There is something whimsical in the air. The weather may be hot, cold or have just enough warmth to justify a brisk run along the beach. It doesn’t matter, Charleston has an aura about it that many find so contagious that they never leave. Tennesseans will find Charleston but a mere 6 hours and change from Knoxville and not that much further from Chattanooga. It offers not only historical aspects but beaches, golf, seafood, culture – there is something here for everyone. As one of America’s oldest cities, founded originally in 1670, the roots of history sink deep. The generations before us have made their mark as evidenced by the battery’s beauty at the city’s most southeast point, Fort Sumter’s historical first shots of the Civil War, beautiful antebellum homes, the CSS Hunley, USS Yorktown, culinary masterpieces such as The Grocery and Husk and now, craft beer.

Charleston has found a way to so beautifully intertwine food and beer through its renowned chefs and incredibly talented brewers. It’s hard to enter any dining establishment and find not only craft beer but local craft beer on draft. There is a keen sense of community and support of local businesses from the farm to table and back. Go. Go hungry. Expect to move your belt a notch before you leave. Drink Charleston in both in what she has to offer your body in nourishment but also what she will offer your soul in rich history and class.
While there are many incredible places to visit on your journey, these are a few of the must stops:

Holy City Brewing Company: You can find Holy City in North Charleston behind a Honda motorcycle dealership. What began as a small homebrew operation in the back of the Charleston Rick Shaw Company grew into one of Charleston’s most well-known brands. Each beer pays homage to the area in some way, shape or form with names like Pluff Mud Porter, Washout Wheat and Slanted Porch Pale Ale. Holy City is very much tied to the community and can often be found supporting charitable events in the area. Check out their website for tap room hours and go hungry as they now have food onsite.
Coast Brewing Company: If you find yourself in North Charleston on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday afternoon, be sure to stop by Coast Brewing Company. While Coast may perhaps be best known for their herculean leadership in the Pop the Cap SC efforts, the art exhibited in their beer will not be forgotten. The 32°/50° Kolsch is a must and it, as well as the Hop Art Pale Ale, can be readily found about town. While you never know what they may have on tap, they are known to play and if you’re lucky, you might find their Boy King DIPA or a barrel aged Blackbeerd on tap.

Westbrook Brewing: Westbrook is one of the most recognizable names in regards to Charleston craft beer as they continue to expand their distribution footprint in the south. White Thai, IPA, One Claw and Gose can be readily found in cans and are each memorable in their own way. The tap room and brewery is perhaps the most modern looking in the area and it’s growing with a new addition. Be sure to check out what else they have on their draft list and go on a tour – if for no other reason than to see what they might have barrel aging in the back!

Palmetto Brewing Company: Charleston’s oldest brewery continues to make great beer and, like their peers, they continue to add to their portfolio with awesome additions. In this author’s mind the espresso porter is one of their best and may very well be one of the best coffee porters in existence. Palmetto can be found in the northern part of downtown. The brewery can be easily missed if you don’t keep an eye out for the tell-tale Palmetto trees in front of a white façade. Palmetto often has live music so be sure to check out their Facebook page for updates.

Edmund’s Oast: If you do nothing else in Charleston, go here. You will find a small nano brewery onsite with an excellent selection plus an extensive tap list of specially selected beers from across the globe. Their bottle list should also be examined as you never know what they may have on hand. However, while the beer is incredible the food may very well outshine the taps. Homemade ricotta and some of the most perfect lamb meatballs in existence are just two of the offerings on the menu. While the menu does rotate, the charcuterie program is exceptionally well done and worth your attention. Go early, stay late, thank me later.

Freehouse Brewery : Freehouse can be found just a short drive southeast from Holy City. While you may think you are venturing into an industrial area, you’ll be pleased to find Freehouse on the backside of a building overlooking an incredibly picture-esq marshland area. Be sure to try their saison and ask the bartender about their use of organic ingredients.

House of Brews: This is one of my favorite beer shops. You’ll find it in Mount Pleasant just before the bridge going to Sullivan’s Island. It is what it sounds like, a house, and if you aren’t careful, you’ll miss it. There’s always a good draft selection and a very cool bier garden in the back. However, the best part is hunting for beer in the dimly lit converted bedrooms. You never know what treasure you might find. You’ll also encounter a knowledgeable staff who can bring you up to speed on all things Charleston beer while you enjoy a pint or two.

Charleston Beer Exchange: Another must stop bottle shop, housed right downtown near the old exchange you will find the most efficient use of space packed from floor to ceiling with an incredible collection of beer. The old wood floors will creak as you peruse their impressive selection. Be sure to check out their Facebook page and website for limited and rare releases.

Brewvival: Brewvival is an annual festival held towards the end of February. Brewvival has been known to have an incredible beer lineup from local, regional and national breweries. This event is a joint venture between Coast Brewing and Edmund’s Oast, both of which are top notch spots with people who know beer very well. This event should be on your list.
Recently Lagunitas Brewing Company announced that they entered a contract with Southend Brewery and Smokehouse on East Bay Street in beautiful downtown Charleston to convert the brewpub into a Lagunitas Taproom and Beer Sanctuary. Be sure to keep an eye out for an announcement regarding their grand opening.

Charleston. Rich in history, containing a depth of culinary opportunities and flowing with artfully inspired, quality craft beer. What’s not to love?


Written by Rob Shomaker