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Beer Industry Blossoms in Charleston, Brewery Tours Offered

I think South Carolina’s more modern views on alcohol laws all started with the repeal of the mini-bottles on January 1, 2006. If you weren’t around for mini-bottles, SC bartenders poured drinks from mini-bottles from what most people recognized as “airplane bottles” from 1973 until 2005. It was a way to create revenue because each bottle was taxed, but finally the mini-bottle went away and most people never missed them.


Since then, South Carolina has made legislative leaps and bounds that will benefit local businesses within the state. In 2007, SC approved the sale of high gravity beer, or specialty craft beers with an increased weight of sugar and gravity “pull” in the fermentation process that have a higher alchol content because they contain more sugar. Charleston even had it’s first craft beer festival in February, Brewvival, which featured over 30 craft beers.

Then, last summer micro-distilleries were allowed to offer tastings and Firefly Vodka opened up for tastings but breweries were excluded from this law. Now, breweries and beer enthusiasts can finally enjoy their beverage of choice!

South Carolina is now home to five breweries and Mt. Pleasant will soon be home to a sixth, Westbrook Brewing Co. COAST Brewing Co. produces organic, craft beers in North Charleston, and the owners have been a leading force in passing legislation in favor of high gravity beer and brewery tours, plus organizing Brewvival. COAST is holding tours Saturdays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and Thursdays from 4-7 p.m. Palmetto Brewing Co. has no formal tours set up, but give them a call for details. Stop by beer heaven, aka Charleston Beer Exchange, to fill your growler with local beers too!

According to The Spartanburg Herald Journal:

Breweries in South Carolina now can give out free samples of beer and sell their beer directly to consumers, though they must be done in conjunction with a tour of the “entire brewing process utilized at the licensed premises.” The law also stipulates that:

  • Samples are limited to four, 4-ounce pourings of beer less than 8 percent alcohol by weight, and four, 2-ounce pourings of beer above 8 percent ABW, in a 24-hour period.
  • A brewery can sell up to 288 ounces to an individual per day, which includes one case of 24, 12-ounce bottles, one case of 12, 22-ounce bottles or four, half-gallon “growler” jugs.

The new law also allows for retail stores to conduct beer tastings, with these stipulations:

  • The retailer must notify the State Law Enforcement Division of the tasting at least 10 days in advance.
  • Eight products can be sampled at a tasting event.Samples can be up to 2 ounces for a beer less than 8 percent ABW and 1 ounce for a beer above 8 percent ABW (only two of the products sampled can be above 10 percent ABW).
  • A single retail establishment is limited to 24 tastings per calendar quarter.
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