“Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer! - Martin Luther, German theologian, author, and leader of the Protestant Reformation.
Charleston clings to Christ and blesses beer. And because the sophisticated, southern city demands quality crafts, she brews her own to ensure it meets her high society expectations. Across the region, local breweries aim to perfect the best ales and lagers and present hospitable places for guests to enjoy them. Interestingly, Charleston breweries do not embrace a competitive spirit against each other; rather, the owners and operators establish a camaraderie, a brotherhood, and an appreciation for each other's work. Beer is serious business, and aficionados appreciate the Lowcountry’s wide variety.
Whether visiting Charleston or calling Charleston home, here are 10 breweries to pour, as Johnny Depp would say, a mega pint.
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Established in 1888, Palmetto Brewery is Charleston’s oldest brewing company. The brewery, which withstood the hurricane of 1886, the earthquake of 1887, and the Civil War, did not survive the Prohibition and shuttered its barrels for nearly 80 years. In the late 1980s, two drinking buddies and engineers, Ed Falkenstein and Louis Bruce, decided to recreate the historic brewery. Today, under the ownership of Catawba Brewing Company, Palmetto Brewery remains a downtown staple. Located at 289 Huger Street, the brewery is well-known for its light ales, including Huger Street IPA, Lowcountry Lager, and Downtown Door Knocker. These notorious beers pair well with the brewery’s menu items, which include beef, turkey, and veggie burgers as well as potato rounds, fried brussel sprouts, and vegan salads.
Holy City Brewery
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The story of Holy City Brewery’s origin reads like a movie script. Two close friends, both of whom worked as rickshaw peddlers in downtown Charleston, began experimenting with beer fermentation during the slow winter months. Using beer kegs and bicycle parts, the friends, Joel Carl and Sean Nemitz rigged together a pilot system and began the homebrewing process. Another friend, Mac Minaudo, offered a large warehouse off Dorchester Road, which was much more suitable than the bicycle shed, and then Chris Brown, who graduated from brewer school, joined the group to solidify the start of Holy City Brewing. Substantial growth required a bigger venue, and HCB moved its operation to Park Circle in 2019. The present brewery has a four vessel, 30-barrel system, an expansive taproom, outdoor stage, picnic area, and a private area for events. Flagship beers include Pluff Mud Porter, Holy City Pilsner, Washout Wheat, and Overly Friendly IPA.
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Located on Daniel Island, New Realm Brewery Company is one of Charleston’s newer establishments. The company, which first launched its flagship brewery in Atlanta, Georgia, is well known for its creative crafts and commitment to avoid stagnation. In this regard, New Realm consistently alters, expands, and unearths new techniques within its hop-filled realm. Fan favorites include Euphonia, a German-style Pilsner; the Commissioner, a Belgian golden ale; and Hoplandia, a west-coast inspired IPA. With approximately 20 choices, patrons are certain to find a beer that suits their mood and palette. New Realm also features an expansive lunch and dinner menu as well as live music. The outdoor area is perfect for lazy lager afternoons or pit stops before one of the concerts at Credit One Stadium.
Rusty Bull Brewing
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Arguably the coolest concept, Rusty Bull Brewing offers quality craft beers in an expansive bar-style warehouse. The space features an area for ax throwing, dancing, eating, watching tv, and, of course, drinking beer. The namesake comes from owners Ben Mayer’s dad, “Rusty,” and Brian Bogstad’s uncle, “Bull.” Both men had a tremendous impact on Ben and Brian, and they wanted to pay homage to their personality, generosity, and enthusiasm for beer. Located off Ashley Phosphate in North Charleston, Rusty Bull Brewing is well known for its citrus-fused IPAs such as Juice Juice, Dance Naked, Dubbel Trouble, Uncle Slam, and BellyItcher, a beer crafted specifically for the Charleston Riverdog baseball franchise. A family and pet-friendly taproom, Rusty Bull is ideal for Saturday afternoons.
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One of the fancier breweries and eateries in Charleston, Edmund Oast is the brainchild of two buddies who, after owning and operating the Charleston Beer Exchange, decided to brew their own buds. Today, Edmund Oast encompasses three posts: The Restaurant and Brewpub (1082 Morrison Drive), The Brewing Company and Taproom ( 1505 King Street), and The Exchange (1081-B Morrison Dr.). On tap, Edmund Oast offers a wide variety of sour, malty, hoppy, and light beers. These beers can be found at most local beer stores and grocery stores across South Carolina.
Westbrook Brewing Company
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Morgan and Edward Westbrook, who began home-brewing kegs in college to make money, decided to make a career of this unique craft. At their wedding reception, Edward brewed and served “Mexican Cake,” an AVB stout beer infused with vanilla, cocoa nibs, habernos, and cinnamon. The guests so enjoyed the flavorful suds that the Westbrooks promised to make it their first anniversary beer. Every May or June, the Westbrook Brewery bottles and sells Mexican Cake beer. Other fan favorites include White Thai, Chs Pils, Indian Pale Ale, Gose, and One Claw. The brewery also makes fruitful seltzers such as Pineapple Cherry Smash, Key Lime Pie, and Strawberry Lemon as well as dessert-tasting hops such as Apple Pie, Strawberry Rhubarb, and Maximum Florida. Located in Mount Pleasant, Westbrook Brewing Company serves small cheese plates and features various food trucks on site.
Frothy Beard Brewing Company
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With two locations, one in Summerville and one in West Ashley, Frothy Beard Brewing Company is quickly becoming a household name across the entire Southeast. The company originated in 2013 when three friends – Joey, Michael, and Steve – committed themselves to creating flavorful drinks and hosting fun events. Today, the expansive taproom, which offers 32 beers on tap, features stand up comedy shows, trivia nights, karaoke, and private parties. For food, menu items include loaded nachos, pretzel bites, fresh salads, burgers, wings, and a wide array of signature pizzas.
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Located in the vibrant downtown area of Park Circle, Commonhouse Aleworks in North Charleston upholds the simple philosophy of serving “uncommonly good beer with a purpose.” A portion of the proceeds from beer sales directly impacts local community initiatives such as Lowcountry Orphan Relief, Make a Wish Foundation, Charleston Trident Urban League, and several LGTBQ+ organizations. Commonhouse Aleworks core beers include Air is Salty, Looking East, Park Circle Ale, and Wise One Lager. The brewery also features various seasonal and limited release beers throughout the year. To compliment the tasty beer, the garden-style taproom offers menu times such as burgers, chicken sandwiches, wings, and soft pretzels.
Snafu Brewing Company
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Specializing in fruitful, sour beers, Snafu Brewing Company exudes a laid-back, soulful vibe. Founded by Scott Koon, affectionately called “Skoon” by his friends and family, Snafu opened in 2016 in North Charleston’s industrial district. The open taproom, friendly faces, and delicious beer make it a popular hangout spot for locals from across the tri-county region. Snafu, which is an acronym for “Situation Normal All F&*%ed Up”,” features sour beers such as the Stoned Age and Watermelon Jolly Rancher; hoppy beers like Hungry Ghost and Cashmere Millionaires; light beers like Primo and Blanc Pils; and dark beers like Shadow of Death.
Revelry Brewing Company
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As Charleston’s only rooftop brewery, the Revelry Brewing Company, which is located at 36 Romney Street downtown Charleston, showcases a sesentational view of the city and offers a wide variety of sour, hoppy, light, and dark beers such as Glorious Bastard, 1685, Poke the Bear, Smooth like Jazz, Up Shem Creek, and Kill Ian, a red ale. Revelry Brewing Company has won numerous awards including the US Beer Championship for its beer Hotel Rendezvous, Up Shem Creek, Gullah Cream Ale, and Baby It’s Cold Outside, and Red 5 Standing By; and Best of Craft Award for Smooth Like Jazz, Chateau, Jackson with Peach, and Oktoberfest; and numerous South Carolina Beer Awards. The venue is ideal for happy hour socials or private events.
Other local breweries in Charleston worth checking out include LoFi Brewing, Tradesman, Munkle, Cooper River Brewing, BrewLab, Indigo Reef, Coast, and Chucktown Brewing. Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. President, once opined, “Beer, if drunk in moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit, and promotes health.” Perhaps this is the reason Charleston continuously ranks as the country’s most polite city: local beer keeps Charlestonians happy. So, when visiting the historic city, take time to tour each brewery, sample the selections, and toast new friends. Cheers!
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