With all the world seemingly in love with the craft beer phenomenon, it was only a matter of time before bars started focusing on satisfying the thirsts of lovers of IPAs, lagers, stouts, wheat and fruit beers - the list goes on and on.
With nearly 50 craft breweries in South Carolina, it was also inevitable that beer fans would want places where they could sample not just one brewer's work (e.g., the breweries and brewpubs), but a variety of craft beers in one place.
Thus, the rise of the craft beer bar: a friendly local watering hole that sells and rotates others' beverages in bottles, cans and on tap. Dozens are now in business across South Carolina.
Here are our top 10 plus noteworthy honorable mentions.
Edmund's Oast Exchange - 1081 B, Morrison Drive; 843.990.9449
In early 2017, Charleston Beer Exchange and Edmund's Oast (a brewpub and high-end restaurant) merged their craft beer retail sales next door to the brewpub, in the area's Pacific Box & Crate development. With about 1,000 craft beer varieties, owner Scott Shor also offers wine, glassware and food items from the Edmund's Oast kitchen. There's a porch and garden area for sipping on site.
Craft & Draft - 2706 Devine Street; 803.764.2575
Owners Kellan Monroe and Andrew Johnson have built a loyal clientele since opening the cozy, large-windowed storefront in 2013. Beer lovers can sit at the bar to sample from a dozen rotating taps (Carolinas beers are always featured), or purchase cans and bottles for takeout. No food on site, but food trucks often set up on weekends and for special events in the large parking area behind the store.
Random Tap - 1059 Two Notch Road, Elgin; 803.262.3285
With 30 rotating taps and a wide selection of bottle and can craft beers in coolers (also growler stations, plus singles and six-packs to go), this cozy "locals" location in a nondescript shopping center has seating inside and an outdoor area out back. Visitors are welcome to bring in food; Pontiac House of Pizza is a short walk away and grills are available for do-it-yourself cooks.
Community Tap - 217 Wade Hampton Boulevard; 864.631.2525
Owner Mike Okupinski and partner Ed Buffington opened in 2010 to provide Greenville with a bottle shop and growler bar. They've since moved into a larger space nearby and offer more than a dozen wines by the glass and 20 beers on tap, as well as wine and beer to go. There's indoor seating and a deck with room for 60 more. Snacks and sodas, and food from home or order-in pizza are welcome, with food trucks for events.
Barley's Taproom and Pizzeria - 25 W. Washington Street; 864.232.3706
Located a block off Greenville's busy Main Street, Barley's opened in 1996 (an earlier store was in Asheville) and since has focused on "creating the single best beer selection in the Southeast." With a full menu of salads, sandwiches, pastas and pizzas, the bar has won local "best of" awards for pizza, beer list, poolroom and bar, with 72 taps and 200-plus bottled beers.
Keg Cowboy - 108 E. Main Street; 803.957.2337
Starting out as a store to buy home-brewing gear, co-owner Natalie Nelson's place now offers craft beers and wines on tap at the stand-alone bar or from coolers. Its gastropub kitchen offers such delicacies as duck panini and duck confit dishes, local art for purchase on the walls, and board games for guests to enjoy while they sit at large tables to imbibe. "Our motto is ‘no crap on tap,'" Nelson says. "We want people to step outside the box by buying something new."
The Claw House - 4097 US 17 Business, Murrells Inlet; 843.651.4415
This is actually a New England-style lobster house and raw bar, featuring fresh seafood from the Atlantic Ocean. But the Inlet Tap Garden, open all day, features 70 craft beers, along with water views, climate-controlled outdoor deck, horseshoe-shaped oyster bar and an aquarium.
Atlas Tap House - 1004 Chester Street; 843.945.9122
With 25 craft drafts, plus more than 80 types of bottled and canned beers, Atlas also has a variety of food including appetizers, sandwiches, tacos, burgers and in-house smoked barbecue. A local favorite is its "Sunday Recovery" brunch, with plantain pancakes, shrimp and grits, beef brisket hash, and bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys.
Growler Haus - 113 N. Church Street; 864.585.6000
One of several Growler Haus locations in the Upstate, this two-story bar in the heart of Spartanburg's downtown offers two dozen craft beers on tap and a selection of bottle and can beers. Upstairs, Popi's Tacos (a Greenville franchise) serves up tacos of all varieties.
Bumstead's Pub, 400 Mr. Joe White Avenue, Myrtle Beach; 843.445.6592
Handley's Pub and Grub, 3873 Renee Drive, Myrtle Beach; 843.903.4904
Krafty Draft Brew Pub, 269 Charter Oak Road, Lexington; 803.996.0345
Kudu Coffee and Craft Beer, 4 Vanderhorst Street, Charleston; 843.853.7186
The Brass Tap, 3090 Deville Street, Myrtle Beach; 843.945.1747
Upstate Craft Beer Co., 500 Augusta Street, Greenville; 864.609.4590
World of Beer, 1386 Highway 17 North, North Myrtle Beach; 843-353-3889