Where to Drink Beer in the South Carolina Lowcountry
Edmund’s Oast (Charleston)
Not simply one of the best beer bars in America, this Upper Peninsula spot is an all-out culinary wonderland. The massive multi-purpose space features a brewery producing beers with a culinary bent like Lowcountry Libation Collab: Fan Fiction—an earthy offering made with beets. Besides a couple dozen rotating house beers, though, there are plenty of taps devoted to the best beers of the region and beyond. And on the high-end bottle list you’ll find rare vintage offerings like 2013 Westbrook Mexican Cake Apple Brandy. With so much good stuff to drink, it’s handy there’s also Edmund’s Oast Exchange, a connected bottle shop where you can grab and go.
Edmund’s Oast, 1081 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC; 843-727-1145
Revelry Brewing (Charleston)
A three block walk from Edmund’s Oast (if you’re making the walk, don’t forget to grab the Lowcountry’s best BBQ at Lewis Barbecue en route) sits this often raucous taproom. Opened in 2014, the whimsical spot has a bar made out of an old piano (that works!) and trumpet horn tap handles (that don’t work...we don’t think). Their beers are stylistically diverse, which is saying something in 2017—New England-style IPAs sure, but also Bavarian wheats, fruited Berliner weisses, schwarzbier, and plenty of barrel-aged brews. Gullah Cream Ale, brewed with white and yellow dent corn, is a lager benefiting the area’s aforementioned Gullah community. While their current food pop-up (which once housed Lewis Barbecue), is a South American-inspired sushi spot.
Revelry Brewing, 10 Conroy St, Charleston, SC; 843-203-6194
Closed for Business (Charleston)
Open since 2010, this King Street hot spot has become a mainstay on Draft Magazine’s annual list of America’s 100 Beer Bars. The self-proclaimed “Draught Emporium” has 42 different taps, heavy on local libations which mostly means seasonal offerings from COAST, Palmetto, and Holy City. Even if it doesn’t have the most Google-friendly name, the aesthetic is quite welcoming, with relaxing leather chairs and community tables.
Closed for Business, 453 King St, Charleston, SC; 843-853-8466
The Griffon (Charleston)
Can a dive bar have great beer? Many folks say no, but they’ll reconsider those opinions after visiting this waterfront spot. The tables and chairs are beat-up, the walls are graffitied, the ceiling is covered with dirty dollars, and many locals sip on-draft PBR. Of course, the rest of the fifteen taps mostly feature eclectic local offerings like Fatty’s Beer Works’ First Shop IPA and Freehouse Folly’s Pride.
The Griffon, 18 Vendue Range, Charleston, SC; 843-723-1700
Craftsman Kitchen & Tap House (Charleston)
Opened in 2013, this is probably the Lowcountry’s best spot for food-and-beer pairings. The cuisine is affordable gastropub fare, that includes things like beer-braised squid, smoked ham Cubanos, and scallop ceviche. The brick-walled, rich mahogany space draws a cool crowd who can choose from 48 beer taps and an ample bottle selection, many of the large-format variety if you’re a total baller (on Sunday, those big boys are half off). There’s also a bourbon bar if and when you decide “beer before liquor” need no longer apply to you.
Craftsman Kitchen & Tap House, 12 Cumberland St, Charleston, SC; 843-577-9699
Craft Conundrum (Charleston)
The setting—an aesthetically displeasing strip mall, next to a beauty salon, just off the Savannah Highway—betrays the majesty inside. The spot offers 150 taps from across the planet, everything from Alpine IPAs to Founders’ boozy dessert beers to more local offerings like Low Tide Brewing’s Just a Peach of Habanero. Drink ’til midnight at the angular bar or grab a growler to-go. The roomy space offers plenty of comfy couches and chairs too, like the world’s largest, a beeriest living room. Daily food is offered courtesy food trucks and local pop-ups.
Craft Conundrum, 630 Skylark Dr, Charleston, SC; 843-277-2256
Westbrook Brewing Company (Mt. Pleasant)
The brewery that is today most associated with South Carolina beer, is perhaps more beloved in the other 49 states than it is in its homeland. Seen by some locals as perhaps too big for their britches, one still can’t ignore the brewery that put the state on the nation’s beer map. Across the river from Charleston, in a suburban enclave, sits this 7-year-old beer geek-friendly brewery. You could credit them with reviving gose in America—a perfect Lowcountry crusher—when they launched their canned version in 2012. Today, they’re more famous for their limited editions of Mexican Cake (an imperial stout)—Maple Bourbon Barrel-Aged, Coffee Cake, etc.—one of the few South Carolina beers that elicit clammering lines of beer collectors.
Westbrook Brewing Company, 510 Ridge Rd, Mt Pleasant, SC; 843-654-9114
River Dog Brewing Company (Ridgefield)
With a down-home motto like “Made from scratch in the South Carolina Lowcountry,” you might not expect state-of-the-art offerings from this two-year-old spot. You’d be wrong. River Dog is right on today’s cutting edge, with beers like Citrashake, a massive New England IPA; Imperial Perkolatte, a dessert-like milk stout with cocoa, coffee, and vanilla beans; and Sourshifter, a series of blonde ales aged on local fruit like peaches. Then again, they do make lighter offerings perfect for beating the heat, like their Riverwalk Empire Pilsner and Lowcountry Ambrosia, a white wheat beer brewed with local honey. Unfortunately, under the still-draconian state laws, their license only allows you to enjoy 48 ounces of beer per visit—so make ’em count.
River Dog Brewing Company, 591 Browns Cove Rd N, Ridgeland, SC; 843-645-2302
Southern Barrel Brewing Co. (Bluffton)
With so many Northerners dominating America’s beer scene at the moment, it can make Southerners a bit conflicted. So, if you’re going to hold your nose and brew a state-of-the-art New England-style juice bomb, you can at least name it Damn Yankee IPA, tongue firmly planted in cheek. This recently built brewery, just northwest of Hilton Head, makes more regional beers too, like their refreshing Southern Helles and Wild Bramble, a Berliner weisse made with fresh berries. The brewery features a 2,500 square-foot “tavern” made of reclaimed 1700s barn wood along with an outdoor beer garden.
Southern Barrel Brewing Co., 375 Buckwalter Pl Blvd, Bluffton, SC; 843-837-2337
The Lodge (Hilton Head)
More known today as a golf-and-frozen-drinks resort town, Hilton Head, the barrier island just north of Savannah does have at least one great craft beer option. Opened in 1996, The Lodge has managed to have a chameleon-like existence to best match current drinking trends, starting as a cigar and martini bar, morphing into a craft beer and burger spot today. 36 rotating taps are depicted on an interactive Digital Pour screen, which see listings from the local Hilton Head Brewing Company or spots a little further away like Tradesman on James Island. While visiting bros crush “whatever’s lightest” while playing sawdust shuffleboard, find a quiet corner and munch on Conecuh smoked sausage, pimento cheese, and a some craft beer boiled peanuts, courtesy famed local chef/owner Orchid Paulmeier. Or, better yet, grab a growler to take back to your hotel room.
The Lodge, 7B Greenwood Dr #4, Hilton Head Island, SC; 843-842-8966