food and beverage underground

The Flying Saucer

by Nancy Silver
(Columbia, SC)

Welcome to the flying saucer! If you love beer this is a must see stop in Columbia. With twelve locations in the Southeast, the flying saucer on Senate St. in the heart of the vista is the only one in the state of SC. With well over 200 beer options being served up daily and many being on tap, the flying saucer is a college student’s dream come true. No age group should be scared off however, the crowd is very diverse.

As mentioned above, this is primarily a beer bar. However, they do offer a full bar for those that prefer traditional mixed drinks. Personally, I would rather have a martini or mixed drink if given an option, as I’m sure most ladies would, but when I go to the flying saucer I have to go for the beer. There’s just something about the atmosphere, everyone gathered together with friends that just makes me want to say, “Give me a pint!” I particular enjoy the outside patio with its large wood picnic tables. Inside you can pick a seat at the long stretched bar, find a private booth, or relax on one of their cozy couches. The saucer is definitely trying to appeal to the beer drinking gentlemen seeing as how you’ll be served by a waitress dressed in her skimpiest schoolgirl outfit.

The first time I traveled to the flying saucer I was excited to find a beer called Sea Dog Blueberry Wheat. It was an excellent combination of beer with a fruit essence that was not overpowering. I found that Wednesday night was a special “brewery nite” which means you can try the beer of the night and purchase the commemorative brand name glass with it. On this night the beer was Lindeman’s Lambic, your choice of fruit flavor. I have to admit, even though I love the fruity drinks, this was a bit like drinking puree (though the glass was beautiful).

I mentioned that Wednesday night was “brewery nite”, everyday of the week is special at the flying saucer. Monday is “Pint nite” where draft beer is only $2.50, Tuesday is “Trivia Bowl nite”, Thursday is “Mystery Beer” for $2.75, Friday is happy hour from 4-8pm followed by live music starting at 9:30pm, and Saturday nights also offer live band performances.

It’s a great place to catch a drink with friends or relax with a beer after a long day at work. And if the beer starts going to your head, the flying saucer offers a menu to help you soak up the suds. While the menu is not the main attraction at this downtown spot, it has a surprising variety. They offer typical appetizers like nachos and wings and some things a little more substantial like burgers, pizza slices, wraps, and sandwiches. But what I like to order is a “build your own” plate. Choose a meat such as black pepper salami, pair it with some smoked salmon, and add a French cheese to the plate for an exciting combination sure to please everyone. You can pick up to five selections from a choice of ten, depending on the size of your party. All “build your own” plates come with a variety of crackers, and condiments such as spicy mustard and a spread made from robust olives. With plates such as this and beers from around the world, the flying saucer adds a little sophistication to the normal beer drinkers’ bar, making it a natural fit to the Vista area.

And speaking of worldly beers, on my last visit to the saucer I took on the “Around the World” sampler. There are six different beer sampler options to choose from if you can’t make a decision on just one. Each sampler offers 5 different types of beer and a good size portion of each. My sampler included a Blanche de Bruxelles from Quenast Belgium which was a light, white, cloudy ale and tasted very citrusy. My husband ended up stealing this one from me. Oh well, and then there were four. My next tasting was called Belhaven Scottish Ale and hailed from Dunbar, Scotland. This was of medium body with a nice brown hue. It was an easy drinking beer, not much different from the usual find. The next drink was Franziskaner Dunkie from Munich, Germany. This was a darker beer and cloudy due to the wheat. It was described as having banana and caramel flavors in it. While I couldn’t taste the banana and caramel notes described, it did have quite a distinctive taste and I’m sure the banana was the cause of it. I did not care for this one and quickly moved on to the Red Seal Ale from Fort Brag, California. This was a pale ale with hop and malt. As the name describes it had a rich red tone and ended with quite a bitterness. I gave this one to my husband who is a fan of IPAs. Ah, I had finally reached my last conquest. With a name like Young’s Double Chocolate Stout I had to save it for last. It would be my dessert for the evening. This one originating from London, England, it was very dark and thick but also my favorite. I could surprisingly taste the chocolate in it, perhaps because I am an expert when it comes to chocolate. This stout was like sipping an espresso. It was the perfect end to the evening.

The flying saucer cannot be compared to a restaurant or a bar, it is something all its own. I would highly recommend trying a sampler your first time there as the beer list can be overwhelming. If none of the samplers sound interesting to you, you can create your own sampler by choosing 5 beers from their large selection. The possibilities are endless, so go for a ride at the flying saucer. I guarantee you’ll find a beer (or five) that you’ll love.

The Flying Saucer
931 Senate St.
Columbia, SC

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