While we were hanging out at Holy City on Thursday, 2/6/14, multiple people told us about this great brewery not too far away. On a whim, we gave COAST Brewing Co a call and followed the guys from Holy City over there to check it out. Co-owners Jaime and David both greeted us at the brewery located in the Navy Yard at Noisette and told us all about their family owned business.
Jaime not only handles most of the business side of the brewery, but is also the founder and president of the South Carolina Brewer’s Association. Formerly known as Pop the Cap, this grass-roots craft beer advocacy group can be thanked for many of the recent changes to beer laws in SC. First, they were able to raise the legal alcohol limit of beer being sold in the state from 5% by weight (6.2% ABV) up to 15% by weight (17.5% ABV). Then, just a few years later, they went to work on the tasting law. Prior to 2010 you could not go into a SC brewery and taste or buy any beer at all – beer could not be transacted in any way – not even for free. The original tasting law allowed for four on-site 4oz samples and 288oz could be purchased to go. This past summer of 2013 the tasting laws were expanded to be 48oz on-site, whether that be samples or full pints, and you can walk away with a case, whether it be in the form of bottles, cans, or growlers. Since those laws changed, breweries have been popping up all over the state and SC will see around 20 total by the end of this year.
COAST opened back in 2007 and was just one of two breweries in Charleston at that point, alongside Palmetto Brewery. The head brewer and husband of Jaime, David, has been a brewer in South Carolina since he was 20 years old. With the help of their assistant brewer, Michael, COAST was able to brew around 750 barrels last year. They did that using a 7bbl brewhouse, however, they are upgrading to a 30bbl brewhouse soon. Utilizing the new equipment they hope to quadruple production right off the bat, then get to around 5,000 bbl per year within the next year or so. This will go hand-in-hand with an expansion of their distribution, as their goal is to be statewide instead of being just in Charleston and nearby towns. We were also told that the water in the area is high in chloramines, so they treat absolutely all water that makes it into the brewery by using Reverse Osmosis (RO) and softening it to different levels based on which recipe the water will be used in. Also, COAST uses choice organic and local ingredients, but have no plans to be certified organic since it is more of a mindset of considering the environment in everything they do. Furthermore, energy efficiency is their number one priority since it uses less resources from the beginning, and their brewhouse runs on waste feedstock biodiesel from a processing plant that is just 300 yards away.
The COAST website states “We don’t brew to what the mass market dictates. We brew beer we want to drink, and tastes are ever changing and evolving. Styles will change with the season or on a whim, you won’t know what to expect except a damn good beer.” Breaking off of that statement, Jaime told us that they have not only created around 56 different recipes over the past 7 years, but also do not stick to a solidified brewing schedule and brew whatever all of them feel like brewing on that day. Two main-stay beers are offered throughout the year: HopArt IPA and 32/50 Kolsch. They aim to have 8 year-round brews in the not-too-distant future, but for now those 2 year-round beers are accompanied by a plethora of seasonal and rotational offerings. Blackbeerd Imperial Stout, Dead Arm Pale Ale, and Carnie-Fire Hoppy Red were the ones being offered that night alongside the two year-rounds, so we indulged in a flight of all five beers and recommend that you do the same when you go check out the brewery.
Outside of working with the South Carolina Brewer’s Association, COAST is always working with the community and charities in some way. Two small examples include them participating in an auction at David and Jaime’s kid’s school the night after we visited, and holding multiple potlucks throughout the year where money is raised for different causes. Tours and tastings are conducted at various times during their designated hours of 4pm – 7pm on Thursdays and 11am – 2pm on Saturdays. As stated above, you can purchase up to 48oz of beer to consume on-site and most pints will run you $5. Big thanks to both Jaime and David for showing us around their expanding brewery!
Author: Michael Roberts