South Carolina’s beer scene has been slow to develop compared to its northern sister, but the tide has started to turn, thanks to a series of legislative changes making the state friendlier to the beer business.
Brewers guilds must educate, protect and promote. It’s taken the craft brewing industry some 35 years to be able to produce 12 percent of the beer bought in America. No one accomplished that feat alone. There is strength in numbers.
Palmetto Brewing, South Carolina’s first modern brewery, started in Charleston in 1993, but seven other production breweries have opened since 2007. Beyond that, a bevy of retail shops, bars, and tour companies have filled most corners of the city with at least one solid craft option.
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Beyond alcohol limits, many Southern states struggle with taxes, breweries operating off-site brewpubs, various antiquated distribution woes, prohibitive homebrewing regulations and much more. But thanks to the region’s proactive beer makers and consumers, many of those laws are beginning to change.
COAST Brewing is a tiny brewery run out of an old navy yard in North Charleston, S.C. Its founders, David Merritt and his wife, Jaime Tenney, can only crank out big, hugely creative beers because they first led the campaign to liberalize South Carolina’s brewing regulations.
Until a few years ago, South Carolina’s beer culture was hamstrung by arcane and capricious caps on beermaking, alcohol content and distribution. In a few years, the city has become a true world-class beer destination.
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