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Charleston's Burgeoning Craft Beer Scene

A Beer Pilgrimage to the Holy City (Issue 22)

The city of Charleston was bound to become a craft beer haven. Equal parts college town and gentrified refuge, you get the impression that people come here to spend money – whether they have it or not. And what better way to deflate a bloated wallet than a tour of the city’s ample watering holes?Westbrook Brewing Mexican Cake

Our tour starts with a daytime jaunt to Westbrook Brewing, located in Mt. Pleasant, SC, right outside of Charleston. In terms of distribution Westbrook is leading the local pack with a steadily increasing footprint driven by a solid year-round lineup and its yearly crop of Mexican Cake, a riot-inducing Imperial Stout aged on cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks and fresh habanero peppers.

Tucked into an industrial enclave, Westbrook’s facility is fairly unassuming. If it weren’t for the Spanish moss, palms and lemongrass growing out front, which they use in their White Thai wheat beer, you’d have no idea you were a stone’s throw away from a juicy Chocolate Raspberry Imperial Stout brewed to celebrate the brewery’s 5th anniversary.

And if you weren’t already holding their dry, nutty Udderly Milk Stout, you might not realize the even larger facility under construction next door is also theirs. Westbrook’s growth has been bolstered by contracts with some of the biggest gypsy brewers in the industry, Stillwater Artisanal Ales and the notorious Evil Twin.


Westbrook Brewery


Like most of Charleston's breweries, Westbrook hasn't been around long enough to fill the walls with breweriana. 


All three brands produce high-quality beer, but while contract brewing is an effective business strategy, it has left Westbrook’s taproom feeling a bit sterile in terms of culture. The walls are bare, and you get the sense that this is a business first and a brewery second. Regardless, their business is making good beer, and in the eyes of the fastidious brewer, sterility is next to godliness.


Photos Courtesy: Westbrook Brewing

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