As one of America’s oldest cities, Charleston offers an incredible mix of history, scenery, food, and—you guessed it—beer.
Whether you’re a local, an east coast traveler, or a cross-country adventurer, there are sweet sites to see and great beer to sip all around the city. And this September, the charming southern town will host Charleston Beer Week—a weeklong celebration of local craft beer running from Sunday, September 13 through Saturday, September 19.
To help all of you out-of-towners plan your Charleston itinerary, we got the inside scoop from two local beer and bar experts: Chrys Rynearson, Charleston Beer Week organizer and co-founder of CHSBeer.org; and Daniel Lesesne, owner of The Original Pub and Brewery Tours of Charleston.
Here’s to adding a few more beer stops to your tour de Charleston.
City Must-See: Charleston City Market
Charleston’s downtown district is famous for its cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and places to eat, drink, and be merry. Start your day or night right in the old City Market, which is full of food vendors, crafts and artwork to oggle at or take home.
Beer Nearby: The Original Pub Tour; The Brewery Bus Tour; Craftsmen Kitchen & Taphouse
Located right in the middle of the City Market at 40 N. Market Street, The Original Pub and Brewery Tours of Charleston is known for its entertaining mix of drinking and history. Perfect for those want to chase their booze with some knowledge, you’ll get a feel for the pub scene and enjoy local microbrews at pubs that are hundreds of years old.
- The Pub Tour is “beer focused and history focused,” according to Lesesne. “It’s a fully narrated historical tour. The bars have good selections and some are 200 year-old taverns.” That knowledge we mentioned? “Prohibition history and pirate history,” Lesesne said. Who could say no to that?Bonus for beer moderates: this tour also includes Southern treats like sweet tea vodka, Irish nachos, and mint juleps.
- The Craftsmen Kitchen & Taphouse is an award-winning restaurant and craft beer bar that’s a stop on the Pub Tour worth visiting on its own. With 48 beers on tap and specials like Thursday night Flights & Bites ($10) and half-priced large format beers (that’s 22 oz. bottles) on Sundays, you can kick back and relax on your travel budget with plenty to eat and drink.
- The Brewery Bus Tour is “definitely beer-centric, not really history at all,” said Lesesne. The bus picks you up downtown and heads up to Northern Charleston, where you’ll get a behind-the-scenes guided tour at three local microbreweries. Some standout breweries included are COAST Brewing Company, Holy City Brewing, Freehouse Brewery, Palmetto Brewing Company, Revelry Brewing and Westbrook Brewing. Whichever three you see, you’re sure to get ample samples of good beer. According to Lesesne, each person gets 15 4 oz. pours.
Beer Week Event: She’s Crafty (Brewster Beer Showcase & Center for Women Benefit)
On Wednesday, Sept. 16, this pay-as-you-go charity event will raise money for Charleston’s Center for Women. According to Rynearson, this is “a collaborative beer showcase by seven local breweries, where ladies have come up with various beer concepts and helped brew the beer as part of the ‘BREWSTER’ (Building Relationships & Empowering Women Striving To Exist Responsibly) program.”
City Must-See: Charleston Museum
As the oldest museum in the country, Charleston Museum is a popular stop for city-goers. Its proximity to the Aiken-Rhett House Museum and Visitors Centers makes it a great destination for daytime exploring—with beer in the mix, of course.
Beer Nearby: Closed for Business; Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer
An easy walk from the Charleston Museum and the Aiken-Rhett House Museum, Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer, a coffee shop and roastery with craft beer on tap, is truly a magical place to refuel with caffeinated beverages and craft beer.
“Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer always has a great selection of beer on tap, excellent coffee, and a beautiful courtyard, which is pretty rare for downtown,” Rynearson said.
Closed For Business (that’s the name of the bar) is also nearby on King St., surrounded by tons of excellent restaurants.
Beer Week Events: 3rd Annual All SC Tap Takeover; Casks & Crafts
On Tuesday, Sept. 15, Closed For Business will be doing their third annual all South Carolina tap takeover, with 42 taps featuring beer from across the state. “It’s pay-as-you-go and they do various pour sizes, so one could sample a good variety of beer,” Rynearson says.
On Friday night, Sept. 18, Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer will be serving up Casks & Crafts with rare cask-conditioned pints, draft specials, food and live music in the aforementioned courtyard.
City Must-See: Riverfront Park
People focusing their efforts downtown often forget Northern Charleston, which is just a 15-minute Uber drive away. With attractions like Riverfront Park, located on the former Charleston Naval Base and host to tons of concerts and festivals, this part of town has a total of appeal on its own.
Beer Nearby: Holy City Brewing; COAST City Brewing; EVO Pizzeria
“COAST Brewery and Holy City Brewery are located within five minutes of each other in North Charleston. Both make excellent beer, do flights, and are pet and child-friendly,” Rynearson says.
Food options include Holy City, COAST (which often has a local food truck), and Rynearson’s favorite in the area, EVO Pizza, which boasts a solid beer list and amazing food.
Beer Week Events: EVO is Local; Drink Beer, Save Turtles
On Monday, Sept. 15, EVO Pizzeria will be hosting EVO is Local, pouring brews from 10 local breweries, and serving a variety of snacks prepared by Chef Blake McCormick.
On Thursday, Sept. 17, Holy City Brewing will host a beer event in the name of turtles. No seriously, it’s called Drink Beer, Save Turtles.
City Must-See: James Island
Right off the mainland of Charleston city proper, James Island is a great place to visit, pack a picnic, and sample some barbeque and beer.
Beer Nearby: Tradesman Brewery; Smoky Oak Taproom; Bohemian Bull
Lesesne recommends Tradesman Brewery, a nanobrewery (even smaller than a microbrewery) where he’s been too many times to count. Tradesman isn’t about the “novelties” when it comes to their small batch beer. Instead, they stick with the classics, with a Red Ale, Wheat Pale Ale, and various seasonals.
While you’re on the island, the Smoky Oak Taproom is a good place to fill up on barbeque and bar fare, along with the Bohemian Bull, which celebrates burgers and beer and has a back area that feels like a private room.
Beer Week Event: Bendy Brewski Chewski at Tradesman Brewery
Fit in your workout (vacation-friendly, we promise) with Bendy Brewski Chewski, a stretching and yoga beer event at Tradesman Brewing on Tuesday, Sept. 15.
City Must-See: Joe Riley Stadium
Located on the West side of town, Joe Riley Stadium and Riley Park have become a popular venue for third-party events, along with being the home of Charleston RiverDogs baseball team.
Beer Nearby: You’re already there!
Beer Week Event: Charleston Beer Week Kickball
Riley Park is literally kicking off Beer Week with Charleston Beer Week Kickball on Sunday, Sept. 13. Other September events that fall within Beer Week here are the UMA Fall Family Festival on Sunday (daytime), and the Shrimp & Grits Festival on Saturday, Sept. 19.
Enjoy your beercation Charleston-style! And if you have any more must-hit spots that we missed, let us know in the comments below.