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America’s craft beer and brewery boom over the past decade has been a hoppy, hazy, boozy wonder to watch — and Charleston breweries are now right up there with the best beer cities in the American south.
It’s amazing to think it wasn’t always this way. For years, South Carolina’s brewery scene and Charleston breweries faced an enormous challenge: state laws restricted the brewery from brewing above 6.3% Alcohol by Volume (ABV). By comparison, most prime IPAs (one of the most popular craft brew styles) range from 7 to 9% ABV, while a strong porter or stout could be 10 to 11% ABV.
Thanks to the efforts of the Pop the Cap initiative spearheaded by Coast Brewing Co. founders Jaime Tenny and David Merritt, that 6.3% limit went away in 2007 — setting the stage for a Charleston craft beer explosion and many new Charleston breweries. Over a decade later, that explosion is in full bloom — bolstered by more legislative efforts from Tenny and others, and fueled by a talented, dedicated crop of brewers now calling Charleston home.
Tastings and Trolley Rides
Many Charleston peninsula breweries have banded together to make their brewing district more accessible from lower downtown. The Charleston Brewery District collaborates with Lowcountry Trolley for all-day free “hop on-and-off” responsible rides. Operating most every Saturday from 1-9pm, the stops cover 10 popular breweries through the NoMo neighborhood and beyond. For more detailed information, check out the orange lined route on our current Charleston map guide.
So, what Charleston breweries should visitors put on their must-drink list? Here’s some of our favorites. <Distilleries coming soon!>
CHARLES TOWNE FERMENTORY
The Charles Towne Fermentory (809 Savannah Hwy., Charleston) is one of the true rock stars of Charleston breweries — nationally renowned for its incredible craft beer creations. Founder and head brewer Adam Goodwin is craft beer royalty; he brewed at Philadelphia’s Tired Hands Brewery and served as original head brewer at Trillium Brewing, one of New England’s true beer destinations. Goodwin and co-founder Justin Slotnick created Charles Towne Fermentory from an old laundromat, turning the building into a fun taproom and brewery with a friendly, neighborhood feel.
A must-visit for any craft beer fan heading to Charleston, the menu is heavy on the vogue double IPA style; DDH Sungazer IPA with Citra hops, and the Extra Sunny DIPA with Vic Secret hops. There are also easy-drinking lagers: a Carolina Lager with local ingredients, the traditional Yacht Party American Lager, special bottle releases, stouts, and even an Italian Pils with Italian hops.
COAST BREWING COMPANY
We spoke about all the efforts of brewery owners Jaime Tenny and David Merritt to get Charleston’s craft beer scene off the ground; it’s well worth a trip to their very own COAST Brewing Company (1250 N. 2nd St., N. Charleston) venture in North Charleston to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Be sure to read up on the fascinating stories of Tenny and Merritt before you go (he’s a veteran brewer, formerly of Palmetto Brewing, and she’s the founder of the SC Brewers Guild, a yoga teacher, and former research specialist in immunology), then relax in the outside taproom built on an old Navy base to enjoy their top-notch beer selection.
Year-round highlights are the Boy King Imperial India Pale Ale — it’s a doozy — and their Blackbeard Imperial Stout. If you’re lucky enough to go during the fall season, be sure to try their Oktoberfest’ special, made with Munich and Vienna malts and Magnum, Halletaur, and Hersbrucker hops. It’s a great taste of Germany in the middle of the Lowcountry. After you’re done sudsing up COAST, take a walk down by the nearby Copper River.
Another North Charleston favorite is the Commonhouse Aleworks (4821 O’Hear Ave., N. Charleston) in Park Circle. A result of back porch beer sessions between co-owners and co-founders Hank Hanna and Pearce Fleming, Commonhouse Aleworks means to “celebrate the storied history of beer as a central component of American communities as well as the foundation for all civilization.” Those sound like lofty goals, but the beer — and the food — rises to that level.
Try one of the easy-to-drink Local LoCal IPAs or the bigger Virtual Road Trip IPA done in the traditional New England style. The menu at the attached restaurant — Florie’s at Commonhouse Aleworks — offers plenty of hearty delights. Pair an Aleworks beer with the Fancy Grilled Cheese (gouda, American, truffle aioli) or the FGT BLT (fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese, Alabama white BBQ sauce).
COOPER RIVER BREWING
Among the newest of Charleston breweries, Cooper River Brewing (2201-B Mechanic St., Charleston) has settled into downtown’s Wagener Terrace. The neighborhood is inconspicuous as compared to more vibrant areas like King Street, but there’s nothing quiet about the beers pouring out of this brewery. Brewer Dustin Pait puts it plainly, “Cooper River Brewing Co. is about crafting great tasting and memorable beers.” A simple statement backed up with complex flavor. Definitely memorable!
Cooper River Brewing is a great place to start for first tastes of what craft brewing is all about. “Our initial focus, and the spirit we follow,” says Pait, “is to create consistent and well-crafted traditional ales that appeal to both seasoned craft beer enthusiasts, as well as those folks that are still making the turn.”
EDMUND’S OAST BREWERY
This ain’t your daddy’s beer haunt. Take rebel Charlestonian 1760 brewer Edmund Egan’s name, add relevance to the kiln for drying hops (oast) and toss them together with an adjoining James Beard semi-finalist seasonally-focused kitchen; you’ve now got the recipe for this unique combination brewery restaurant. Hailed for punching beyond their weight with award-winning craft brews — aficionado’s rave over the Peanut Butter & Jelly ale — and equally renowned for their elevated yet approachable food, Edmund’s Oast has bucked the industry’s early swig and nosh days.
An offshoot of the popular Edmund’s Oast restaurant and Edmund’s Oast Exchange, the Edmund’s Oast Brewery (1505 King St., Charleston) features a huge, sunny bar and patio space with a terrific variety of creative beer recipes. A courtyard hosts casual gatherings and a food service counter with pizza, sandwiches and snacks (including the Lowcountry’s go-to, boiled peanuts.) Grab some of their great food — a wood-fired brick oven and a Polish smokehouse offer up pizza, sandwiches, and other entrees — and one of their sweet Maple Coffee Cream or Cordial Offering: Chocolate Macaroon beers. The menu also includes the intriguing Sour Apple American sour ale, and the Pillow Fort Triple IPA. With an ever-changing selection of brews, Edmund’s Oast is certainly worthy of a few visits.
TIP: A short distance away, the restaurant serves all Edmund’s Oast brews along with a substantial menu — don’t miss the praised house-cured charcuterie. Reserve well ahead for the coveted Chef’s Counter, THE place to immerse yourself in the kitchen vibe. TIP: Indulge in the seven-course Tasting Menu with beverage accompaniments.
FAT PIG BREWING
Go ahead and live high on the hog at Fat Pig Brewing (3690 Old Charleston Rd,, Johns Island). After brewing at the Tradesman space, husband and wife duo of Eulie and Cheryl Middleton opened Fat Pig in the Spring of 2018 at their own trendy John’s Island venue. Stop by to enjoy a spicy Reaper Pepper BlondeAle, My Safe Word Belgian quad, or sweet Milk Sandwich chocolate stout.
Don’t miss their weekly Wednesday Trivia Night and seasonal Saturday farmers market where locals gather and scoop up their favorite take-home bottles. Popular lately is the limited release bourbon and whiskey version of their unique barrel-aged Chocopotamus Imperial Oatmeal Stout — forewarned is fair warned: its 12% ABV can sneak up on you!
This Charleston brewer’s passion for using organic ingredients, coupled with a love for its Lowcountry home, is a perfect combination for quality Charleston craft beer. “All of our beers are inspired by the Lowcountry,” says Freehouse Brewery‘s (2895 Pringle St., N. Charleston) Arthur Lucas. “Our brewery is located right on the beautiful Ashley River, and we have that to thank for our Ashley Farmhouse Ale.”
Better for Mother Nature and for you, Freehouse’s brews are free from everything but the purest form of ingredients. From traditional Lagers and hop forward IPAs, to barrel aged and sours brewed, tempting pours include Folly’s Pride Blonde Ale: a crisp golden ale with mild bitter citrus finish; and Ashley Farmhouse: a dry Belgian-style saison with yeast-driven fruit and mild flake rye spiciness.
FROTHY BEARD BREWING COMPANY
As one of the smallest breweries in the Southeast, this small-batch brewery loves its freedom to experiment. “Being a nanobrewery lets us use our willingness to try new things,” says brewer Joey Siconolfi. And the Frothy Beard Brewing Company (1401 Sam Rittenberg Blvd., Charleston) certainly does. Siconolfi notes that his ambitious crew recently brewed a cream ale using grits from a local restaurant. Who knows what tasty concoction it will mix up next?
Grown between friends from shared passion for creativity, culinary arts, and beer (along with zombies, epic novels, board games, and the outdoors), Michael Biondi, Steve McCauley, and Joey Siconolfi opened Frothy in 2013. With a growing following and demand, they relocated to an upgraded facility at their current West Ashley location. Adding a state of the art taproom they increased brew capacity by 400% and introduced their first canned Frothy, local favorite, ¡Andale!, a dry hopped Jalapeno Cilantro Pale Ale.
Other varieties include Glow Your Own Way Sour IPA: a citra cashmere floral and sabro hops; Out At Third Belgian Triple: Belgian Pilsner, aromatic malts and house made candi sugar — a nice beer to transition from summer to fall; and Charleston Moves IPA India Session Ale, created in partnership with Charleston Moves to bring awareness to their campaign to broaden diversified local travel options (bike, walk and other non-car modes). Low on calories for active Charlestonians, but high on flavor, the light mouthfeel echos pronounced hop flavor along with Cascade floral and grapefruit notes, and El Dorado candy-like sweetness.
GHOST MONKEY BREWERY
Joining Westbrook in Mount Pleasant, Ghost Monkey Brewing (522 Wando Ln., Mt Pleasant) is a fairly new nano brewery offering experimental varieties of beer. The brewery’s John Kosky says, “Being small allows us to play with recipes and take chances on some flavor combinations that you might not have experienced before, and that won’t be found at grocery stores.”
With names like Lowcountry for Old Men, Sip Happens and Stretchy Pants, you can be certain the playful creativity is forward first on flavor. But Ghost Monkey’s brews aren’t only for craft beer connoisseurs. Kosky says they strive to make craft beer approachable, and the brewery intends to offer a selection of specialty non-alcoholic drinks, as well. Add temptations from pop-up food trucks like Dashi’s Thai wings or Bahn Mi, and special music events and you’ve got an afternoon ripe for tapping.
HOLY CITY BREWING
Next up? How about Holy City Brewing, (1021 Aragon Ave,, N. Charleston) a staple of the city’s craft beer scene since 2011. Growing out of the garage of co-founders Joel Carl and Sean Nemitz, the brewery now features its original 15-gallon, all-grain pilot system as a permanent display. Today, Holy City resides in a 20,000-foot square warehouse space with a patio, bar, and dining area, perfect for a relaxing day out with friends. There are plenty of events to enjoy — including brunch options, live performances, game nights, trivia, and yoga — and the beers are first-rate.
Be sure to try flagships like Pluff Mud Porter: Northern Brewer hops with a London Ale yeast; Overly Friendly IPA: a dry hopped American IPA; or seasonal favorites like the Sparkly Princess: a kettle soured IPA hopped with Eldorado, dry-hopped with the same; and Madam Basil: a collab with Tradesman and Frothy Beard, this basil saison brew gives more than subtle fruity flavor — $1 from every pint benefits My Sister’s House, an emergency shelter provider for domestic violence victims.
INDIGO REEF BREWING
Indigo Reef Brewing, (2079 Wambaw Creek, Charleston) is one of Charleston’s newer breweries. Opened in 2019 as a natural offshoot of the owners Christopher and Nicole Ranere’s home brewing hobby, Indigo Reef features a calm and cozy taproom, live music, plenty of cool events (ya gotta check out their Make Your own Railroad Spike night), and an eclectic list of beers on draft. Dublin Drought — a dry Irish stout — is one of their best, along with Mola Mola juicy IPA and Bella’s Helles Munich Helles.
The name ‘Indigo Reef Brewing’ represents the Ranere’s combined love of their new hometown (where indigo was once a cash crop), scuba diving, and brewing. Equally committed to southern hospitality, they work to ensure their beer is approachable and non-intimidating.
A music-centered brewery with a funky-cool vibe and relaxed, open-concept atmosphere (pinball too!), LO-Fi Brewing (2038 Meeting St. Rd., Charleston), offers a selection of ‘beers of pure luxury.’ There’s plenty of great live music on the menu, along with a stream of classic music-alike shows — Steely Dan and Prince —and some of Charleston’s top brewery food from a rotating cast of vendors. Stop in on the weekends for beer specials to go along with football. The highlight of their beer menu? The reliable, tasty Lo-Fi Lager, a Mexican-style lager described as a lifestyle beer.
LOW TIDE BREWING
The first brewery to come to John’s Island, Low Tide Brewing (2863 Maybank Highway, Johns Island) opened in March 2016, inviting Charleston locals and visitors alike onto its front porch and into its lively taproom. The brewery offers a delicious selection of uniquely crafted beers that both explore flavor potential and respect brewing conventions. With a terrific communal vibe, the Low Tide taproom is sure to quickly become a buzzing social hub for all beer lovers. Low Tide has had no trouble fitting into the city’s craft community, with its beers already popping up at local hot spots like Charleston Beer Works and Bohemian Bull. Keep your eye out around town for any Low Tide kegs on tap.
MUNKLE BREWING CO.
Down the street from Lo-Fi is one of the most unique Charleston breweries, the Belgian-inspired Munkle Brewing Co. (1513 Meeting St. Rd., Charleston). Drawing inspiration from the life of the owner’s uncle — a former Benedictine monk and accomplished brewer — Munkle focuses on old-world, time-honored recipes and styles from Europe, with hearty brews in the traditional Belgian, Trappist, and German fashion.
Be sure to try their Brugge City Brune, with Belgian Candi syrup made from beet sugar, or the 66 Bull Blonde with German Hallertau hops and local Charleston honey. The brewery’s just as inviting, with a casually engaging vibe, an indoor-outdoor bar, billiards tables, rocking chairs, and plenty of screens for live events. Oh , and be sure to give a pat to Brugge, Munkle’s shop dog.
PALMETTO BREWING COMPANY
With a history dating back to the 1800s, South Carolina’s oldest brewery is one of the few actually located in downtown Charleston proper,or as the locals say, on the peninsula. Offering personal tours, warehouse and speakeasy taprooms, frequent pop-up food trucks, and courtyard with games, live music and more, Palmetto Brewing Company (289 Huger St., Charleston) is a don’t-miss stop.
Mainstay brews feature the deep golden Lowcountry Lager with Vienna malt; Downtown Door Knocker: a pineapple hazy IPA; and the roasted, sweet and smooth medium-bodied Espresso Porter.
PAWLEYS ISLAND BREWING
The Pawleys Island Charm comes through at Pawleys Island Brewing (2668 Industrial Ave., N. Charleston), only a short walk away from the Ashley Shores neighborhood. One of the hidden gems of Charleston breweries, this laid-back and super-chill brewery destination is perfect for a lazy weekend day. Sipping Pawleys brew delights more than your palate; you’ll help area sea turtles with What the Shell tropical lager and black IPA — both help support the South Carolina Aquarium’s mission to save sea turtles and protect shorelines.
Aside from those favorites, the Pawleys Island Brewery features a menu full of experimental, out-of-left-field options like the fruit beers Strawberry Rhubarb Rye, Coquina Plum, and Cranberry Sauced.
As one of the NoMo neighborhood’s better known brew pubs, Revelry Brewing (10 Conroy St., Charleston) serves up frothy creations to a loyal, energetic crowd. From IPA’s to Belgian Quad’s, over 30 craft brews are offered, five of which took top awards in recent years. The names alone tempt tasting more than one: Spinal Evisceration, Baby It’s Cold Outside, Poke the Bear, and Glorious Bastard to name a few. With an awesome downtown Charleston location and an onsite kitchen offering charcuterie and cheese boards, alongside Asian and Latin treats — including 5 different tacos along with burritos, sushi rolls, and more — Revelry is a beer and foodie lovers haven.
Pop in on a self-guided tour of many breweries, or settle in for a one-stop night of good fun. Hence the name, the brewery itself is built for fun, with bugle-shape taps and a mural of a boisterous trumpeter behind a bar built off of a retired piano. A large first floor patio opens from the cozy wrap around bar. Shiny stills and large oak barrels lend to the authenticity.
Crowning their 3-story industrial facility is a premiere rooftop bar. Terrific sunsets give way to night when more than the beer pops with hop, especially with Saturday night’s DJ. Dog friendliness extends to their amusing social media, #dogsofrevelry, where man’s best friend is a true brew companion.
RUSTY BULL BREWING CO.
Bearing one of our favorite brewery names, the Rusty Bull Brewing Co. (3005 W. Montague Ave., N. Charleston) is a blast — a rollicking fun taproom experience full of great beer and great times. Rusty Bull boasts trivia, live music, a full kitchen (try the signature hot honey chicken sandwich or the boiled peanuts app), plus ChuckTown Axe Throwing is right next door (though we don’t advise over serving yourself with ax throwing!)
Standard pours include Dance Naked: a medium pale body pine and citrus flavored IPA hopped with Citra and El Dorado; dry Cidah!: Dextrose grains dry-hopped with Cascade; and the big and boozy 9.5 ABV Free the Trippel: Belgian-style with Saaz hops and coriander. Sunday offers $1 your brews when you wear Rusty Bull hats, tees or hoodies.
Snafu Brewing (3280 Industry Dr., N. Charleston) specializes in fruited sour beers. Founded in 2016 by Scott Koon — aka Skoon — with a passion for solid beers. Located in an old-school brewery vibe warehouse, this dog-friendly local favorite features games and sports to enjoy as you sip brews and munch treats from such local food trucks as Drunk Tony’s (Italian) and 2 Island 1 Truck (Filipino and Puertorican).
The ever-changing weekly beer menu includes Sublime in the Coconut, kettle sour with limes and a hint of coconut; and Triple-Dog Pear Ya kettle sour conditioned on ginger and vanilla bean. Other pours include Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test: sour beer conditioned on Concord grape juice; and SC Brewers Guild award-winner Shadow of Death: roasty noted with lots of chocolate.
This young nanobrewery already has made its mark in the local beer community with an impressive selection and nearly 3000 annual barrel production. Tradesman Brewing (1639 Tatum St., Charleston) offers a friendly nod to Jack and Jill’s of all trades with tool-shaped tap handles and aptly named beers. A cozy, welcoming taproom at their new downtown King St. location is the perfect space to sample from their full list of IPA’s, DIPA’s, Red Ale, Belgian Dubbel, Saison’s and Pilsners.
Founded by husband and wife team Scott and Sara Gayle McConnell in 2014, with co-owner Chris Winn joining the team in January 2015. Become a member of Union Club and gain access to small batch growlers and barrel aged along with monthly meetings discussing upcoming events, beer releases, and research and design. This all available while having a cold one in a dog friendly setting, what else could a beer lover want?
TWO BLOKES BREWING COMPANY
“Solid, unpretentious, and approachable beers” dominate the menu at Two Blokes Brewing (547 Long Point RD., Mt Pleasant). This engaging spot offers a full range of colorful beers with global styles. Try their London Calling English porter, or bourbon-barrel-aged varieties like Tournesol bier de garde, Tart Vader, and “Putin The Terrible” Russian Stout. There’s also a local connection with the Carolina Creek Pilsner, brewed with Carolina-grown barley. Two Blokes also features a diverse collection of food trucks providing more than just a “side” to accompany a cold pour from the taps to go along with the brews.
WESTBROOK BREWING COMPANY
With its distribution now stretching from South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, New Jersey, New York and Denmark, they Westbrook Brewing Company (510 Ridge Rd., Mt Pleasant) has a long and wide reach. Its welcoming crew offers free tours nearly every hour while its tasting room is open, and with eight taps circulating an impressive selection, visitors may find themselves never wanting.
Food trucks and pop-ups appear on a regular basis. One of the most popular brews are their limited release, highly sought after, Mexican Cake, and Barrel aged Mexican Cake — the former releases early in the year, the later aged. Bottled, not canned, with elegant wax seals, release dates are posted online. Imperial stout aged on cocoa nibs, cinnamon, vanilla and habanero peppers. First brewed in 2012 to celebrate their first anniversary, it was so deliciously well received they continue bringing it back every year.
While we’ve covered some of our favs in the guide, hot new breweries and crafters regularly appear on the scene. We’d love to hear about, and see yours? Tag us on Insta @CharlestonGateway, FB @GatewayPub, or drop us a line. Don’t forget to Subscribe to our magazine for more must-see and -do ideas round town.
Please be sure to contact each establishment to verify opening hours, reservation policies, health requirements, and any other variations.