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Columbia Business Monthly

#YeahTHATAgenda: Greenville Tops Charleston As Craft Beer Capital, Rock Hill Throws Panther Party, Michelin's Unity Park Donation, Jay-Z's Cookie Company

Jun 06, 2019 01:32PM ● By Chris Haire
Greenville bests Charleston as the state's craft beer capital: The craft beer business in South Carolina began in Charleston with the founding of Palmetto Brewing in 1993. Since then, the Lowcountry metro has been a major player in the still-growing Palmetto State brewing industry, with one of the co-owners of North Charleston's COAST Brewery Co., Jamie Tenny, leading the effort to bring high-gravity brews to the state, a watershed moment in Palmetto State beer history.

Over time, the Charleston beer scene has spawned a number of new sud houses, from Holy City Brewing to Frothy Beard Brewing Co., Edmund's Oast Brewing Co., Revelry Brewing Co., and Westbrook Brewing, the maker of one of the most sought after brews in the nation, Mexican Cake, with some bottles fetching up to $900 a pop, according to Gear Patrol.

And that's to say nothing of the fact that Lowcountry beers dominate Beer Advocate's list of Palmetto State beers.

Which is why it make come as a surprise to South Carolina beer geeks to learn that the Chicago-based marketing firm C+R Research has Greenville topping Charleston on a list of cities with the most breweries per 50,000 people. 

According to C+R, Greenville has 10 breweries per 50,000 people, a figure that earns the city a No. 7 place on the list. Charleston, on the other hand, has seven breweries per 50,000 and a No.16 ranking -- an stellar placing for sure. Portland, Maine, tops the list with 18 per 50,000, followed by Asheville, N.C. at 17 per 50,000, and Bend, Ore. at 16 per 50,000.

No other North or South Carolina city made the list.

Some perspective: 
according to the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, Charleston has 27 craft breweries while Asheville has 39. Greenville has 14 breweries, with half a dozen more on the way, according the local CVB, VisitGreenvilleSC.

It's also worth looking at a 2016 study from Statista ranking American's craft beer capitals; it bears similarities to the C+R study.

C+R also noted the most popular breweries in each city based on Google searches. Birds Fly South landed the top spot in Greenville, Freehouse Brewing in Charleston, and Asheville Brewing Co. in Asheville. Feel free to debate the results.

It's also worth noting Charleston's population of 130,000 is nearly double that of Greenville's 70,000 and well ahead of Asheville's 90,000. It is also unclear if the breweries have to be located within city limits.

Regardless, the 
beer industry is a significant economic contributor to the both Carolinas, with a total economic impact of $1.3 billion in South Carolina and $3.5 billion in North Carolina, with 15,000 beer industry-related jobs in the Palmetto State and 34,000 jobs in the Tar Heel State, according to the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

You can see C+R's entire list below:



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