Holy City Brewing, North Charleston, SC

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On vacation at the beach, and I have time, as it turns out for one side trip to a local brewery.  I had intended as many as three.  Well, Holy City Brewing’s website won me over compared to others, as well as the name.  Sorry, Palmetto or Westbrook Brewing.  You may or may not have better beer.  Maybe next time.
From the preconceived notion of what the brewery might look like, my first opinion was more of the “Hmm, this isn’t promising” variety.

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Half empty sign, deteriorating parking lot, and, most importantly, a vacant building facing the street.  Instead of turning around and heading for choice #2, I got adventurous, as I sometimes do, and drove behind the building to see what might be behind it as a lengthy stretch of “cheap metal building” to the side hinted at other things.  A collision center at least, right?

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Okay, low overhead.

I was promptly greeted upon entering by Brewtus, their mascot.  He said “hi” with a “please pet me” look, which I did, and he wandered away happily.

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This one, though, wasn’t as personable.

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Which is to say, it’s a pretty casual place.  So, I sit at the bar and try to figure out my selections.  South Carolina allows a measly four 4 oz. servings at “tastings.”  That is, until a couple of weeks from now when breweries will be able to sell up o 48 ounces of beer for on-premise consumption.

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Seventeen offerings seem quite a wide variety, but closer examination reveals some variations of the same basic beer.  I like spicy foods, so I opted for #17 – “more smoked pepper, less bourbon wood chips.”  What I then drank was 4 ounces of a poor decision.  The spices were very sharp, and the smoked flavor would carry through the next three samples.  I should have had quickly moved on rather than going through the portion.

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Next was the High Country Pale Ale, returning to safer waters.  This was a bit hoppier than expected, but a solid brew.  Next was the Holy Citra RJ, a collaborative beer with RJ Rockers, a brewery from Spartanburg, SC.  This was the best beer I sampled, with the hops dominating a hint of grapefruit.

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Last was the barrel aged Pilsner.  Barrel aged beers are interesting, but I’m undecided if I like them.  Others I’ve tasted have been bourbon flavors which provide a distinctive whiskey flavored edge to the beer, usually overshadowing it.  This Pilsner, though, was well balanced with whatever Seagrams had in the barrel. 

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The brewery had several walk-in customers for growler refills, and otherwise more were arriving as I departed.  With a pool table and a dartboard, it seems a decent place to hang out and enjoy fresh beer.

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The “tour,” if there is one, didn’t happen.  The pourers were amiable but task oriented rather than selling what is distinctive about their brand.  I did find out that their market is primarily the Charleston area, with a surprising output of 13k barrels per year.

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Overall, it was a nice diversion, just as it was a reminder to not immediately fall prey to the oddities that will never find their way to bottles or cans.  On another visit, sure.

Across the parking area from the brewery was this railroad container.  The rust color was appropriate for the location, but the art was impressive.

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