Last July, two things had me excited for the return of fall in Columbia. First was the kickoff of a new season of Gamecock college football. Second was opening day of Conquest Brewing Co., the city’s first and only production brewery, which was scheduled to start slinging drinks the opening day of Carolina’s 2012-2013 season.
Six months later, another great Gamecocks season has come to an end. And Conquest … well … we’re still waiting on them to open.
But now, things are starting to look a little more solid for the brewery. In a blog post published Jan. 6, Conquest founder Joseph Ackerman gave an update on how things are going. In short: slowly, but surely.
“People ask me every day, several times a day, ‘What’s going on with Conquest?’ And every day I still have to shrug my shoulders and say, ‘still waiting … ,'” Ackerman wrote. (Yours truly is only of those people. Sorry for pestering, Joseph.)
“I do want you to know, however, that we are not idle,” he continued. “We are still working hard at the brewery, many hours a week, to try to make sure that everything is ready when we finally can open the doors.”
At this point, Conquest has its federal license and has done everything required by the state to get up and running, but they’re still waiting on the final permitting approval, which would allow them to start distribution. The beers are being brewed, but they just can’t sell them to people. Ackerman hopes to get the OK to distribute samples at the World Beer Festival in Columbia on Saturday, Jan. 19. That leaves a little less than two weeks, but Ackerman remains eternally optimistic.
“That is why we are hoping and praying that the wait finally ends this week. And truly, we have little reason to believe that it will not,” said Ackerman.
Having talked with Ackerman multiple times about how things are going, I’m impressed that all the setbacks and delays haven’t diminished his readiness to start pumping out brews for everyone to enjoy. His business plan and long-term outlook are aggressive, but realistic as long as people welcome the brewery with open arms and palates. Three or four beers should be ready to enjoy on launch day and a launch party is also in the cards. To be honest, I think having an extra six months to build hype and spread the word will serve them well when opening day comes.
As for when that is, I’ll let you know as soon as I do.