Southern comfort food isn’t the only thing worth tasting on your trip into the Holy City. The craft beer and cocktail scene in Charleston has taken off in the last decade, and it seems that residents and visitors alike now have their favorite local watering holes.
Whether you live in Charleston or are visiting the area, going on a brewery and/or distillery tour is a must. Getting together with family and friends to sip some of the finest tasting brews and spirits will make for a fun day full of memories.
The best part is that you don’t need to be an expert to enjoy the experience. Take one of the following tours and see how local breweries and distilleries in Charleston make some of the best drinks in the South.
Holy City Brewing
Although Holy City Brewing is off the beaten path, it is worth the trip. Voted “Best Local Brewery” for the sixth year in a row, Holy City Brewing has one of the largest selections of beer on tap and an impressive food selection to boot.
Located in North Charleston, the garage-style, open-air concept and outdoor cornhole setup give Holy City Brewing a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. However, it’s the establishment’s top-notch beers that impress everyone who comes through the doors.
From the Pluff Mud Porter to the Overly Friendly IPA, Holy City Brewing has something for every palate. Take a free tour or order a flight of beer to find a new beer to call your favorite.
Charleston Distilling Co.
Located on famous King Street in historic downtown Charleston, this small-batch distillery fully embraces the burgeoning “farm-to-table” experience that is sweeping the country. Using hand-selected grains from its own Millhouse, Charleston Distilling Co. uses a five-step process that visitors can glimpse by booking a tour in advance.
As you taste a variety of spirits, from a spicy pepper vodka to a delicious rye whisky, the knowledgeable staff members will educate you on their fascinating distilling process. After your visit here, you will come away with a newfound knowledge of spirits and an appreciation for local distilleries.
Palmetto Brewing Co.
The oldest brewery in South Carolina, Palmetto Brewing was making beers well before the craft scene took off in the Holy City. Originally opened in the 1850s, the brewery has withstood hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, and war until Prohibition put a halt to their production.
Fortunately, Palmetto Brewing reopened in 1993 and has produced a variety of tasty and colorful beers ever since. Book a tour of the brewery online and order one of the pretzels with pimento cheese for a delicious snack to go along with your beer.
Situated on Wadmalaw Island, Firefly Distillery is the largest distillery in South Carolina and the maker of the world’s first Sweet Tea Vodka. Visit the distillery and you will get the chance to taste six different spirits in its Tasting Room —all for $6.
To commemorate your experience at Firefly Distillery, they even let you keep the tasting glasses. You are guaranteed to leave with a bottle or two, especially once you taste the Lemonade Vodka.
Another bonus? Firefly is located right next to Deep Water Vineyard, the only vineyard and winery in the Lowcountry and another must-visit for wine aficionados.
Striped Pig Distillery
Take a tour at Striped Pig Distillery, and you will get the full rundown of how Prohibition shaped spirit-making in the Lowcountry and what goes into making a delicious and flavorful spirit as you sip a flavorful beverage.
Striped Pig Distillery was the first distillery to open in Charleston after Prohibition and is one of Charleston’s hidden gems. The staff here is incredibly knowledgeable, and they can describe every aspect of the distilling process in great detail, showcasing its passion for the craft.
The distillery offers both public and private tours and tastings, allowing you to have a memorable experience with family and friends. Just remember to dress appropriately—the open-air approach here means that summers are hot and winters are cold!
Low Tide Brewing
If you’re staying on Johns Island, then Low Tide Brewing is worth a visit. With its laid-back vibe, rotating food trucks, and great selection of beers, this quintessential beach town brewery is the perfect place to kick back and relax with a tasty brew.
This is the local watering hole on John’s Island, and you will likely see more than one dog sitting beneath its owner’s feet as residents talk about their day. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and more than happy to give you a tour and explain the establishment’s process, along with the inspiration that fuels its passion.
As with any brewery, Low Tide has its own unique processes and ingredients. Take its Coastal Harvest Gose, for example, which uses naturally grown “sea pickles” from the surrounding marshlands instead of salt to give it that salty, sour taste.
High Wire Distilling
For a newer distillery, High Wire Distilling offers an impressive array of spirits, which you can sample on its tour and complimentary tasting. Positioned in the heart of historic downtown Charleston, this small-batch distillery is a rising star in the Holy City’s growing craft spirits scene, recently nominated for a James Beard award.
Its passion for high-quality spirits is most evident through its Hat Trick gin, a fine botanical gin which uses whole dried juniper berries from the Pacific Northwest and botanicals such as cardamom and coriander. The result is an impeccably smooth gin that will satisfy both non-gin drinkers and gin-enthusiasts.
If you’re looking for something fun to do in Charleston, SC, a trip to a small batch distillery or brewery is guaranteed to be a good time. These tours give visitors the chance to see how some of the country’s finest spirits and brews are made, as well as the passionate people who produce them.
Traci Magnus was raised on the Charleston Coast and attended the College of Charleston before heading to the Big Apple. She returned to Charleston in 2006,along with her husband Glenn and their son Max. She joined the Dunes Properties team in early 2008 as Director of Marketing.