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Charleston's Burgeoning Craft Beer Scene

A Beer Pilgrimage to the Holy City (Issue 22)


Godliness goes a long way in the Holy City, where law mandates no buildings rise above the array of venerable church steeples dotting the peninsula. Until recently, laws prohibited brewers from making beer above 6 percent ABV, along with serving a full pint. These arcane restrictions were lifted in 2007 and 2013 respectively, paving the way for a rush of breweries.

Before we hit the town, we stock up at Charleston’s most respected bottle shop, Charleston Beer Exchange. It’s the size of a large closet, but a brief scan of the carefully curated collection could bolster any craft enthusiast’s cellar.

I pick up a few local bottles, an Oro de Calabaza from Jolly Pumpkin and a Bell’s Expedition Stout, and leave feeling lighter in both wallet and heart. After a quick recharge of coffee and food cart gyro, I’m ready to start my quest for divine libations.

Naturally, it begins at Holy City Brewing. The man behind the beer pulpit pours a Pluff Mud Porter, which took home gold at the 2012 GABF. The silky brown suds make a statement without overwhelming the palate. It is true to form in flavor, with mild chocolate and a hint of roast, yet still refreshing.


Holy City Brewing's taproom strikes a fine balance between rustic and modern; and cleanliness without "hospital chic."

The taproom is refreshing as well. Clad in warm wood and light, a tasteful mix of distractions make for a cozy environment. I could stay awhile, but my guide is eager to carry on.

Freehouse Brewery is right down the road. A 2013 addition to the city’s brewing force, it’s an all-organic facility located right on the Ashley River. The view is as delicious as the ALE Back Pale Ale, an English take on the style that puts balance before hop declarations.

Charleston Beer Exchange Photo Credit: Flickr user Edarke, Bottom: Holy City Brewing



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