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Name That Beer: 10 SC Brews with Regional Cues

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.
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When it comes to naming their brew babies, there’s no shortage of creativity among craft brewers. The more whimsy tripping off the tongue, the more fun it is to order up a pint.

But sometimes there’s more to a beer name than mere catchiness. Study the menu at locally owned breweries and brewpubs, and you’ll likely see clues to something interesting and reflective of the region in which you are being served. Here are 10 such offerings from South Carolina brewers, each beer bearing a name that gives an affectionate nod to its birthplace.

Aiken Brewing Company, Aiken
Beer: Aiken Thoroughbred Red
Brewer description: Deep amber in color with a dense rich foamy head, the flavor is dominated by toasted malts with hints of caramel and well balanced with English hops.
Regional tie-in: In the heart of South Carolina’s Thoroughbred Country, this beer honors the area’s equine traditions, which include two steeplechases each year. One sip and you’ll think of wide-open spaces, warm scenes of thoroughbred-dotted pastures, polo matches and fox hunts—all found in Aiken.

Dust Off Brewing Co., Legal Remedy Brewing Co., Rock Hill Brewing Co., Slow Play Brewing Co., Rock Hill
Beer: Only in Old Town Porter
Brewer description: Toasted walnut and molasses aromas with flavors of toffee and light chocolate, finishing with a light lingering walnut flavor.
Regional tie-in: This beer, born of a collaboration among Rock Hill breweries, pays homage to what is known as Old Town Rock Hill, a historic area that encompasses the city’s downtown. Historic homes, revitalized neighborhoods, restored textile mills and a thriving arts community define Old Town, the pride of Rock Hill. This porter embodies both the rusticity and modern touches that now characterize Old Town.

Fireforge Crafted Beer, Greenville
Beer: Reedy River Rye, pale ale - American
Brewer description: A rounded sweetness and rye finish.
Regional tie-in: The Reedy River is Greenville’s most defining feature. Meandering through the heart of its bustling downtown, the picturesque waterway provides a contrast between the city’s lively energy and the quiet, relaxing flow of the river. This pale ale goes down with all the pleasure of gentle rapids with an interesting turn at the finish.

Hilton Head Brewing, Hilton Head Island
Beer: Crab Pilsner
Brewer description: A golden, straw-colored lager with mellow aromatics and a clean, rich body. The finish is bright and crisp.
Regional tie-in: This beer is summer in a mug, which is fitting for an area known for warm-weather whimsy. And, if you’re feeling crabby, Hilton Head Island is a good place to be. Folks dropping crab nets from docks and bridges is a common sight here, not to mention that crab racing is a favorite draw at the annual Hilton Head Seafood Festival in February. Of course, crab-centric restaurants are in abundance, too. The beachy vibes you get from this beer are deliberate. Pack up a cooler, hit the Hilton Head shoreline and plan on crab for dinner.

Holy City Brewing, Charleston
Beer: Pluff Mud Porter
Brewer description: Presents (and smells) like a classic porter, with subtle chocolate notes and a silky finish.
Regional tie-in: Pluff mud is one of those Charleston features that is met with both disdain and fondness. The malodorous mud found in Lowcountry marshes is inhaled with gusto by locals and typically met with wrinkled noses by tourists. While pluff mud is an acquired taste, so to speak, this namesake porter strikes the balance between aggressive and milder flavors, sort of like the sweet, sulfurous fragrance of pluff mud that will greet you when you visit Charleston.

River Rat Brewery, Columbia
Beer: Broad River Red Ale
Brewer description: Vienna and caramel malts give this mildly sweet red ale the flavor of a toasted biscuit, perfectly balanced with Perle hops.
Regional tie-in: The Broad River runs through the capital city, providing all manner of recreational opportunities for paddling, tubing and more. This beer gives the beloved Broad rightful recognition for its place in local outdoorsy enjoyment and was crafted to go great with South Carolina favorites like shrimp and grits. That’s a Palmetto State pairing that can’t be beaten.

RJ Rockers Brewing Company, Spartanburg
Beer: Palmetto Trail Pale Ale - American
Brewer description: A pale, lightly hopped American pale ale that's dry-hopped with a heavy dose of Citra and Amarillo hops.
Regional tie-in: This brewery is showing its “green” colors with this pale ale, named for what will be South Carolina’s only mountains-to-sea trail. Sales benefit the Palmetto Conservation Foundation’s efforts to complete the Palmetto Trail, which will link passages across the state to create a comprehensive pathway from the Upstate to the Lowcountry. Take a hike to experience South Carolina’s stunning natural beauty, and then cool down with this refreshing pale ale.

Seminar Brewing, Florence
Beer: Pecans Gone Wild
Brewer description: The cherrywood-smoked malt delivers a subtle, understated smokiness while the pecans add a soft and lingering sweetness to the finish.
Regional tie-in: This collaborative effort is a perfect representative for the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. Seminar Brewing is a hub of brewsky enjoyment operating in the town of Florence, home to the annual SC Pecan Music and Food Festival. The region also has a storied pecan past as a former major supplier of the South’s favorite nut. Visitors can taste all that history with this beer, one of the culinary pecan offerings you can try when visiting designated businesses (including Seminar) along the SC Pecan Trail that wends through Florence. 

Westbrook Brewing Company, Charleston
Beer: Matt’s Sweet Potato Casserole Milkshake IPA
Brewer description: A hazy milkshake IPA with sweet potatoes, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, marshmallows, vanilla and milk sugar.
Regional tie-in: Sweet potatoes love South Carolina’s sandy soils and South Carolinians love sweet potatoes just as much. This desserty brew concoction not only reflects that ardor, but it encompasses all the flavors that make sweet potato casserole a mealtime staple in these parts. Can’t get your fill? If you love beer and sweet potato casserole, simply belly up to the bar at Westbrook, get yourself a glass of this milkshake IPA and let visions of a fine Southern supper dance through your head.

Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.