Inside Spartanburg’s Craft Beer Scene

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Inside Spartanburg’s Craft Beer Scene

Posted on Thursday, November 12, 2015

By Harris King
Produced in cooperation with the HubCity Writers Project.

Craft beer is booming across the country, and this is also the case in Spartanburg. Recently, the United States eclipsed 4,000 breweries, which is its highest mark since the late nineteenth century.

South Carolina, thanks to progressive, beer-friendly legislation, is quickly catching up to the rest of the country in the craft beer explosion. In June 2013, the Pint Law was passed allowing craft brewers in the state to serve customers on site up to 48 ounces of beer in a tour and taste setting to go along with existing growler sales. The following summer in 2014, the so-called Stone Law was passed in order to make South Carolina more attractive to national craft breweries such San Diego’s Stone Brewing Company, which was looking to expand to the East Coast. Ultimately, Stone did not choose South Carolina, but the new legislation led to a boom as breweries across the state expanded or opened their doors for business in the craft beer friendly environment.

Beer drinkers in Spartanburg have never had it better. Both visitors and residents have many choices where they can pull up a chair or barstool and get a brew that was often just brewed in the last few days—and sometimes just around the corner from where they are sitting.

The standard bearer for craft beer is RJ Rockers, which got its start in 1997. What started as a humble brew pub on Morgan Square at a time when there were very few retail establishments nearby has now become a thriving brewery and tap room in its own standalone space in Spartanburg’s historic downtown. And thanks to the new legislation, Rockers has dual licensing, which allows it operate as both a production brewery and a brewpub. Indeed, the Rockers tap room is open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and craft beer drinkers can sample old standards and the newest creations they find on the chalkboard above the bar. It all takes place amidst the brewing tanks, and customers can socialize with the founders, brewers, and pleasant staff at Spartanburg’s first modern brewery.

The second brewery in the Hub City is Ciclops Cyderi and Brewery, which opened its doors on St. John Street in September 2015. The new establishment is housed in the Hub City Tap House, where customers can sample both beer and cider created on site, as well as a wide range of brews from other like-minded breweries. The Tap House has a beer hall feel to it with long tables and a bar that lends itself to sitting down and making new friends.

The Growler Haus is located on Church Street right across from Morgan Square, and since it opened its doors, Spartanburgers have had a location to sample many beers that weren’t available to them before without leaving town. The chalkboard lists up to 24 beers that hail from right down to street to all over the country. The great atmosphere is supported by a long bar where patrons can talk to the staff about the beers they are drinking and plenty of comfortable chairs and couches. And if you like what you are drinking, you can fill up a Growler to take home with you.

If you are just looking to pick up a quick 6-pack on your way home from work or before heading to a tailgate, the Hop Spot located in the Hot Spot gas station at the corner of Henry and South Converse streets is the place for the craft beer shopper. At first glance, it doesn’t appear to be more than a standard convenience store, but things quickly change in the walk-in cooler in the back of the store. Therein are the best selection and prices in the area. Its rotating selection never disappoints.

Restaurants and bars throughout Spartanburg also recognize the importance of craft beer. Local establishments such as Cribb’s Kitchen, Willy Taco, and the Nu-Way all have craft beer on tap to go along with the excellent food found there.

Overall, what’s so great about Spartanburg’s craft beer scene is how welcoming it is. The people who run and work at all the locations are all friends and very supportive of each other. And this in turn is reflective of the clientele who visit the establishments. Whether students from Spartanburg’s seven colleges and universities, white collar workers still in business attire, members of Spartanburg’s growing art scene, or all types in between, everybody is welcome. The lack of pretentiousness creates a pleasant atmosphere, and the already super fresh beer tastes even better as a result. Spartanburg is thriving in so many ways, and the access to wonderful craft beer is another example. Cheers!

Harris King, Produced in cooperation with the HubCity Writers Project.

Harris King is a German instructor at Clemson University. The Spartanburg native has spent many years living in Germany but has always loved coming home to family and friends. He actively supports his Spartanburg Vikings and Wofford Terriers.

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