Ever since Columbia’s brewery scene began to blossom seven or so years ago, it has been flourishing with continual developments happening along the way. One of the new brewery concepts set to open this year has been building local anticipation since it was first announced a couple years ago.
Last week, Peak Drift Brewing on North Main hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the completion of Phase I – the brewery’s 25,000 sq. ft. (of the historic warehouse’s sprawling footprint of almost 65,000 sq. ft.) production facility. So, what can you expect from this long-awaited brand, what sets it apart from the area’s existing breweries and where can you get your hands on some Peak Drift brews right now? We’ve got all the answers for ya.
About Peak Drift
Owned by brother-sister duo Greg Middleton and Sara Middleton Styles, Peak Drift is all about celebrating life’s peak moments and is inspired by the landscape of the Southeast – from the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains to drifting along the Congaree River and everything in between.
Located inside the former Stone Manufacturing Company facility, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the rest of the space is currently still under construction. When finished, it will include indoor and outdoor dining, lounge areas, a statement bar area, games, entertainment and more. Peak Drift will be an experience and aims to be a destination in its own right for locals and travelers alike.
First and foremost, let’s take a moment to appreciate the person behind all these craft creations. Ashley Kinart-Short is Peak Drift’s Certified Master Brewer and is the first and (currently) only female brewmaster in Columbia. In a field largely dominated by men, Ashley made her mark on the Wisconsin beer scene, where she accrued more than 15 years of experience and ultimately became a Brewmaster for Capital Brewery, one of the state’s oldest regional craft breweries, by 2015. Moving her talents here, Ashley oversees the brand’s flavors, recipes and overall brewing process, as well as manages the design, construction and upkeep of the production facility.
“Building Peak Drift has been an incredible experience,” says Kinart-Short. “Not only is it a rare opportunity to start a brewery from the ground up, but opening a craft facility at this caliber right from the start is truly exciting and unique – and working with this amazing team makes it even better!”
Sustainability is a major factor in Peak Drift’s operations. From production to packaging, the state-of-the-art, environmentally conscious equipment they use will benefit a lot more than their own process, but also that of others. In-house, an onsite lab will allow them to test all their products to ensure optimal quality and Surface Tension Technology makes it possible for them to produce alkaline water and natural cleaning solutions to cut down on the use of chemicals. Additionally, their fruit processing equipment means they can source fruit from local farms and their commercial high-volume digital can printer (Peak Drift is only the second company in the country to own one) allows the team to print graphics directly onto the cans, making them 100% recyclable unlike craft beer cans that use sticker labels. This printer will also be available for other breweries to use, further reducing waste. There are also plans for ample electric vehicle parking onsite.
Finally, Peak Drift puts an emphasis on building an innovative craft beverage community. They’re making a lot more than beer here – hard seltzers, ciders, nitro cold brew and additional non-alcoholic(!) options are all in the pipeline. As more and more people are embracing sober living, the company is intentional about making sure all feel welcome and part of the experience.
On Tap/ Add to Cart
You don’t have to wait for the rest of the brewery to open to get a taste of the goods. Peak Drift products are available on tap now in select restaurants and bars throughout the region and a variety of beers are available for purchase in six-packs and cases in some retail stores, as well. Plus, Smoked on Main Street (also owned by power siblings Greg and Sara), houses Peak Drift’s microbrewery, so you can get your fill of tasty sips straight from the source there, too. Peak Drift will continue to expand its products into additional markets this year, so keep your eyes peeled.
Here's to those peak moments and all the ones we’re sure to have when Peak Drift fully opens later this year.