Even if you’re looking for it, it’s easy to miss House of Brews. The converted former house in Mount Pleasant, east of downtown Charleston just before the bridge to Sullivan’s Island, doesn’t exactly look like a beer-drinker’s paradise—but that’s kind of on purpose. “We always liked the idea of a house party with good beer,” says Rob Davis, who opened House of Brews in 2011 with his wife, Bree, after they converted the home’s kitchen into a small bar and the bedrooms into dry storage for a selection of bottles and cans for sale. Today visitors to House of Brews can peruse more than seven hundred bottles, or relax in the backyard with a pint of one of the eight beers on draft. Soon, the Davises will open a second location in the West Ashley neighborhood, west of downtown across the Ashley River, their success mirroring the explosion of craft beer in Charleston at large. “When I opened, there were four local breweries,” Davis says. “We’ve got more than thirty now.” Here, Davis expands on six stops to get newcomers started on a sudsy tour of the Holy City.
1250 2nd Street N, North Charleston
Coast Brewing, located on a former naval base in North Charleston just minutes from downtown, reigns as one of the area’s longest-running locally owned beer operations and tops Davis’s must-visit list.
Davis’s Picks: “Coast’s kolsch, the 32°/50°, is the beach beer—light, clean, and easy-drinking.” Davis also recommends the Dead Arm pale ale and Coast’s new Hefeweizen, which is so popular he can hardly keep it in stock. “They’re refreshing, with a little bit lower ABV so you can drink more than a couple.” Coast brews their Bull’s Bay Oyster Stout, a standout Davis recommends trying any time it’s on tap, with local oyster clusters. “They’ll throw ‘em right in the tank—shell and oyster. It helps keep it a little bit lighter and a little bit thinner, and you get that nice Charleston salt mixed in with that roasty chocolate flavor.”
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Westbrook Brewing Company
510 Ridge Road, Mount Pleasant
Westbrook boasts the largest distribution of any Charleston brewery, so you may have already tried one of their better-known beers such as the One Claw IPA, or the more elusive Mexican Cake stout and Key Lime Pie Gose. But a visit to the Mount Pleasant tasting room can yield some tasty surprises, such as K Is for Kveik, a hoppy farmhouse-style pale ale, or the Pineapple Shake IPA. “Ryan [Marcom, head brewer] is always changing up his hops, so he keeps it nice and fresh,” Davis says.
Davis’s Picks: Lagers can be hard to make, but Westbrook has beefed up its offerings. “The Low and Slow Pilsner that they just started doing is fantastic. In this temperature, that’s the beer I’ll be drinking.”
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The newest member of the Low & Slow family has arrived! Low & Slow Pilsner is our version of an everyday “house” pilsner. Made with 100% German pilsner malt and noble European hops. Swing by the taproom to try some from 4-8 and enjoy some food from Marzan Puerto Rican cuisine! #westbrookbrewing #chsbeer #lagerlifestyle #pilsner #noblehops
4831 O’Hear Avenue, North Charleston
Though it only opened in early 2018, Commonhouse Aleworks has already made a name for itself in North Charleston’s bustling (and pedestrian-friendly) Park Circle neighborhood. “It’s a beautiful space, there’s good food, and they always have something fun going on,” says Davis. Then there’s the beer. “[Head brewer] Shane Cummings is one of the top three brewers in town, in my opinion,” Davis says. “He’s had his fingerprint on a lot of the really awesome places in Charleston—worked at Westbrook, worked at Coast. He’s really talented.”
Davis’s Picks: “The Park Circle Pale is always a great beer.” But you can’t go wrong with anything you try, from lagers to stouts. “It’s not like you’re taking a shot in the dark. Shane knows how to brew these beers right.”
Charles Towne Fermentory
809 Savannah Highway
For some of the city’s best India Pale Ales, scoot across the Ashley River from downtown to Charles Towne Fermentory, an intimate spot in the Avondale neighborhood that specializes in unfiltered IPAs. “They’re doing hazy beers so well,” says Davis. “Adam [Goodwin, head brewer] has got a great pedigree coming from Trillium Brewery in Boston, one of the leaders of the hazy scene.” Davis also praises the Fermentory’s laid-back environment—there are games and a small kitchen with rotating chefs.
Davis’s Picks: “I’m a firm believer that anytime you go to a brewery, you should try their flagship beer,” says Davis. At Charles Towne, that’s the Sungazer, a New England–style IPA brewed with a Citra hop powder.
2895 Pringle Street, Suite B, North Charleston
For a brew with a view, try Freehouse Brewery, an all-organic operation tucked away in the back of an industrial North Charleston neighborhood. “They’ve got a great outdoor area overlooking the Ashley River,” says Davis. And the circa-1942 building will soon house a lot more beer (and beer drinkers)—a major expansion, including a 1,500-square-foot screened porch, is reportedly in the works.
Davis’s Picks: “The Green Door, I think, is the best IPA in Charleston right now,” Davis says. “It is one of their signature beers, and they’ve done a great job revamping it.”
The Hold by Revelry Brewing
36 Romney Street
Revelry Brewing’s rooftop views just north of downtown and regular live music lineup make it an essential destination for locals and tourists alike. But just a few blocks away from the brewery’s high-flying flagship lies The Hold, a more intimate space where Revelry experiments with sours and wild beers by offering limited-release pours and specialty beer cocktails. “They’ll pour beers there that they don’t release elsewhere,” says Davis, who compares the space to the Funkatorium, Wicked Weed’s sours-focused outpost in Asheville.
Davis’s Picks: Arriving with an open mind is half the fun—the Hold’s menu changes often and includes unusual bottles and drafts like the Ramblin’ Rubus, an American wild ale with raspberries, along with the occasional beer cocktail. “Talk to the staff,” says Davis. “They’re there for a reason.”
BONUS: The Beer Bars
Beyond House of Brews, Davis is quick to credit his peers for their expansive selections, too. “Brew Cellar (1050 E. Montague Avenue, Suite D, North Charleston), up in Park Circle, is a smaller store, but they’ve got a great selection for their size,” he says. And, “Gene’s (817 Savannah Highway) in Avondale right next to Charles Towne Fermentory, is an institution.” But up the road in nearby Summerville, thirsty visitors will find the ultimate destination. “If you want the best local tap selection, it would be Homegrown Brewhouse (117 South Main Street, Summerville). Caleb [Taylor, owner] has forty taps in there, and it’s usually almost all local beers.”