Housed in a former 1927 Hudson car dealership with brick walls and a barrel-trussed ceiling, Flat Branch takes its name from a nearby creek where settlers fetched water. And the history continues: Flat Branch is the first brewery in Columbia since 1841 (it opened in 1994). At one end of the building, lively crowds gather at a large bar; at the other end is a quieter space for dining near windows where you can watch workers knead dough and slide pizzas into the brick oven.
In addition to pizzas, the long menu details salads, burgers, sandwiches, and pub fare such as catfish and chips or bangers and mash. We tried the Cuban smoked pork grinder ($8.49), with thick slices of house-smoked pork, Swiss cheese, pepper relish and caramelized onions. Hard to believe, but the bread overshadowed all those bold flavors. The pesto, red pepper and artichoke pizza ($7.99) was a better bet; the soft, bready crust nicely supported the toppings. The highlight of our meal, though, was the beer for which the pub is known. Oil Change oatmeal stout was thick, creamy and smooth (10 ounces for $3.25), and Vienna pale lager was tangy, fresh and citrusy ($1.75 for a 5-ounce sampler). Flat Branch also brews root beer, cream soda and ginger ale.