, 2007
Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.33/5  rDev -9.8%

Hunter Gatherer is located in the heart of Columbia and is pretty easy to find, right on Main St. Near the college and very near to the Capitol building. I was expecting more college folks but it was mostly after work crowd with maybe three or four college kid tables. It was pretty smoky inside but I have certainly experienced worse. The bar was completely full except for the stools in front of the register, so I had to sit there. About 15 or so tables downstairs and about 10 or so more on the second floor. The second floor is open and looks down on the bar and brewing equipment.

Service was spot on even though the bartender was pretty busy. There were only four beers on tap; ESB, IPA, Pale Ale, and a wheat. Selection wise, it isnt the best. But it is craft beer. The beers were okay. Nothing special. I had an ESB and IPA. The IPA was the better of the two but neither were outstanding.

I had a cheeseburger that was pretty good. The hashbrowns they serve with the burger were really greasy. I was unable to finish them. I must say the burger was above average but I have had better hashbrowns from a frozen bag.

Not a bad joint. I will probably go back next time in Columbia. I enjoyed the experience.

SaCkErZ9, Aug 30, 2007
Photo of MikeFromMarsPA
3.33/5  rDev -9.8%

Towards the end of our round-the-country beer tour, we stayed the evening in Columbia with two friends who are local home brewers, part of the local club. They were very excited to take us to the one brewpub in town.

We went through a sampler of five beers, the XX IPA being the standout of the bunch. South Carolina has only within the past few months repealed their ABV limit, so it's nice to see that this place was able to turn out a high-quality high-alcohol beer so quickly.

I have a little bone to pick with the service, since we ordered an appetizer with our first round of drinks and it never came. We weren't charged for it, so we let it pass. I'd also say that although my ravioli was really tasty, the portion was rather small for the price.

When we were there, Hunter Gatherer had only had their growlers out in circulation for about three weeks. Not wanting to completely fill our jeep with glassware, we brought in an empty growler from another place to fill. We were told that they didn't fill other breweries' growlers, which is a major sin in my book. It's not about the money, guys, it's about the beer. You're getting a "pass" this time because you're new at the game, but I hope you figure out your karma quickly. The IPA was too good to pass up, so we bought one of their growlers to take with us. I'll be refilling their growler at many of the 90% of the brewpubs in the country that refills other people's growlers. Courtesy goes a long way.

All-in-all, a good place, and I suppose I'll be back next time I'm in town. Our friends say great things about the owners and brewers, whom they know. A few little kinks to work out, though.

MikeFromMarsPA, Aug 03, 2007
Photo of oxguru
3.83/5  rDev +3.8%

I won't go on too long about this place, as the review by kkipple sums up the location very well.

I went with three friends, and none of us was terribly impressed with the beers. Two had the brown ale and weren't thrilled. One switched to rum and coke, and the other just drank her water. Two of us started with the IPA. I found it unremarkable, with some sort of off flavor. I switched to the Porter, which was slightly better, but still not among the better examples I have had of the style.

We found the food to be excellent. Everyone enjoyed their orders--the snapper was delicious. One friend may go back solely for the mashed potatoes. Prices were not unreasonable.

It's always nice when a brewpub has an excellent menu to complement the beers. In the case of the Hunter-Gatherer, they need to put some effort in bringing the beers up to par.

oxguru, Aug 01, 2006
Photo of Nesued
4.05/5  rDev +9.8%

As a resident of Columbia South Carolina and a former grad student of the University of South Carolina, the proximity of this Alehouse to the campus would at first make you think it would be overrun by the "student crowd".

Thankfully, this is not the case.

It appears that the atmosphere (as previously mentioned by another posting, hence I need not repeat a very nice description) is more geared towards the after-work crowd as opposed to the after-class crowd.

The brews are all homemade with a selection that reasonably spans the "light to dark" realm: Wheat, India Pale Ale, Extra Special Bitter. A single "rotating tap" is usually "mashing" a brown or a stout. I've been there several times when the Stout is "beer offering number 4" and have not been disappointed.

A bit of background of the owner: A former student of the aforementioned University, he developed quite a following and was led to open up this Alehouse. This does add to the "local-flavor" both of the staff and those who frequent.

A size of the establishment does hinder both bringing large parties and/or having a discussion with someone more than three feet away. High ceilings and a usual full house makes conversations almost impossible.

There is a bar, with seating available for the "solo" types who want a bit of a retreat close enough to the brew to ensure a steady flow, and also a bit of room to read a paper or a such (I personally spent many an evening reading text while at the bar).

Outdoor seating is present, although limited. Two pairs of tables flank the entry to the establishment. The view is nothing to speak of, however the ability to converse is well worth grabbing a table if available.

Nesued, Oct 16, 2005
Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.78/5  rDev +2.4%

I stopped by the Hunter Gatherer tonight. I still had a coupon for a free pint I had held since December.

The first thing you notice is the decor. The exterior and interior walls are brick and the roof and beams are darkened wood. The brewhouse is surrounded by the bar, but not separated from it. That may explain why they open at 4 pm Tuesday - Saturday, so they can brew up to that time. The interior has a very small upper balcony, but the entire place is small. They said it had been there about 8 years, and was last an ice cream parlor.

The beer was tasty, but nothing to go out of the way for. The quality was definitely high as was the service, but with only 4 of their own beers on tap the selection was lacking. They have 3 year round brews - Wheat, India Pale Ale, Extra Special Bitter. They also have a rotating tap which was currently a Brown Ale and was a favorite of most everyone who walked in the place. I must have saw it ordered at least 10-15 times in an hour.

The food was kind of boring and definitely overpriced. I would return for the nice solid Wheat and IPA, but the ESB was not worth the time an the Brown was only midly entertaining. They do not have a sampler, but will let you taste if you desire.

I'd be back, but only for a beer or two...

GCBrewingCo, Jun 04, 2004
Hunter-Gatherer Brewery and Ale House in Columbia, SC
86 out of 100 based on 25 ratings.