Beautiful beaches, ancient trees sagging with Spanish moss, old wooden porches on quaint Southern homes—all are parts of the pleasant charm that fills Charleston. But these days tourists and locals alike have their minds set on another side of the city: its rapidly growing craft-beer industry.
With several new breweries opening in the past couple years and multiple more in development, the Charleston area is becoming a cultural utopia for beer geeks. With more breweries continuing to fill the market, it may seem that local beer production is becoming overly competitive. But brewers don’t see it that way. “It’s not a competition,” says Joey Siconolfi, of Frothy Beard Brewing, a nanobrewery that brews only a barrel and a half of beer per batch. “It’s a local beer community; we collaborate and work together. We help drive and inspire each other.”
Chris Brown, of Holy City Brewing, agrees. “This city can sustain a lot of local beer … the more the merrier.”
The brewers agreed on yet another point: There is no room for lousy beer in Charleston. As Freehouse Brewery’s Arthur Lucas put it, “It’s up to each brewery to make the best product they can make ... but more breweries will push for better beer.”
To get first-hand experience with true Southern hospitality, pay a visit to one of the local breweries listed in our guide below. Visitors can sign up to be chauffeured from one brewery to the next with a Charleston beer tour, or they can simply check hours online and drive to one of the city’s elegant tasting rooms.
Westbrook Brewing Co.
With its distribution now stretching as far as New York and Denmark, Westbrook Brewing Company has produced some excellent brews that have found their place among local beer lovers’ favorites. Its welcoming crew offers free tours just about every hour while its tasting room is open, and with eight taps circulating an impressive selection, visitors may find themselves never wanting to leave.
- The One Claw: A rye pale ale with a hoppy, citrusy nose and a sweet, malty spice that goes down smoothly, but with a slight bite that keeps you wanting another sip.
- The Gose: A salty, sour wheat beer for the beer drinker who wants to experience some truly powerful flavor.
Get there: 510 Ridge Road, Mount Pleasant, 843.654.9114
Holy City Brewing Co.
“It was part of our mission from day one to become and remain a part of the local community,” says brewer Chris Brown, and his words ring true. In downtown Charleston, the Holy City logo is everywhere, from the backs of rickshaws to the fronts of the locals’ T-shirts, and visitors will be hard-pressed to find a friendlier atmosphere than the Holy City taproom.
- The Pluff Mud Porter: The flagship winner of a 2012 Great American Beer Festival gold medal, this beer has a chocolaty, nutty start and a smooth finish, and its low-alcohol content makes it a refreshing porter even during Charleston’s hot summers.
Get there: 4155 C Dorchester Road, North Charleston, 843.225.6089
Palmetto Brewing Co.
South Carolina’s oldest brewery is one of the few actually located in downtown Charleston proper and has a history that dates back to the 1800s. With personal tours available and a newly renovated taproom, Palmetto is a don’t-miss stop. Who knows? Maybe there will be a local food truck parked right outside.
- The Espresso Porter: Made with the cooperation of Charleston Coffee Roasters, located next door to the brewery, this full-bodied porter offers rich coffee tasting notes and light notes of chocolate.
- The Charleston Lager: This smooth, crisp lager is easy-drinking with a full flavor.
Get there: 289 Huger St., Charleston, 843.937.0903
Coast Brewing Co.
This family-owned, energy-efficient brewery gives its used grain to local farmers at Legare Farms to feed their cattle and runs its brew house on waste-feedstock biodiesel. Using local and organic ingredients, Coast Brewing Company has made a big name for itself among Charleston beer fanatics.
- The Bull’s Bay Oyster Stout: A seasonal stout brewed with local Charleston oysters.
- The Wadmalaw Sunset: a Belgian strong pale ale made with a gratuitous amount of local honey and named after Charleston County’s own Wadmalaw Island.
Get there: 1250 N 2nd St., North Charleston, 843.343.4727
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 Arthur Lucas. “Our brewery is located right on the beautiful Ashley River, and we have that to thank for our Ashley Farmhouse Ale.”
- Folly’s Pride: A grapefruit-blonde, summer-session ale with a light, citrusy taste. It’s made with 10 pounds of organic grapefruit zest, but don’t worry; not a single grapefruit is wasted because of Freehouse’s partnership with local health-minded business Juice Joint.
Get there: 2895 Pringle St., North Charleston
Frothy Beard Brewing Co.
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 certainly does. Siconolfi notes that his ambitious crew recently brewed a cream ale using grits from local restaurant Hominy Grill. Who knows what tasty concoction it will mix up next?
- The Zingiber Pale Ale: A light, sweet pale ale brewed with fresh ginger to give it just the right amount of spice. This is the perfect beer for a sunny Charleston afternoon, preferably in a rocking chair on a front porch.
Get there: 7358 Peppermill Parkway Suite B, North Charleston, 843.793.2970 2970 (Note: Frothy Beard is in the process of moving to West Ashley.)
Tradesman Brewing Co.
This young nanobrewery already has made its mark in the local beer community with an impressive selection. Tradesman Brewing offers a friendly nod to workers of all sorts with its tool-shaped tap handles and aptly named beers. Its cozy, welcoming taproom is the perfect space to take a load off and taste its selections.
- The Circuit Breaker IPA: A clean, smooth IPA with a well-balanced hop character: well-made, simple, delicious.
- The Brick Layer’s Red Ale: An American amber or red ale brewed with roasted barley and California yeast and offering a crisp texture and a rich, malty flavor.
Get there: 1639 Tatum St., Charleston, 843.410.1315
Revelry Brewing Co.
With an awesome downtown Charleston location and an onsite kitchen offering appetizers, charcuterie and cheese boards and pressed sandwiches, the Revelry brewery is a must-visit. It’s the kind of brewery where you can stop in on a local tour or just 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. They even host live music every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and.. oh yeah— their beer! Well, let’s just say they’ve already been nominated for a Best Local Brewery award, and they took home not one, but four medals at the 2015 US Open Beer Championships. So they might be among the new kids on the block, but they’re kind of a big deal.
- Gullah Cream Ale: Brewed using Wadmalaw Island’s Geechie Boy Grits, this 2015 US Open Beer Championship’s silver medal winner is sweet and dry, with a nice, full mouth feel.
Get there: 10 Conroy St., Charleston, 843.203.6194
Two words can be found hashtagging nearly every one of LO-Fi’s social media posts and on its website’s homepage: “pure luxury.” It might be impossible to think of another two words in the English language that better articulate the current state of Charleston craft beer, and LO-Fi is out to set the city’s opulent beer standards even higher. Opened by Jason Caughman, a founder of Pisgah Brewing near Asheville, NC, LO-Fi has a dreamy, vibey appeal that fits perfectly into the beachy, happy-go-lucky energy of Charleston summertime. And nothing goes better with that than this brewery’s refreshing selection of innovative craft beers.
- LO-Fi Blueberry: Creamy and sweet, this one starts with a malty wheat flavor and finishes with a mouthful of blueberry deliciousness.
Get there: 2038 Meeting St., Charleston
Cooper River Brewing Co.
Among Charleston’s newest breweries, Cooper River has settled into downtown’s Wagener Terrace. The neighborhood is known for being sort of inconspicuous 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.” For visitors looking for their first taste of what craft brewing is all about, Cooper River is a great place to start. “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.”
- Orange Infused Blonde Ale: A great summer beer, this crisp blonde ale has rich notes of citrus.
Get there: 2201-B Mechanic St., Charleston, 843.830.3681
Low Tide Brewing
The first brewery to come to John’s Island, Low Tide 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, so keep your eye out around town for any Low Tide kegs on tap.
- Down the Hatch Session IPA: A nice, approachable IPA with a great gold color and a brilliant balance of bitter and sweet.
Get there: 2863 Maybank Hwy, Johns Island, 843.501.7570
Ghost Monkey Brewery
Joining Westbrook in Mount Pleasant, Ghost Monkey is a brand new nano brewery offering beer fans 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.” 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.
- Lemon-Basil IPA: As the name might suggest, it’s a glass of lemony, basily, hoppy goodness. You can’t go wrong here.
Get there: 522 Wando Lane, Mount Pleasant, 843.352.3462
Be on the look out for these breweries opening up soon in the Charleston area:
Blue Root Brewing: Formerly known as Good & Evil Brewing, this brewery is still in development, but their craft beers have been popping up lately in events such as BrewHaHa and the SC Brewer’s Festival!
Twisted Cypress Brewing Company: With plans to open their brewing facility this Fall, Twisted Cypress is the first local brewery to be based in West Ashley. They have already had some of their wares on tap at local beer havens like Mount Pleasant’s Charleston Beer Garden. Find them at: 1897 Sam Rittenberg Blvd, Charleston (West Ashley)
Two Blokes Brewing: Soon to join Westbrook and Ghost Monkey in Mount Pleasant, Two Blokes’ brewery is currently in construction, with plans to open this year. The facility will have an on-site taproom complete with iconic bowler-hat-logoed tap handles. Find them at: 547 Long Point Road, Unit 101, Mount Pleasant
Fat Pig Brewing: Currently brewing out Tradesman Brewing Co.’s space, Fat Pig recently announced that they will soon relocate to their very own brew house, joining Twisted Cypress in West Ashley. Their beers are already being enjoyed in several SC cities, including Hilton Head, Colombia, and obviously their hometown of Charleston.
Snafu Brewing: North Charleston’s newest craft brewing endeavor, Snafu is owned and operated by a husband and wife duo with a passion for solid beers. Keep an eye on tap lists and bar chalkboards for their beers; they’ll be pouring into pint glasses before long. Find them at: 3280 Industry Drive, North Charleston