There was a time when my alcoholic beverage of choice came in only a cocktail glass. But times have changed, and Charleston was the catalyst. As the beer boom came to Charleston, I started sipping and sampling more and more in the name of “research." And these days, I can tell you what style of beer are my favorites and why.
But picking favorite breweries? That’s a lot harder. Breweries are still opening by the minute here. So it’s time to take a stand (at least for now) and stake my claim that these taproom tastes are my current favorites. Taste is subjective, but here’s a good start for the best breweries Charleston has to offer.
10 Conroy Street
I remember when this place felt on the edge of nowhere, and now, just a few short years later, it is in the middle of a bustling food and beverage district. This has always been a destination for me when it comes to beer, because from the beginning, Revelry was doing inventive, delicious beers that won awards, but more importantly, brewing beers that kept many of us coming back to see what they would brew next, from cream ales to a current Ginger & Jasmine brewed with sake yeast.
The bar downstairs has an old piano, and the rooftop bar upstairs always has a good breeze and a view not documented in guidebooks but with spectacular sunsets nonetheless. Although they do serve food, I usually skip it in favor of one of the other outstanding spots close by, so this is a perfect place to end the day, or start the evening.
Edmund's Oast Brewing Company
1505 King Street Ext., Pacific Box & Crate complex
If you have a hard time figuring out how to order food, start a tab here, then just know you’re not alone and power through. The 20,000-square-foot brewery sibling of the popular Charleston restaurant, Edmund’s Oast, is a truly great place to spend an afternoon or evening. For starters, they have some of the best smoked wings in town (yep, you read that right), and secondly, Short Grain does a weekly Tuesday pop up here, another win in the food column.
As for sipping, a good bet to begin with is the Lord Proprietor’s Mild, not sour at all but a low ABV started beer clocking 3.7 percent, brewed with Charleston black tea.
809 Savannah Highway
Once the garage doors are rolled up here to expose the tasting room to the street, it only take a few minutes for patrons to begin to fill the picnic tables in the room and the stools at the bar. Avondale’s Charlestowne Fermentory has quickly became a gathering place for the neighborhood because of its relaxed vibe and variety of beers available in different size pours. Although the on-tap list varies considerably, Ralf, a zwickelbier (a German-style unfiltered and unpasteurized lager) is almost always available, crisp and refreshing, but with each new release, the brewery seems to get better and more daring with their recipe prowess. They are home to lots of restaurant pop-ups too, so it’s easy to make a night of it.
Munkle Brewing Company
1513 Meeting Street Road
Munkle brews Belgian style (which pairs well with Charleston heat), has a taproom where you can sit comfortably or rock on rocking chairs outside, and a great back story about an uncle who was a beer-making monk and inspired the whole thing.
510 Ridge Road, Mount Pleasant
Westbrook is one of the biggest beer players in town. From experimental casking to cans of White Thai, this brewery seems to do it all, including creating a cult following for its various Mexican Cake bottle releases and an American trend with their Gose introduction into the stateside market.
2038 Meeting Street
Prepare for a laid back, warehouse experience up close to the brewing process. Owner/brewer Jason Caughman’s ability to deftly balance flavor in his tight selection of beer means that you’re likely to see his taps outside of the brewery at some of the best bars in town.
Coast Brewing Company
250 North 2nd St., North Charleston
A fixture and leader in the South Carolina brewing scene since its creation in 2007, Coast focuses on local and organic ingredients to make its beer. One of the first businesses to really take hold in the Old Navy Yard, everybody loves them for their Hop Art, but I love them for their Kolsch.
Holy City Brewing
4155 C Dorchester Road
They’re moving soon, but for now visit at this location for a vision of beer experimentation with more than a dozen on tap at any one time. If they have Washout Wheat or Pluff Mud Porter, start with those.
Frothy Beard Brewing Co.
1401 Sam Rittenberg Blvd.
Frothy Beard has a locals-hangout feel, and varieties such as the It’s Cucumber Thyme! Wheat make it easy to understand why the crowds come out to a spot revitalizing a strip mall that had seen better days.
1647 King Street Extension
Focused on making “good, solid beer for good, solid people,” Tradesman leveled up recently with much bigger brewing capacity than their former James Island digs. What hasn’t changed, though, is the good beer, and the good people.