Until not so long ago, there was only one beer brewery in all of Charleston, South Carolina. You’d never think so to look at it today, with craft beer now a booming business in this Southern American beer hub.
At last count, there were around 30 breweries in Charleston SC – a large chunk of the Palmetto state’s total of 80+ beer-brewing establishments. This flourishing beer industry is drawing increasing numbers of tourists to the city each season. Charleston now even hosts two major beer festivals each year – Charleston Beer Fest and Charleston Beer Week in October and November respectively.
For your beer-tasting pleasure, we’ve put together a list of the top 5 Charleston breweries, each with its own special something, in and around the city to visit the next time you are in town.
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The Oldest Alehouse In Town: Palmetto Brewing Company
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Remember how we mentioned that there was once only one brewery in Charleston? We were talking about Palmetto Brewing Company. This downtown alehouse was the first to open its doors since the end of prohibition. (Its name pays homage to the original Palmetto Brewery, which stood from 1888 until South Carolina entered prohibition in 1916.) In fact, this is the oldest and largest brewery in the state of South Carolina.
In the two decades since its 1993 launch, Palmetto has made a name for itself as the best of all the Charleston breweries. In addition to producing a delicious range of IPAs, lagers, hazy ales, and porters, Palmetto Brewery has a vibe that’s hard to beat. The spacious venue features a warehouse taproom, speakeasy taproom, and courtyard (including two bars). It’s a popular destination – with all sorts of entertainment, including games, live music and more – beloved by tourists and locals alike. In fact, it was voted The South’s Best Brewery by Southern Living readers in 2022.
- Location: 289 Huger Street.
- Opened: 1993.
- Seating: Plenty of long tables inside and outside, plus two bars for quicker service.
- Tours & Tastings: Regular VIP Tour & Tasting events can be enjoyed for $45 per person.
- Food: Grab a burger or light snack from the resident Gobble Gobble food truck.
- Events: Regular special events – watch their events calendar for updates.
- Hours: Mondays to Thursdays 4pm – 10pm, Fridays & Saturdays 12pm – 10pm, Sundays 12pm to 7pm.
- We recommend: Idle Speed Salted Lime Lager.
Sour Beers With A Sweet Vibe: SNAFU Brewing Company
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Just 12 minutes northwest of Charleston, SNAFU Brewing Company is well worth the drive out of town (to nearby North Charleston). It’s the ideal tasting locale for beer lovers who enjoy a quirky vibe as much as an alternative beer. Of all the breweries Charleston SC has produced thus far, Snafu leads the pack when it comes to sours, although it also features some stouts, IPAs, and pale ales.
This place presents no airs and graces, with graffiti-accented minimalist décor in an open warehouse-style taproom, where your dog will feel as at home as you do. Enjoy your tasting flight over a game of pool or table tennis or try your luck at the pinball machine.
With a name that means “Situation Normal All F*d Up”, SNAFU is the epitome of young, risqué craft beer culture – an old school brewery creating new school beers.
- Location: 3280 Industry Drive, North Charleston.
- Opened: 2016.
- Seating: Indoors and outdoors. No reservations needed.
- Tours & Tastings: Contact the brewery for details about tasting flights and tours – the staff behind the bar are super friendly and really know their stuff.
- Food: Regular food trucks on site – watch the venue’s calendar for updates.
- Events: Usually focussed on whichever food truck is on-site – watch the calendar for updates.
- Hours: Mondays to Wednesdays 3pm – 7pm, Thursdays & Fridays 3pm – 9pm, Saturdays 2pm – 9pm, Sundays 12pm – 6pm.
- We recommend: Primo Golden Ale (Best Light Ale in the 2022 SC Brewers Guild Awards), Watermelon Lemonade Sour.
Rooftop Tasting: Revelry Brewing Company
Take your tasting upstairs to Charleston’s only rooftop alehouse at Revelry Brewing Company. The look and atmosphere here are about as “crafty” as one brewery can get. Industrial-chic is perhaps the best term to describe the décor at Revelry Brewing Company, which is housed within two converted shipping containers, one stacked on top of the other.
Downstairs, you can sample one of the 16 ever-evolving beers on tap, with the taproom occupying the same space as the brewing vats and distilling equipment. Upstairs is where the vibe is at, with live music, trivia nights, sushi, and more in the rooftop bar overlooking all of North Charleston.
This is one of a few Charleston breweries recommended by Condé Nast Traveler, its beers keep raking in awards each year, and nobody throws a party quite like Revelry Brewing Company. (Visit The Hold, a block away in Romney Street, for more Revelry magic.)
- Location: 10 Conroy Street.
- Opened: 2014.
- Seating: Indoors and outdoors, including a cosy tasting room and rooftop bar.
- Tours & Tastings: Regular brewery tours at $40 per person– check the venue’s events calendar. Flights are available in 4oz pours. The servers are as knowledgeable as they are patient with your beer-related questions.
- Food: On-site food truck, serving light Southern fare and sushi.
- Events: Live music on weekends plus kickball leagues, trivia nights, and more.
- Hours: Mondays to Fridays 4pm – 10pm, Saturdays & Sundays 12pm – 10pm.
- We recommend: Lefty Loosey IPA, Hotel Rendezvous Bavarian.
Beers On The Island: Low Tide Brewery
Travel west, across the Stono River, to enjoy beers crafted with food pairing in mind at Low Tide Brewery. This, the first of the Charleston breweries on Johns Island, has a rustic, beachy vibe in keeping with its locale and is as beloved among locals as it is by tourists.
Low Tide Brewery takes beer tasting to another level, with brews carefully crafted (in partnership with local chefs and restaurants) to complement particular food styles and dishes. All of this, with a touch of Old English class to give it that authentic, New England flavour. The extensive selection of stouts, sours, ales, lagers, and seltzers partners perfectly with the wide array of delectable dishes prepared by local food trucks on site.
- Location: Maybank Highway, Johns Island.
- Opened: 2016.
- Seating: Spacious indoors and outdoors under a gazebo.
- Tours & Tastings: $12 per flight of four (4oz) beers of your choice (plus an extra $3 to keep your flight glass). No daily tours but guests are welcome to ask the bartender for one during quiet times. Pre-booked tours for large groups are available on request.
- Food: On-site food trucks daily – check the brewery’s events calendar for updates.
- Events: Frequent trivia and bingo nights, among others.
- Hours: Thursdays & Fridays 3pm – 10pm, Fridays & Saturdays 12pm – midnight, Sundays 12pm – 10pm.
- We recommend: Aloha Beaches (2021 Charleston’s Choice award winner for best local beer), Peanut Butter Pandemonium Stout.
Frothy Beard Brewing Company
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The team at Frothy Beard Brewing Company on Sam Rittenberg Boulevard make it their mission to bring fun and flavour to the Lowcountry. Beer and pizza lovers converge in this farmhouse-meets-warehouse brewpub, where guests can enjoy their Frothy Beard brew over a bite from the on-site Zombie Bob’s Pizza menu.
Launched in 2013, Frothy Beard is one of the OG craft beer Charleston SC breweries – only the 10th to open in South Carolina. Guests gather around the bar or at tables in the taproom and tasting patio to sample brews from 32 different rotating taps and enjoy the best live entertainment. Take a peek through the round windows behind the bar to see the actual inner workings of the Frothy Beard nano-brewery.
- Location: 1401 Sam Rittenberg Boulevard.
- Opened: 2013.
- Seating: Spacious indoor and outdoor (under a quaint canopy) seating for large and small groups.
- Tours & Tastings: Flights cost $10 for four 4oz pours.
- Food: Zombie Bobs on-site restaurant featuring burgers, pies, sandwiches, pizza and more.
- Events: Daily events and activities including the Frothy Beer Run Club, beer release parties, and trivia nights.
- Hours: Thursdays to Saturdays 11:30am – 10pm, Sundays to Wednesdays 11:30am – 9pm.
- We recommend: Declaration Draft (Charleston gold rice ale), Sip Sip Pass IPA.
Of course, these are just a few of the amazing Charleston SC breweries you can visit the next time you are in the Lowcountry. There are plenty more that closely follow the latest beer industry trends and offer exceptional brews and so much more!