Charleston has been sipping super suds for years -- Westbrook Brewing, Coast Brewing, Holy City Brewing, and Palmetto Brewing have a special place in our hearts and our fridges. But in the past couple of years, the city has experienced an explosion of breweries all across the metro area. To keep that beer belly in check, we’ve narrowed down our favorites of the freshman class of Charleston breweries. While we have high hopes for all the budding breweries, these newbies are standouts in a city that knows its drink.
This Uptown spot might feel like it’s been around more than its two years, because the beer brewed here is some of the best in Charleston. From Gullah Cream Ale, a 2016 Gold Medal winner at the US Open Beer Championships, to Dr. Shepard’s Specialtea made with Charleston Tea Plantation tea, Revelry is giving the Holy City something to celebrate. Brew that with a hopping NoMo spot and a newly opened rooftop terrace and, well, shall we meet you there?
Pretty much around the corner from big dog Westbrook Brewing, nano-brewery Ghost Monkey has quickly made a name for itself for more than just proximity reasons. The tasting room is comfy, the food trucks that visit are crowd favorites (chow down on the likes of Food Box and Rolled Quesadillas), and the beers are more than just a name. From JoJo the Nitro Coffee Stout to Haymaker, a farmhouse ale, Ghost Monkey is brewing up damn good additions to Charleston pint glasses.
Tradesman can be easy to miss since it’s in a nondescript building behind an old-fashioned service station on James Island. That “working-stiff” vibe works perfectly for the brewery, which champions “regular beer for regular folk.” There’s method behind that motto; Tradesman has firmly established itself on the scene through -- you guessed it -- hard work and good beer. The Welder’s Wheat Ale is the most popular of its offerings, but increasing seasonals and collaborations with the female Brewsters club hint of bigger things to come.
North Charleston/West Ashley
Fans of this brewery will soon have more access to an innovative small-batch taproom bonanza, after FB moves from its Peppermill Parkway digs to West Ashley later this year. From Holy Water (a saison) to Sumter Street Amber and Its Cucumber Thyme! Wheat, there’s always something really interesting on tap. There’s also a lot of it -- Frothy Beard has 15 taps going at any one time, which is impressive for the size of the brewery. And there’s even more reason to celebrate -- the new locale will have pizza!
Some people said an organic brewery couldn’t be done in SC. We don’t know those people -- we’re too busy drinking organic beer at Freehouse on the beautiful banks of the Ashley River. Its saisons and sours really hit the spot during Charleston’s hot days, while the river location offers a (somewhat) cooling breeze. Freehouse also has a bottle program for aging beers, including the Pink Squirt Saison that’s super-tart and citrusy (it’s even more fun to order).
Currently without a taproom, this company is nonetheless making a sudsy splash on the Charleston scene with its Blueberry Wheat IPA and Mexican Lager. Look for Lo-Fi brews on taps all across the region, from Tattooed Moose to the Bar at Husk. You’ll be able to find them by the psychedelic-colored tap handles (which match its equally psychedelic website).
East Bay St
Now occupying the former Southend Brewery & Smokehouse on East Bay St, big brewer Lagunitas put down roots in the Lowcountry. The California company now has an outpost that also includes 10 exclusive-to-Charleston Laguintas brews. It opened last month, and its visible location, big name, and proximity to the cruise-ship dock has created a “buzz” already.
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1. Revelry Brewing10 Conroy St, Charleston
2. Ghost Monkey Brewery522 Wando Ln, Mt. Pleasant
3. Tradesman Brewing1639 Tatum St, Charleston
4. Frothy Beard Brewing Company7358 Peppermill Pkwy Ste B, North Charleston
5. Freehouse Brewery2895 Pringle St, North Charleston
6. Lo-Fi Brewing2038 Meeting Street Rd, North Charleston
7. Lagunitas Tap Room & Beer Sanctuary161 E Bay St, Charleston
This lively, community-based bar and brewery in Charleston serves tasty small-batch brews for a fair price. Their happy hour deals are legendary (where else could you get beer this good for mere quarters?), and they host lots of boisterous, social events, free and open to the public. Revel in the fun at Revelry.
The crew at Mount Pleasant’s Ghost Monkey brewery play with flavor combinations (a lemon-basil IPA!) and their beers are named winkingly: the Kolsch is “Yoga Pants,” the cream ale is “Spanked,” the West Coast IPA is “Hey Bruh?” while the sour farmhouse is “Get Funked.” Try them in the industrial-rustic taproom looked over by a wall-mounted stainless steel monkey skull. Why the monkey? One of the founders encountered a small monkey in Spain who stole his bag and smashed his stuff with the sneakiness of a ghost. Cheers to thieving monkeys.
The first brewery to operate on James Island turns a warehouse behind a gas station into a beer cave. The brewmaster taught himself the craft and there’s a DIY feel to the taproom, with keg tap handles shaped like wrenches, shovels and other tools, in a space that often throws beer and food events with local restaurants. Don’t come looking for innovation here, it’s about the typical American ales, so go elsewhere for your juniper-rosemary IPAs.
This quirky North Charleston brewery and taproom doles out unique brews (they've got cucumber thyme and jalapeno beer on tap) in mustachioed mugs and pitchers. Owned and operated by a trio of childhood friends, a spirit of inclusivity and playful fun is apparent once you step inside the ramshackle wood-paneled taproom. Stop in and sample a variety of brews while you enjoy a local comedy night.
This organic brewhouse in picturesque North Charleston is certainly a sight to see (and taste). Located riverside off the banks of the Ashley, Freehouse's grassy, herbaceous brews are a perfect fit for their natural setting. Ales are farmhouse/Belgian inspired, with plenty of hops and citrus overtones. Local food trucks regularly stop by this joint, so sit back, relax, and feel free to hang out with a cold one.
The art of brewing is done with a funky touch at Downtown’s Lo-Fi Brewing Company, where dance parties and live bluegrass concerts are held in a 10,000-square-foot industrial space that was a car dealership before it was a liquor store. The 20-barrel facility emphasizes lager production, and drinkers can expect a Mexican variety as well as a blueberry wheat beer, all branded with the unicorn logo.
This isn't your garage-style brewery taproom: Lagunitas, one of the fastest growing breweries of recent decades, is a major beer player and their decked-out taproom is proof. It has a cool-kid clubhouse feel, with comfy sofas and purple walls in a multi-floor bar and event space where guests sip the brand's standard brews in addition to exlusive-to-Charleston varieties.