Cheers for beers! New brewery opens on Hilton Head Island


WHAT: Hilton Head Brewery Grand Opening March 28, 2015
WHEN: Doors open at noon
WHERE: 1 Cardinal Court, Suite 13, Hilton Head Island
COST: Free
DETAILS: Musical entertainment will be provided by Groove Town Assault from 1-4 p.m. and Harry
Santana from 4-7 p.m.

There’s a new place in town to relax and enjoy a cold one. And you get to see how that cold one is made.
Hilton Head Brewing Company will have the grand opening of its new brewery on Friday at 1 Cardinal Court.
The brewery is a fully-operating beer producer and cannery and will offer tours, tastings and a food service of small plates like paninis, nachos and hot dogs.
The real star, of course, is the beer.


Brew master John Rybicki stirs beer in the brewery’s boiler kettle.

There will be seven beers on tap Friday, including lagers, IPAs, hefeweizen and porter.
The brewery is the collaborative effort of co-owners John Rybicki and Juan Brantley. Brantley owns the Hilton Head Brewing company restaurant in Reilley’s Plaza. Three years ago, he
brought in Brantley to overhaul his microbrewery.
The two invested “tens of thousands of dollars” in new equipment, Rybicki said.
Three months after it was all finished, they ripped it out and moved it to its own space at Cardinal Court.
The move had to do with the passage of the “Stone Bill,” an overhaul of South Carolina’s brewing lawsthat now allows breweries to:

• produce an unlimited amount of beer
• operate on-site restaurants that serve food
• sell to wholesalers and exporters of kegs, cans, and bottles

The bill, officially called H.3512, raced through the S.C. legislature last year in an effort to attract California-based Stone Brewing Co.’s $31 expansion east of the Mississippi. Stone ended up passing on South Carolina’s bid, but the bill still bodes well for new breweries like Hilton Head’s.
“That law change was very important,” Rybicki said. “We wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for the bill.”


Fermenting tanks at Hilton Head Brewing Co. at 1 Cardinal Court on Hilton Head Island.

Thanks to the bill, Rybicki and Brantley plan to produce upwards of 1,700 barrels of beer a year. That’s not much compared to big brewers, but the duo hopes to get an extra boost from tourists passing
“We’re making beer on Hilton Head that we want people to take back to wherever home is,” Rybicki said.
Brantley predicts the bestseller will be their tropical lager with its light, fresh taste and low alcohol content.
“The drinkability is there,” he said. “It paints the picture of the island.”
Ironically, the tropical lager is also the most difficult beer the brewery makes. Many people think strong beers are hard to make, but lightweight beers without much sugar have a higher chance of off flavors, Brantley explained.
Both said they are excited for the opening and for people to enjoy their product.
When I visited the brewery two weeks ago, hammers, nails and rolls of painters tape covered the bar and there were only two lonely taps with handles. Now, everything is ready to go.
Brantley said there’s only one thing still left to do.
“Just make beer.”

The Process:

Step 1: The grain goes into the mash tun. At HHI Brewing Co., DSC_0513about 435 pounds of grain is poured
into the mash tun, which is mixed with hot water and then compacted with suction to convert the
starches in the malted barley into fermentable sugars. Monitoring the temperature of the mash is very important, because different temperatures result in different types of beer.

Step 2: The grain is separated from the sugary liquid in a process is called lautering. Leftover grain goes to a local farmer in Hardeeville for his pigs and cows.DSC_0516

Step 3: The product then goes to the boiler kettle. That’s where hops and most ingredients are added and boiled for about an hour. Once the boiling is complete, it is cooled down as fast as possible, from 212 degrees to 68 degrees.


Step 4: Fermentation. Fermenting is DSC_0511about seven days in large stainless steel vat. Then there’s seven days for clarifying, in which any unwanted particles are be sifted out, followed by adding carbonation.

Step 5. The beer is ready for packaging in cans or kegs.

  • Rick Melton

    Always great to see a new brewery open. Let’s get it in the growler station at Whole Foods.