Tuesday, January 07, 2020
(note: this post was updated on Jan. 8, 2021)
*sets down pint glass*
*wipes away beer-foam mustache*
Spartanburg’s first craft brewery, RJ Rockers, has been churning out locally-made brews since 1997 and put Spartanburg on the craft beer world’s map with its signature Son of a Peach. Just a few minutes away, Ciclops Cyderi & Brewery offers traditionally-inspired German brews and a few proudly “absurd” offerings. A quick drive north and you’ll find New Groove Artisan Brewing churning out beers inspired by spots around Spartanburg County and some of the brewer’s favorite things to eat (we’ll explain later).
Spartanburg’s beer scene has steadily grown as the national beer craze has hit new heights.
Holliday Brewing is the next brewery on tap to join Spartanburg’s growing craft beer scene. The brewery, with a wheelhouse of West Coast-style IPAs, is set to open inside the revitalized Drayton Mills Marketplace with a grand opening celebration on March 9.
Spartanburg’s beer scene has steadily grown as the national craft beer craze has hit new heights. Laws passed over the last five or so years have made South Carolina a more desirable place for national brewers and a better home to the established and up-and-coming breweries hoping to call the Palmetto State home.
RJ Rockers transformed from a brewpub to a thriving brewery with an attached restaurant in Downtown Spartanburg. Nationally, RJ Rockers is well-known for its signature Son of a Peach, a wheat ale brewed with heaps of peaches, but anyone who has visited the brewery’s Tap Room knows RJ Rockers’ bench goes much deeper.
There’s Bell Ringer, a true heavyweight double pale ale loaded with hops and malt (it definitely packs a punch). There’s the musically-named Brown Eyed Squirrel (try not singing it to the tune of “Brown Eyed Girl”) which has a smooth, chocolatey taste. And those are just the year-round beers. Seasonal favorites like the Good Boy Stout, named for dearly-departed brewery mascot Stout, the Flannel Red IPA, Witty Twister and First Snow Ale.
Rockers features a classic brewery set up with tables a-plenty and towering, metallic brewing equipment giving drinkers an up-close look at where what’s filling their glass came from. The brewery hosts live music several times a week in case the beer isn’t entertainment enough.
Ciclops Cyderi & Brewery set up shop on St. John Street in September 2015. The innovative concept, brought to life by Kolby Garrison, was designed to be the first cidery/brewery/taphouse in the state, brewing beer and cider on-site just across the street from the Chapman Cultural Center. Ciclops has a beer hall-style décor with long tables and open seating and a lounge area, all of which are designed to encourage people to strike up conversations as they drink.
Taps at Ciclops vary, but their lineup of core beers have become mainstays at the bar. Downtown SpartanBrown is a nutty, brown ale. Austrinken is a traditional hefeweizenbier brewed with only wheat, barley, one hop, water and yeast. The popular One-Eyed Pterodactyl, named to hear patrons try to pronounce pterodactyl correctly (it is hard to say, in fairness), is a simple but delicious IPA painstakingly researched and taste-tested.
Garrison passed away in October of 2018, but Ciclops has created a popular – and growing – fanbase in Spartanburg thanks in large part to Garrison’s creations, his pride and his dedication to creating recipes both traditionally-influenced and proudly “absurd.”
New Groove was started by two homebrewers chasing their passion. Set up in a funky looking building behind a gas station on Highway 9, New Groove churns out some unique brews along with beers drinkers are more accustomed to seeing.
Sour and dark beers have taken hold at New Groove. The Weisse is Right and Groove is in the Tart guarantee a delicious, lip-puckering pint. The Cole Porter and Randall’s Brown Trout offer something a little more luxurious and dessert-like for the beer drinkers’ palette.
Along with those more-standard offerings, New Groove has brewed a stout aged with donuts (yes, donut beer) and a popular beer inspired by a Monster Subs sandwich, brewed with tomato and jalapenos.
Motlow Creek Ranch and Cider Company, founded by local entrepreneur John Macomson in Campobello, is home to the Fat Ass Heifer Cidery.
The business, offering mountain views from the southern edge of the Blue Ridge, makes a variety of ciders from apples grown across the state and from 1,500 apple trees planted across the farm. Their award-winning lineup features the Palmetto State Wine Competition’s Best Cider in the State and many other varieties.
Also in Boiling Springs, Plankowner Brewing, started by U.S. Navy veteran Shawn Waggoner, focuses on what it calls its tenants: tradition, commitment and community.
After getting involved with brewing in Florida, Waggoner decided to focus on the endeavor full-time, and moved to Spartanburg County for a change of pace, opening Plankowner in 2019.
The rotating tap list at Plankowner features traditional ales and IPAs, along with some more adventurous brews like a blonde ale brewed with jalapenos for a spicy kick.
The beers crafted by Holliday Brewing are inspired by west coast experiences like off-roading on a motorcycle or trekking through a desert.
Spartanburg’s newest brewery opened with 20 taps with 18 of Holliday’s own creations and a rotating list of guest beers. Holliday Brewing doesn’t plan to offer bar snacks, but with Pi-Squared Pizza and a Mexican restaurant coming to Drayton Mills, food deliveries will be made to the brewery.