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South Carolina Brewers Escape Hurricane At Great American Beer Festival

By Melissa Garcia

DENVER (CBS4)- Hurricane Matthew has put a damper on some businesses participating in the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

The three-day festival at the Colorado Convention Center features beer sampling and competitions among 780 breweries from across the United States.

Low Tide Brewery in Florida (credit: Low Tide Brewery)

A handful of breweries competing in the event came from the hurricane evacuation region on the Southeast coast. An event spokesperson said that at least one of those breweries had backed out of participating in the festival since the hurricane prompted evacuation. Florida Beer Company in Cape Canaveral, Fla., posted a photo of a sign in front of its storefront on Facebook that read, "Hurricane Evacuation Plan: 1) Grab beer 2) Run like hell!!"

CBS4's Melissa Garcia spoke to some brewery owners at the Colorado Convention Center who were preparing to show off their craft beer.

Andy Elliott and Mike Fielding, co-owners of Low Tide Brewing couldn't help but to think about their brewery storefront back home in Johns Island, South Carolina.

Johns Island is located approximately 15 minutes South of Charleston and in the upper part of Hurricane Matthew's path.

Fielding shared photos of the brewery that had been temporarily shut down due to an evacuation order in advance of the approaching storm.

Staff members had boarded up the windows with plywood and packed the doors shut with sandbags.

"It's a semi-new building that's metal," said Fielding. "Hopefully the roof doesn't get ripped off, and hopefully the winds have died down a little bit. But I think our biggest concern is with loss of power for over 8-hours, potentially, that would cause our beer to spoil."

(credit: CBS)

In an area where downtown lies below sea level, Fielding hoped that the brewery would prove stronger than the storm.

"Luckily, the brewery is on a little bit of a high ground, for Johns Island," Fielding said. "It's at 21 feet above sea level, which is a lot better than being five feet above sea level when the storm is coming. So hopefully we survive this one."

Low Tide's logo was inspired by a boat that had been stranded on land from Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

Elliott and Fielding were hoping that their company name would be a good forecast for the storm ahead.

"Hopefully, it's low tide when the storm comes in," Fielding said.

As the storm moved in, their thoughts were with their friends and family in the coastal southeast.

They knew at least one person who had decided to stay home and ignore evacuation orders.

"Stay safe, and get to high ground if you can," said Fielding.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to

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