Joel Carl (a local) and Sean Nemitz (CofC grad from VT), business partners in Charleston's rickshaw industry, found themselves less-than-slammed in the winter months. Idle hands are the devil's playground, so, being good boys, they took up homebrewing. Soon they had a custom, 15-gallon, all-grain pilot system in their garage. That bad boy - made with welded bicycle parts, elbow grease, and love - became a central part of the rickshaw garage, and is now at the heart of the brewery. Roughly a dozen full-production Holy City offerings are recipes born on that system.
Mac Minaudo was working in Asheville’s budding biodiesel industry before returning home to Charleston to continue his venture. He invested in a 4,000 square-foot warehouse space in North Charleston and planned to focus on biodiesel collection. Turns out Congress did not renew a federal tax credit. Mac shared tales of his challenges with his friends Joel and Sean. Legend has it, beer was involved.
Meanwhile, Chris Brown, a CofC graduate hailing from Atlanta, was working in the food & bev biz in Charleston. Chris had spent time in Colorado, attended professional brewing school, and worked full-time brewing for Gordon Biersch in Atlanta. F&B was always meant to be a means to an end, and Chris found kindred spirits in Joel, Sean, and Mac.
The quartet decided it was time to open a brewery. Charleston was on the cusp of developing a serious craft beer culture at the time. South Carolina's cap had been popped, allowing for higher alcohol beers to enter the market from both at home and abroad. Palmetto and COAST had made their marks, and Westbrook was just getting started. But there was still a hole left in the marketplace by these stalwart brewers. This crew saw it, and never looked back.
A deep overhaul of the Mac’s warehouse space took months for the four to complete. A new floor was poured, a grain mill and auger system built, and a full bar brought in from the original Cumberland's, Joel’s old stomping ground. By contrast, the brewing equipment was brand new and professionally installed. By July 20, 2011, these boys were hard at work.
Holy City Brewing has become a local favorite in a very short time. Their year rounds are true classics, a hoppy German pilsner and a porter that, somehow, is still refreshing in warm weather. Seasonals run the gamut from IPA, to stout, to Belgian Strong Pale Ale, to bacon porter. Yes, bacon porter. Don't tell your cardiologist.