When you think about areas of the nation that could be considered the "craft beer capital of the nation," what locations come to your mind? You might think of Denver, Seattle, Atlanta or you might think Boston. You might think further west, as there are quite a few areas in California with a high density of craft breweries. However, you might be better off looking to the Southeast. Charleston, SC, is one of the fastest growing areas for craft breweries and is shaping up to give others a real run for their money (or their beer as the case may be).
Currently, Charleston can boast three microbreweries, with a fourth being added in May of this year. You'll find Westbrook Brewing Co, Coast Brewing Co and Palmetto Brewing Co. The newest addition to the lineup will be Holy City Brewing. To top this all off, the city also offers an immense specialty beer store with rack on rack and cooler on cooler of nothing but specialty beers produced by some of the best craft breweries in the area and from all over the country. In fact, BeerAdvocate actually recognized the Charleston Beer Exchange as the best beer store in the nation.
The impact of the craft brewing industry in the city can be felt far beyond the number of breweries and options for buying craft beer, though. Coast Brewing has actually had an effect on state law. Yes, that's right – the brewery was instrumental in changing South Carolina laws that prohibited beer tastings and sales at the brewery. Today, microbrews can let their patrons sample their wares onsite, and sell their brews from the brewery, thanks to the efforts of these pioneers.
Palmetto Brewing Co, which first opened its doors in 1994, was actually the first Charleston area brewery since Prohibition, which says a lot. You'll also find that Charleston area brewers are a driving force for organic and locally sourced ingredients. Coast Brewing uses only local and organic ingredients. Moreover, they use biodiesel to fuel the kettles to make their beer.
If you'll be spending any time in the area, you'll find a wealth of enjoyment just by visiting the microbrews and hitting the Charlotte Beer Exchange. You might even find that this is enough temptation to make you change your vacation plans this year. Charleston is a great place for a little rest, relaxation and beer after all.