Celebrating suds Charleston Beer Week off to frothy start ‘Pint bill’

The crowd overflowed onto the front porch Tuesday at Closed for Business as Steve McCauley (left), a brewer at the Frothy Beard Brewing Co., enjoyed a brew at an event for the first-ever Charleston Beer Week.

It was an unprecedented feat at the popular King Street bar Closed for Business: Every brew on tap was made in the Palmetto State.

Forty-two taps poured frothy goodness from 10 breweries around the state — from Columbia, Greenville, Spartanburg and the Lowcountry.

“This is exciting for us,” said Andrew Maulding, a manager at Closed for Business. “Before, the problem was that there wasn't enough beer from South Carolina to fill all the taps.”

The bar hosted the event as part of Charleston Beer Week, which featured more than 30 events dedicated to craft beer. Four to five beers from each brewery were featured, including some the bar had never served before.

“It was impressive to see it all on the menu,” said Jen Wassum, 32, a Johns Island resident who ordered a pint each for her and her husband Andy, 34, Tuesday night.

The self-proclaimed craft beer fans saw the South Carolina Beer Night advertised on Facebook. It was part of the weeklong series of beer-infused occasions, which included a kick ball tournament, beer and food pairing dinners and even a tasting and talk with the president of the U.S. Brewers' Association, Charlie Papazian.

“For those of us who have been into craft beer for a few years, we remember a time when seeing a great selection of beers made in South Carolina was not such an easy thing, much less 40-plus beers. We've come a very, very long way, and that Closed for Business event confirmed that beyond any shadow of a doubt,” said Timmons Pettigrew, co-founder of the website CHSBeer.org and author of the book “Charleston Beer: A High-Gravity History of Lowcountry Brewing.”

He helped organize the event with several others, including Denise Boozer, with Lee Distributing, who said the turnout was great, with several events selling out.

Organizers are expecting good turnouts for tonight's Harbor Cruise event and their grand finale, a beer crawl Saturday in downtown Charleston.

“We know that the demand for craft beer and for events is there, so really we knew people would be excited about them,” Boozer said.

Microbreweries became popular in South Carolina in the early 1990s. Palmetto Brewing Co. reopened in Charleston in 1993 after it closed during Prohibition; it was the first brewery in South Carolina to have a license since Prohibition.

Then the Lowcountry area saw Coast Brewing, Holy City Brewing and Westbrook Brewing. That list is growing by the year with the increasing popularity of craft beer and changing state laws, making it more enticing for brewers to set up shop in the Palmetto State.

Bars such as Closed for Business, which opened at the growth of the microbrewery movement in the state, are welcoming the homegrown brews with open arms, serving at least one local bar on draft every day, Maulding said. “As craft beer has gotten more popular, business is great,” he said.

Charleston Beer Week's success is a testament to the over-flowing popularity of craft beer, Pettigrew said. “People are coming out and gathering together over beer. Our mission to celebrate Charleston beer culture, and ultimately that's about a community of people. So to see that passion and that connection over our common denominator of beer is a great thing,” he said.

Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.