Earlier this week, a busload of jolly local journalists, bloggers, and hospitality folks piled on a tour bus for a little field trip. The Growler Station at 109 Augusta Street in Greenville is offering a new Greenville Brew Tours and we were lucky enough get a sneak peek.
Recognize some of these faces? (Yes, that is Fox Carolina’s Joe Gagnon goobin’ it up in the front.)
First stop, my favorite local hangout, Swamp Rabbit Brewery at 26 S. Main Street in Travelers Rest. We sat down to one of their beautiful long wooden tables and sipped on a sampling of Belgian style White Ale and their Nitrogenated Brown Porter (two of my faves) and then brewmaster and owner, Ben Pierson, gave us a little tour and explained his brewing process. The brewery opened its doors earlier this spring and is already cranking out more than a dozen barrels of beer a week.
Our Growler Station tour guide and Cicerone Certified Beer Server, Jon Richards, loaded us back on the bus for our next stop. On the way he educated us on the history of beer, the craft beer movement, the local beer scene and what’s on the horizon for Greenville’s beer community. Aside from the possibility of new exciting beer legislation that could greatly impact our local economy, a new brewery is slated to open soon. Keep an eye out for news from the folks at Hop Riot Brewery (@hopriotbrewery).
Our next brewery was Thomas Creek Brewery at 2054 Piedmont Hwy in Greenville. I visited Thomas Creek Brewery earlier this year for the big tour. Did you know that Thomas Creek was the third production brewery in South Carolina (behind Palmetto Brewery in Charleston and RJ Rockers in Spartanburg)? South Carolina currently has 29 open breweries with another 11 in the planning stages due to open in the next year or two, according to Richards.
After checking out Thomas Creek’s brand new tasting room, going on a quick tour and downing two brew samples, we were back on the bus bound for Brewery 85 located at 6 Whitlee Court in Greenville.
I was mesmerized with owner Will McCameron’s beer knowledge. He’s magnetic! You have to go read his background. Super cool guy. We sipped on samples of their Quitin’ Time and Sweet Tea Sour brews. The Sweet Tea Sour has been featured in Maxim Online, ABCNews.com,Yahoo! News, and Huffington Post as One of the 10 Best Beers You’ve Probably Never Heard Of. Think beer meets sweet tea with lemon. Wow. I can’t wait to get back for a growler of this stuff!
Back on the bus, ya’ll. This time for a stop at Quest Brewery on 55 Airview Drive Greenville. We didn’t tour the facility here, but sat at the bar and tables in the beautiful tasting room and chatted while our glasses were filled with an amazing brew infused with blueberries and hazelnuts via a Randall beer system. This was new to me! Apparently, it’s like a tea bag for beer. The Dogfish Head invention attaches to a beer tap. You fill the canister with whatever you want, in this case, blueberries and hazelnuts, and the system pushes the beer through, thereby flavoring the beer as it fills your glass. If you want to play with your own Randall system, the company has made a 16oz Randall Jr. Go check it out here. I feel a Christmas present or two coming on!
Back at The Growler Station, we sampled a few beers paired with cheese and chocolate. Along our tour, we were given trivia questions to answer on a little card. I won a gift certificate! Yay me!
If you’re looking for a cool way to spend a Saturday, this is the ticket folks. The normal bus tour takes you to three breweries and winds up at The Growler Station. Tickets are now on sale for the first May 24th tour. By July, tours will be held on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month from 2-5pm. As demand increases, so will tour dates. Private/corporate tours are also available. $55/ticket. For more information to www.greenvillebrewtours.com.
Note: Join Greenville Brew Tours for a special tour of Asheville breweries on June 7th from 1-6pm. $75/ticket. Sign up now here.
You’re craving beer now aren’t you? Cheers!