New production facility, canning, distribution on deck for Hilton Head Brewing Co.

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South Carolina’s oldest brewpub is scheduled for a major overhaul in 2015, leaving behind its old home and old ways in hopes of turning a page on a 20-year-old institution.

Hilton Head Brewing Co. – the first brewpub to open in the state after the end of Prohibition – has been in production since opening in 1994, and for much of its 20-year history was the only beer producer in operation on Hilton Head Island. With the opening of Wooden Skiff Brewing Co., competition increased for the island stalwart, which wasn’t known for producing the best product.

But during the past two years, Head Brewer John Rybicki has been working to rebuild the brewpub and change its standing – as Rybicki himself said – from “a place known for terrible beer.” The biggest change in HHBC’s two decades comes in January 2015 when they leave behind their old home for a larger, full-scale production facility.

The new HHBC will house the 7 BBL brewhouse and four 7 BBL fermentation tanks from the current facility as well as five new 20 BBL tanks purchased as part of the expansion. The upgraded facility will also include a canning line from Colorado-based Wild Goose Canning Technologies Inc., which will first be used to package HHBC’s core Session IPA and Tropical Lager. Wider distribution is also planned, with the local area receiving kegs and cans first and northward distribution planned for the future. Rybicki said a distribution deal is close to being finalized.

Not wanting to leave their brewpub roots behind, Rybicki said the brewery will capitalize on the Stone Law by including a DHEC-approved kitchen, in addition to a new 12-tap tasting room. The exact location of the new facility has not been announced yet.

Rybicki said everything is on track for the new HHBC to be online and in operation early next year.

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