It’s no secret that we love to travel and explore our beloved Palmetto State and combine that wanderlust with our love affair of a good drink!
Today we are listing out the absolute best Beer Gardens you can find in South Carolina. From the Upstate to the Lowcountry, we have visited them all and are here to report back on what we found.
At Lowcountry Style & Living we searched for the best beer gardens in South Carolina that featured draft and bottled beer, served up craft and German brews, offered burgers and brats, and, most importantly, had the greatest outdoor spaces.
Read on to see who made our top picks!
The Best Beer Gardens In SC (Ranked)
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1. Nectar Farm Kitchen
A singular experience. Laid back, friendly yet professional vibe. Beautiful garden setting in Old Town Bluffton. A more refined version than the other beer gardens on our list. That’s a big plus, as some spots veer a little too close to “anything goes.”
Hands down the best food on our list. At Nectar Farm Kitchen the food is not an afterthought but a driving force in creating a sublime experience. Serious farm-to-table offerings that are accessible and not fussy. Brewery is upstairs and the offerings include unique Nectar brews, other local brews, customer favorites, and plenty of other bar drinks for those who aren’t interested in beer.
Looking for friendliness, warmth, and good cheer? Then Nectar Farm Kitchen is for you. It easily tops our list of best beer gardens in South Carolina.
What We Drank:
German Blonde Ale
New England Pale Ale
Nectar Farm Kitchen Old Town
207 Bluffton Road
Bluffton, SC 29910
2. Weco Bottle and Biergarten
Neighborhood and family friendly. Super chill atmosphere. Spacious outdoor space. As a beer garden, Weco dots all the i’s and crosses all the t’s. They stock many German Kolschs and Pilsners.
No food is served, but there are food trucks everyday. Check their website for scheduling. If you see Wurst Wagon or Cousins Maine Lobster, you will be in for a special treat.
What We Drank:
Weco Bottle and Biergarten
266 Meeting Street
Columbia, SC 29169
3. Farm Haus Butcher & Beer Garden
A traditional German “Biergarten.” Family oriented, pet friendly. All draft beers are local to North & South Carolina. An array of housemade sausages (the Irish Banger is a keeper) and the poutine fries are memorable.
Great beer, food and an outstanding space is why we ranked Farm Haus the third best beer garden in SC.
What We Drank:
Lazy Bird Brown Ale
Great Musa Wheat Beer
Farm Haus Butcher & Beer Garden
9762 Charlotte Highway
Indian Land, SC 29707
Worth a Drive
4. Lazy Creek Taphouse
Family and pet-friendly. Huge grassy area for your kids to frolic. Plenty of games. 12 beers on tap. Huge canned selection. Great prices. Food trucks every night, check their website for the schedule. Los Chicanos Mexican fare is on-point. Parking can be a little difficult at times, but owners work hard to help with that.
We just loved the laid-back atmosphere and friendly, hard-working staff.
What We Drank:
Bitchin Betty Brown Ale
The Right Stuff (Stout)
Lazy Creek Taphouse
306 St Peters Church Rd
Chapin, SC 29031
5. Bohemian Bull
Can’t always judge a book by its cover. Located in a strip mall yet has a quintessential beer garden out back. Loads of outdoor games, kid friendly, live music. Do not sleep on the Flounder Po-boy. The Bohemian is a beer garden in the truest sense: Gemutlichkeit reigns.
We just loved the laid back atmosphere and friendly, hard-working staff.
What We Drank:
Wild Bramble Sour
Wolf Dog Wilt beer
1531 Folly Road
Charleston, SC 29412
6. The Irish Pub
As they say on their website, “The Little Pub with the Big Backside.” From the front: an unpretentious small looking pub. From the back: a WOW beer garden. By “wow” we mean two volleyball courts, fire pits, grill areas, outdoor bar, live music, dancing, corn hole, darts, and more. European vibe with solid pub food (give the Shepherd’s Pie a try).
Almost made “The Best” list, but sometimes a clubby atmosphere prevails and then it becomes a little rough around the edges. When it’s clicking, it’s all you want in a beer garden. Proof that not all beef gardens need to be German.
What We Drank:
The Irish Pub
214 North Pleasantburg Drive
Greenville, SC 29607
7. Legal Remedy Brewing
Legal Remedy can leave you scratching your head. They have all the ingredients for a great beer garden experience, and most of the time they hit the right notes, but they can be a little erratic in food and service.
Food, for the most part, is top notch (don’t miss the smoked meats). The beer selections are well thought out. The space is expansive and appealing (solar panels dot the landscape). Live music, pet friendly.
Surely worth a drive and even an off night can be a good night at this friendly place.
What We Drank:
All Rise Session Pale Ale
Guilty Party Blackberry Gose
WorldCourt Mocha Blonde Stout
Legal Remedy Brewing
129 Oakland Drive
Rock Hill, SC 29730
If You’re In the Neighborhood
8. Rotties 221 Biergarten
Hard-working staff. Hands-on owner. Very relaxed atmosphere. Family, pet friendly. Outdoor stage. Live Music. 24 beers on tap. Limited menu (thumbs up to the corn fritters) but well prepared .
May not be a destination spot, but if you’re in the area don’t pass it by.
What We Drank:
Voodoo Ranger IPA
Aloha Beaches Wheat Beer
Rotties 221 Biergarten
228S Main Street
Woodruff, SC 29388
9. Hans & Franz Biergarten
“Southern hospitality with German flair lodged in an old historic mill.” Traditional biergarten atmosphere. Close your eyes and you could be in Munich. Outdoor Bar, Music. Great German menu selection, but the kitchen doesn’t always deliver.
With some tweaks this could easily be a “worth the trip” spot. All the right beer garden components are in place so it’s a little puzzling why they don’t up their game. A little more warmth and good cheer would go a long way. That said, the next time we are in Greenville we will stop by.
Hans & Franz Biergarten
3124 South Highway 14
Greenville, SC 29615
On the Cusp
Here are two spots that came close to making our list of the Best Beer Gardens in South Carolina. Hopefully, the next time we are out and about we will be able to include them. If you are in the area they are worth checking out.
Our Beer Garden Thoughts
The Germans might have invented the beer garden, but Americans have perfected it. Don’t miss out. Visit one of the South Carolina beer gardens on our list for a thirst-quenching, good-cheer experience.
We didn’t want to get involved in bickering over what denotes a beer garden. For us, as long as the paramount components of beer and fresh are in the mix, you’re much better enjoying the experience than getting involved in a silly semantic exercise.
As we said when we wrote about dive bars in Charleston, SC, “when you’re drinking in one you know it.” The same can be said about beer gardens.
Some Much Need Backstory On Beer Gardens
Beer gardens, called Biergartens in Germany, are a staple part of German life. Sitting under a chestnut or linden tree enjoying a cold beer with family and friends is part of the social fabric of summer in Germany.
Today, beer gardens are popular worldwide offering a fun, friendly place to enjoy beer.
The birth of the Biergarten in Germany goes back to the mid-1550s. Albert V, the Duke of Bavaria, limited beer production to the cooler months of the year, namely between September 29 to April 23. This law was put in place because of the danger of fire from the very hot brewing kettles during the summer months. Bavarian houses were traditionally made of wood and were located very close to each other. During the warmer, drier summer months there was a higher risk of fire than in the cooler, wetter weather of fall to spring.
But a wonderful unforeseen consequence arose. Brewers discovered that the beer fermented in cooler temperatures actually ended up purer. The yeasts native to Bavaria thrived on a slow, cool fermentation, with temperatures between 45-56 degrees Fahrenheit being optimum. And after fermentation, the beer needed to be aged and thus stored for several months at even cooler temperatures.
As this was a time before refrigeration, breweries constructed huge underground cellars for storing the beer. This process was called “lagern” in German which means “to store.” Thus bottom-fermented beers began to be called lagers. To make certain the barrels were protected from heat, the brewers distributed gravel over the ground and planted verdant chestnut and linden trees which, as they matured, would yield plentiful shade from the sun.
Think about it: shade, gravel, beer…soon someone placed a few chairs under the trees so that patrons could sit and relax while enjoying a cold beer. Before long, tables were brought in and they started selling food with their beer.
Unfortunately, these Munich brewers angered local restaurant and tavern owners who were losing customers to these new inviting outdoor spots. These complaints were brought before the Bavarian king, Maximilian I, and somewhat surprisingly he ruled in their favor. On January 4, 1812, he prescribed that the Munich brewers could sell beer and bread, but nothing more.
Yet Biergartens continued to be a popular meeting place and it became commonplace for customers to bring their own sausage and cheese to complement the beer and bread.
By 1897, the prohibition on Bavarian breweries selling food was abolished, but by then the practice of bringing food to the brewery had become entrenched. Even though a Biergarten was allowed to sell food, it was not out of the ordinary for customers to continue to bring their own.
Though Biergartens first originated in Bavaria, they soon spread to other regions and cities in Germany, eventually becoming a national institution.
In 1999, the Bavarian Beer Ordinance proclaimed that the Biergarten was indispensable to Bavarian culture and thus need not comply with restrictions on hours (can stay open till 11) or noise (the band can play). It also ordained that any open air restaurant where outside food is allowed may call itself a Biergarten.
The Rise of Beer Gardens in America
America’s first beer gardens appeared in the nineteenth century as German immigrants in droves came to our shores. America’s beer gardens mirrored those of the Old World. They were expansive places conducive to lazy Sunday afternoons with family or engaging friendly strangers in conversation.
The rise of beer gardens in America paralleled the sumptuous industrial and economic gains of the Gilded Age and their designs echoes that style. The gardens developed by brewing behemoths such as Frederick Pabst and Frederick Miller were in stark contrast to the dive bars of today where their brands are favored.
Schlitz Garden, built in 1879 by the Schlitz brewing company in Milwaukee, contained a concert hall, dance pavilion, bowling alley, and a three-story pagoda that delivered a spectacular view of the city.
By and large, beer gardens were positioned as a respectable alternative to the ever growing number of saloons which attracted chiefly working men.
Saloons were usually dark, small places while beer gardens were large, bright places catering to entire families, which added to their popularity.
The Fall of Beer Gardens in America
Anti-German feelings after WWI followed by Prohibition withered the beer garden culture in America.
Beer Gardens Make a Comeback
Yet, we all know that it’s hard to keep a good thing down. Luckily beer gardens have seen a rebirth recently, energized by the proliferation of craft breweries, farmers markets, and artisanal food halls.
Today’s beer gardens carry on the traditions of yesteryear. A relaxed, outdoor experience where everyone is welcome, kids and pets included. It all comes down to the German word Gemutlichkeit: a feeling of warmth, friendliness, and good cheer.
American beer gardens are, in most cases, modern well-kept spaces where friends can gather and enjoy great beer outside. Some feature traditional German beer, some focus on craft beer, some have an extensive bottle list, and some serve only tap beer. They all have one thing in common: to continue the German Biergarten tradition and bring people together.