4 guys dream up Holy City Brewing

Mac Minaudo (from left), Chris Brown, Joel Carl and Sean Nemitz hoist their glasses in front of their 15-gallon microbrewery in a warehouse in North Charleston on Wednesday. Their new business, Holy City Brewing, hopes to brew its first batch for distribu

A new microbrewery will soon tap into the Charleston market.

Four Lowcountry men have come together to form Holy City Brewing, and they hope to start distributing the craft beer from a North Charleston warehouse by May.

Mac Minaudo, Joel Carl, Sean Nemitz and Chris Brown each brings different backgrounds to the venture.

Minaudo wanted to expand his Asheville, N.C.-based biodiesel business to the area, so he rented a building off Dorchester Road in November 2009. He grew up with Charleston resident Carl, who runs a rickshaw business with Nemitz in downtown Charleston.

Brown, a former brewer with a restaurant group in Atlanta, met Carl, and about 15 months ago the four started brewing beer for themselves at the rickshaw shop.

They thought it would be a good idea to expand the small brewing system and put it in the same 3,800-square-foot warehouse with the planned biodiesel facility. They quickly realized they would need more space so they scuttled the biofuel idea when a federal tax credit expired, Minaudo said.

For the past year, they have been trying to get funding and recently received an $85,000 loan to buy a 15-barrel stainless steel brew system. They also are pumping in some of their own money for the $250,000 project.

The 15-barrel system is being made in Canada, and the fermentation tanks will arrive from Hungary in mid-March.

They are brewing test batches on their current 15-gallon system and plan to offer a pilsner and porter and different seasonal offerings once the larger brewery turns on the tap.

Minaudo said they chose the site in North Charleston because the price was right for a long-term venture. The site also includes a large outdoor covered area where tastings can be offered.

The men say Charleston has so many microbreweries because it's a great place to live with lots of restaurants.

"It's a food city, and the brewery is the next step," Minaudo said.

"Craft beer has taken off in the city," Brown said.

The new microbrewery joins Palmetto, Coast and Westbrook in the Charleston area.

They won't be up and running for the Brewvival on Feb. 26 at Coast Brewing Co. in North Charleston, but they plan to attend the event.

"We wouldn't miss it," Minaudo said.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524.