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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- The micro-brewery business has been big in Charleston and Greenville, but now Columbia is starting to gain ground with the newest brewery.

Inside the Shop Road facility, the mash lauter tun is empty now, but it will be soon full with the newest local brews at River Rat Brewery.

River Rat Brewery is the brainchild of Columbia resident Mike Tourville.

"I have been homebrewing for about six years and turned to all grain the last couple of years and got on a big system, a fifteen gallon system, which is big for a homebrew," said Tourville.

Tourville traded in his 15-gallon home system to a 15-barrel professional one,setting up the latest micro-brewery in the Midlands.

Tourville said, "The idea of South Carolina and North Carolina with all of the micro-breweries popping up everywhere, I said, 'Hey, why not me?'"

Mike Walters will oversee the brewing, the brewmaster has 18-years of experience and is excited be involved in the start-up of a new company.

Walters said, "I wake up every morning and I get to make beer, so my job is better than everyone else's that's for sure."

Walters worked at the Abita Brewery in Louisiana before making the move to the Midlands where he is happy to settle down and get to work.

"All of this malt behind me comes from England and France, we are using some European malts for this and in about thirty to forty days, all that will be turned into our first five beers," said Walters.

Between now and then Tourville and Walters have lots to get done in the brewery.

In the mean time, you can bet they are going to be enjoying every ounce of their work.

Tourville said when asking if the business is fun, "Fun, yea making beer, we love brewing beer because beer makes people happy, that is our mantra."

According to Tourville, "Mark pointed out earlier he said he gets to wake-up every morning and make beer and I can't wait to make that statement."

Tourville says they will start brewing on January 12th and they aren't going rush production of the beer to open on a certain date.

He does expect to be selling their craft beers out of the 4000 square-foot facility by the end of February or by early March.

For more information on River Rat Brewery visit their website at http://riverratbrewery.com/.

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