Are You Looking For The Top Microbreweries In South Carolina? Well, Then This Is For You! We Put Together Our List Of Favorites Right Here In The Palmetto State.
After some months, countless tastes and thousands of miles, I think I can confidently proclaim that it is near impossible to drink a bad beer at a South Carolina microbrewery. The number of microbreweries doing incredible things with hops, malt, yeast and water is startling.
The limitless world of beer means a dizzying number of drinking options when visiting South Carolina microbreweries. From classic lagers, to bold IPA’s, to funky sour ales, each type of beer generates more sub-categories. Knowing what certain styles of beer taste and look like can make narrowing down selections a lot easier.
Check Out Our Article On The History of Microbreweries in South Carolina
Readers probably come to this article with different craft beer experience, from veterans to novices, but after crisscrossing the state I can assure you that you might find your head spinning at the options offered! The list of beer varieties grows everyday so I am going to briefly explain the main styles and then navigate through the state with my current favorite microbreweries.
“The limitless world of beer means a dizzying number of drinking options when visiting South Carolina microbreweries.”
What Are Different Types of Beer?
Beers start out as either an Ale or Lager and their specific styles and flavors continue to evolve from there. Under the broad category of ales, there are numerous types including: pale ales, Indian Pale Ale (or IPA), Porters, Stouts, Belgian style and wheat.
Lagers encompass a range of styles including: Pale Pilsner, German style Hellas and Dark American Lagers. Without going into great detail, the major difference between types of beer comes down to the types of yeast used in the fermentation process.
Pale Ale – The Pale Ale is more or less responsible for inspiring the entire craft movement. American Pale Ales range from golden to deep amber in color with a moderate hop flavor, medium-bodied and easy to drink.
IPA – Hops are still the foundation of the American craft brewery and the IPA style is its flagship. The style was originally created to transport beer from England to India so additional hops were introduced as a preservative. These beers can have some bitterness and usually have a high alcohol content.
Three styles of IPA’s have evolved in America. The New England IPA is fruity with a low bitterness. The British IPA is maltier and more bitter and the West Coast IPA is the middle-of-the-road with respect to both fruitiness and bitterness.
Stouts – The darkest of beers. All Stouts are made with deeply roasted malt resulting in a dark brown to jet black color. American Stouts are highly roasted, bitter and hoppy with high malt coffee flavors.
Porters – The line between Stouts and Porters has become blurred and many beer enthusiasts use the terms interchangeably. Most Porters have chocolate as an ingredient and thus are different from the coffee flavors of Stout as they instead have a chocolatey taste and feel.
“For this article, my selections are based on the quality of the beer.”
Belgian Style – A wide variety of styles from fruity to spicy to sweet with a high alcohol content and low bitterness.
Wheat Beers – As the name implies, wheat beers rely on wheat (not barley) for the malt ingredients. American wheat beers are very hoppy with funky, tangy tastes.
Sour Beers – Taste as they sound. Highly tart. The addition of fruit such as cherry, raspberry, blueberry and peach marry sweet to sour. These refreshing sours are rising in popularity to cool you down on a hot day.
American Lager – Most are made with ingredients (other than malted barley) such as corn, rice and oats. Usually mass-produced, though microbreweries make some flavorful Pilsners (a subcategory of Lagers), tasty German Style Lagers and Amber Lagers.
Micro Brews, Specialty Beer and Craft Beer
Despite the above ‘guide’ it is worth noting that many microbreweries craft beer outside of any standard style and thus it’s impossible to fully represent the spectrum of beers being created today. Due to constant experimentation and exploration, many breweries are making new beer styles that don’t fit neatly into one specific category….and, boy, are we glad!
So be prepared to encounter Specialty Beers. This is an umbrella term covering almost all types of craft beer made today that do not fit clearly into already established categories. Market forces will probably pare down some of the different kinds of beer that now defy categorization, but for now, I commend the innovation and inventiveness and in the future look forward to entirely new categories.
“Due to constant experimentation and exploration, many breweries are making new beer styles that don’t fit neatly into one specific category….and, boy, are we glad!”
Our List of Favorites Microbreweries
Now it’s time to introduce you to some places where you can taste flavorful effervescent beer. My recommendations are based on the breweries that I feel are doing the best work at the present time.
For this article, my selections are based on the quality of the beer. I recognize that food and ambiance can be important and I will include some notes to that effect but the emphasis is squarely on the beer….right where you want it!
In making my recommendations I look at things like the quality of the core lineup at a brewery, the number of exceptional beers, new products and creativity. Consensus can be a funny thing. You could probably ask ten people what their favorite microbreweries in South Carolina are and get ten different lists because, in the end, all lists are subjective.
That being said, I have traveled far and wide and tasted many microbrewery offerings and these are my recommendations for SC microbreweries that you don’t want to miss.
Note: An ABV after each beer indicates alcohol by volume. 6% and below is light. 6% to 7/7.5% is moderate. Anything above that is high. Also this list is unranked and in no particular order. It is not a list of the most popular, but a list of the best (in my opinion) at this time….and I did get around!
One of the pioneers of the microbrewery business in South Carolina, it has remained on the cutting edge of creative beer while maintaining high production standards.
What we like – The depth of interesting, tasty beer creations at Westbrook Brewing is staggering.
Three Claw – A hazy, New England Style, double IPA with a juicy flavor ABV 8%
White Thai – A twist on Belgian style wheat beer by using lemongrass and ginger root. Refreshing ale with citrus and spice ABV 5%.
Mexican Cake – A serious, imperial stout released annually in May aged on cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks and fresh habanero peppers ABV 10,5%
Don’t Miss – Westbrook Gose – A traditional, German style, sour wheat beer brewed with a different twist of coriander and sea salt. Once nearly extinct, but this sour, salty beer is on a comeback ABV 4% This is also the first sour I ever tasted and have been hooked ever since!
Last Call – Limited hours, call ahead. Family friendly (pets must remain on the patio outside) Event schedule. Food trucks at times.
Westbrook Brewing Company
510 Ridge Road
Mt Pleasant, SC
New South Brewing Company
A small microbrewery since 1998 brewing handcrafted, hand-canned, hands-on beer.
What we like – New South has some of the most affordable craft beers in South Carolina. They are low key and unpretentious and have informative tours.
White Ale – A wheat beer with orange peel and coriander. The Grand Strands best selling craft beer ABV 4.6%
Java the Nut – A dark brown ale aged on a rich blend of Peruvian and El Salvadorian coffee beans roasted locally ABV 4.8%
Braubeater – A diversity of Vienna malt, German Hops and Bavarian yeast come together in a very drinkable lager ABV 4.5%
Don’t Miss – Big Wooly Mammoth – An Imperial Double Stout as dark as a tar pit. Glad I wasn’t around when this beast was roaming with it’s 10.77% ABV
Last Call – Off the beaten path. Closes early so call ahead. Food trucks – inquire when Grill of Your Dreams will be there for the best in homemade sausage, smoked pork and brisket. Facilities ramshackle….in a good and funky way!
New South Brewing
1109 Campbell St.
Myrtle Beach, SC
Family owned, craft brewery on an old Navy base. The owners were pioneers and a major force in changing South Carolina’s restrictive brewery laws and helped birth the South Carolina Brewers Guild.
What we like – COAST has a warehouse feel and a casual vibe. All their ingredients are listed, including those that are organic.
Rye Knot – Full bodied dark brown ale. Certified organic. A fall seasonal beer ABV 6.2%
Blackbeerd – An imperial dark stout with an assertive hops taste. A blast of flavor with with a 9.3% ABV
Hopart – A sweet malt with an assertive hop flavor. Uses certified organic malt ABV 7.7%
Don’t Miss – Boy King – Highly hopped yet balanced double IPA. Lots of tropical goodness ABV 9.7%
Last Call – This is a functioning brewery with no separate taproom….so when it’s hot outside, it is hot inside. Family friendly but no dogs. Call ahead as the hours for sales and tastings are limited. No food, but check the calendar as they have events with Big Boned BBQ – you will not be disappointed! Plentiful parking. Large distribution.
COAST Brewing Company
1250 N. 2nd St.
North Charleston, SC
Low Tide Brewing
Innovative microbrewery embracing the natural beauty of the Low Country and creating beers in that spirit that incorporate quality ingredients which set it apart.
What we like – Low Tide has a laid back, chill atmosphere….as calm as waves lapping on the shore.
Aloha Beaches – A wheat beer using pineapple notes to create a smooth and refreshing drink ABV 5%
Low Country “No” Boil Pale Ale – New England style IPA with big fruit flavors and a smooth mouthful ABV 7.7%
Tide Chaser IPA – A citrusy yet resinous IPA with very pleasant aroma and flavors. Perfect for a hot summer day ABV 7%
Don’t miss – Late Night Companion – A perfect nightcap, stout with cherry vanilla and lactose additions creating a dessert quality. A lower ABV of 4.9% makes it an approachable late-night drink
Last Call – Plentiful parking and drinking space. Dog friendly. Knowledgeable staff. Food trucks all the time (but sometimes they’re hit or miss as to quality.) Bingo nights.
Low Tide Brewing
2863 Maybank Highway
Johns Island, SC
Holy City Brewing
A microbrewery producing crafted quality beer since 2011 emerging from a small brewery in a garage into one of the best in the state.
What We Like – Holy City is constantly innovating and seeks to honor the Style and Living of the Lowcountry….which is just what we’re looking for!
Pluff Mud Porter – Name derived from the mixture of dirt and water common to the marshes of the South Carolina Lowcountry. A classic porter, with a subtle chocolate taste and silky finish but also adapted to the Lowcountry heat with lower ABV so as to be drinkable all year ABV 5.5%
Overly Friendly IPA – Named for how nice people are in the Lowcountry. A happy beer that is crisp and very drinkable with a blend of citrus ABV 6.9% * Adding cilantro, jalapeno and pineapple makes it a Muy Amigo IPA *
Bowers Island Oyster Stout – European brewers started putting oysters into beer in the early 20th century and the tradition continues at Holy City. Two bushels of succulent local oysters to every 15 barrels of beer make it a drinking experience to remember
Don’t miss – Yeast Wrangler – An imperial IPA with some serious yeast “wrangling”. A heady serious beer. ABV 10%
Last Call – New spacious digs (service needs to settle in.) Full restaurant. Beautiful views of Noisette Creek. Oyster Roasts. Live music Fridays. Sunday brunch.
Holy City Brewing
1021 Anagon Ave.
North Charleston, SC
River Rat Brewery
A microbrewery using the best ingredients to develop complex flavors and perfectly balanced, bold, drinkable beer.
What We Like – River Rat has a great rooftop deck to watch planes land and take off at historic Owens Airport. We also admire their use of local ingredients from sustainable farms.
Lost Port Porter – A vanilla infused, black porter ABV 6%
Twisted Lemon Wheat Ale – A wheat beer brewed with lemon peel to provide a crisp, refreshing drink, especially for the hottest days ABV 5.2%
Hazelnut Brown Ale – A traditional, mild, brown ale brewed with English hops and fresh Hazelnuts ABV 5.4%
Don’t Miss – Double IPA – A robust pale ale with an assertive hop flavor. Spicy and floral to create a unique taste APV 8.5%
Last Call – Near Gamecock Stadium. Dog friendly with turf area. Full-scale, bistro-style restaurant. Wine menu.
River Rat Brewery
1231 Shop Rd.
Locally owned and operated. Beer brewed in small batches on a small working farm. Cows, chickens, quiet and beer.
What we like – Three springs provide pure, wellwater. The key to a quality craft beer is great tasting pure water and Benford has it! Beers plentiful for retail purchase throughout South Carolina and North Carolina.
Forte Legato Coffee Porter – Traditional, porter base including Crystal, Brown and Chocolate Malts. Coffee from Cameroon, Africa added to the mash ABV 5.7%
Carolina Blackout – Black as a total eclipse. An IPA with a roasted profile from midnight wheat. Perfect for South Carolina “Blackout” games ABV 6.5%
Irish Honey Ale – Traditional, pale ale with deep golden appearance. Honey malt, oats and local, farm-produced honey ABV 5.1%
Don’t Miss – The Problem Solver – Clean, copper color, taste of citrus followed by caramel. With an ABV of 11.5% ….you are on your own.
Last Call – This is a working facility, so retail purchasing hours are limited, please call ahead. Does not offer food but you can bring your own. Check the calendar for special events
2271 Boxcar Rd
Swamp Rabbit Brewery and Taproom
Passionate owners producing quality craft beer on the main drag in Travelers Rest.
What we like – The owners and staff of Swamp Rabbit are fantastic at educating consumers about craft beer.
White Ale – Belgian style blend of European and Midwestern barley, white wheat and oats, spiced with coriander and orange peel ABV 5.5%
IPA – Beautifully balanced, hoppily, drinkable with a full flavor. ABV 7.5%
Cream Ale – A light beer made with 20% corn and 80% malted barley. A refreshing and easy, drinking ale ABV 5.2%
Don’t miss – Winter Ale – A winter beer brewed with cinnamon, coriander, orange peel and a redhot jawbreaker candy ABV 8.5%
Last Call – No food but plenty of good places in town. Always a food truck. (Insider tip – call ahead to see when Woodside Bistro will be there with a traditional Low Country Boil or Cousins Maine Lobster for delicious lobster rolls) Pet friendly. Live entertainment. Small parking lot. Offsite parking but observe signs. Wine/Cider available.
Swamp Rabbit Brewery and Taproom
26 S. Main St.
Travelers Rest, SC
Birds Fly South Ale Project
Self described as a progressively old school urban farmhouse brewery. This microbrewery produces complex, thought provoking, delicious beer.
What we Like – Birds Fly South is committed to high quality standards, yet isn’t afraid to experiment and get out of their comfort zone. We admire their collaboration with other microbreweries to “improve the breed.”
False Face – An American wild ale that looks like a stout but tastes like a sour. Intriguing drink, aged in bourbon barrels. Fruity with cherries. High tartness ABV 5.8%
Rustic Sunday – Creative twist on a traditional Belgian Saison. Sour with a touch of rye. Well-balanced. Easily drinkable with dried pineapple and white grape notes ABV 7%
Paper Airplanes – A well-crafted, farmhouse brew. Tart with a light fruitiness of white grape and lemon. Nice and well balanced ABV 6%
Don’t Miss – 1320 Hampton Ave DIPA – A West Coast style double IPA. Aggressively hopped but very drinkable. Carries a nice punch ABV 9.3%
Last Call – 2 bars, outdoor patio, Biergarten, large lawn, live music. GB and D food truck (Golden Brown and Delicious) most days, far famous ramen, burgers and doughnuts. White Duc Taco next door (will deliver to the brewery).
Birds Flying South Ale Project
1320 Hampton Ave
(864) 412 8825
Southern Barrel Brewing Co.
A microbrewery combining a state of the art brewing facility with a large tavern and outdoor beer garden.
What We Like – Southern Barrel Brewing maintains their commitment to interesting, flavorful beer while also creating a dining destination.
Frozen Barrel Milk Stout – An imperial stout with a strong rich flavor. Dark in color with tastes of chocolate and vanilla. Some woody effects from barrel aging ABV 8.8%
Damn Yankee IPA – A New England style IPA. Fruity with citrus and notes of caramel ABV 7%
Helles Lager – A nice, German style lager. Crisp and clean with a malt flavor. Proves that simplicity can sometimes be underrated ABV 5.2%
Do Not Miss – Slippery Slope Double IPA – A straightforward, classic, West Coast double, IPA. Tasty complexity with a strong hop presence ABV 8%
Last Call – Full scale restaurant. Indoor, outdoor seating. Live music. Bingo, yoga, Trivia
Southern Barrel Brewing Co.
375 Buckwalter Parkway
Carolina Bauernhaus Brewery and Winery
A hybrid farmhouse brewery creating handcrafted ales, meads and ciders utilizing the rich agricultural resources of upstate South Carolina.
What We Like – Carolina Bauerenhaus is an innovative brewery collaborating with other breweries in the state to produce a distinct local product.
Fuzzy is a Four Letter Word – A New England style IPA in collaboration with Hazelwood Brewing with loads of fresh local kiwi ABV 6.5%
Old Newark – An IPA with some history. Ballantine Ale, a long time sponsor of the Yankees in the 1950’s, created an ale considered the predecessor to the American IPA. Growing up in the north, and being of a certain age, you might think of the old time Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen saying “Baseball and Ballantine.” This beer uses Carolina malt, local corn and English and American hops ABV 6.2%
Nacht – Belgian inspired imperial stout fermented in local whiskey barrels. Dark, rich and creamy with a hefty 10.2% ABV
Don’t Miss – Keowee – a truly local, sour, aged ale, aged with loads of locally foraged mulberries. Beer Advocates pick for best microbrew in South Carolina in 2019 ABV 7.2%
Last Call – Quaint taproom with aged barrels. Live Music. Book club. Charcuterie Sunday with cured meats, specialty cheeses, locally grown produce, jams, and pickles. BBQ Thursdays. Farm Market Mondays. Currently in the process of building a taproom in Greenville.
Carolina Bauernhaus Brewing Winery
115 Federal St.
Whether you are a long time resident, a newcomer to the state, or a visitor passing through, you’re always just a stone’s throw away from some quality craft beer and satisfaction is always on tap.
We hope you decide to give some of these South Carolina microbreweries a try….well, let’s be honest, how much can you really learn from just one try??? With such varied selections, each one deserves some dedicated time to savor both the beer and the experience! We guarantee you’ll enjoy it!