A few years ago, South Carolina prohibited the sale of beer with alcohol content above 5 percent, which prevented many beer lovers from enjoying craft brews. But that all changed when Pop the Cap lobbied hard for a repeal of the law. Since then, Charleston has been in the grips of bona fide beer mania. Beer dinners, Brewvivals, and growlers have become all the rage, and if you don't know what any of those are, then you need to stop by the Charleston Beer Exchange and get yourself an education.
Charleston Beer Exchange
Scott Shor and Rich Carley have a tiny shop that's stocked — top to bottom — with the most impressive craft beer selection you've ever seen. They've got nine taps at which you can fill up growlers — half-gallon glass jugs — allowing them to stock and sell rare beers that only come in kegs. Sealed, the growlers are good for a while, but once they're open, be prepared to drink up before the beer goes flat. The Exchange is open Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and on Sunday, 12-6 p.m. (Yes, you can buy beer on Sundays in Charleston County).
Palmetto Brewing Co.
For many years, these guys were the only game in town when it came to a fresh, locally-brewed product. They've been around since 1994, brewing and bottling several varieties. Their most popular is the Amber, but they also have a nice Pale Ale, a refreshing Lager, and dark Porter. You'll find Palmetto at most downtown restaurants and bars.
COAST Brewing Co.
Only a couple years old, COAST has quickly become a local hero in the craft beer scene. Brewmaster David Merritt and his wife Jaime Tenny pride themselves on having an organic, bio-fueled approach to brewing their beer. They just started bottling, but you'll most likely find their brews on tap at select downtown locations. Look for it at Chai's, Charleston Beer Works, Closed for Business, Fleet Landing, The Griffon, Hank's Seafood, and Mellow Mushroom. The HopArt IPA and the 32/50 Kolsch are the most prevalent, but you might stumble across a specialty keg of Blackbeerd, the Imperial Stout, or the DIS Dry Irish Stout. If you do, order one and enjoy a rare treat.