Until recently, York County was home to just a single brewery. But within the last couple of years, enough have opened in the county to warrant a brew trail centered around exploring them all. The YoCo Brew Trail — which was started by Visit York County, SC — rewards brewery visitors by giving them a T-shirt if they visit all of the stops on the brew trail.
In its first year, more than 2,000 people have completed the full YoCo Brew Trail, which includes stops at Amor Artis Brewing, Dust Off Brewing Co., Lake Wylie Brewing Co., Legal Remedy Brewing, Main Street Bottle Shop, Rock Hill Brewing Co., Slow Play Brewing and Windy Hill Orchard and Cidery.
There have been more than 5,000 check-ins across these establishments, and it all adds up to an estimated spending of $127,075 for the county. Earlier this year, the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism recognized the YoCo Brew Trail with a Charles A. Bundy Award, which is “given to the attraction, destination or development that helps rural communities reach their tourism potential.”
“It really turned into something much more than what we thought it would be,” says Billy Dunlap, president and CEO of Visit York County, SC. “It really took off overnight.”
In addition to its own brew trail, the county now boasts its own beer week, too. The inaugural YoCo Beer Week runs from this Saturday through Nov. 16, with special beer week swag at participating businesses.
The idea for a beer week came about when Aaron Klingenschmidt, one of the owners of Rock Hill’s Main Street Bottle Shop, approached Ben Lee, one of the owners of Rock Hill’s Slow Play Brewing. Klingenschmidt and his shop have presented the Tap the Rock beer festival for the last four years.
Slow Play’s one-year anniversary and the Tap the Rock festival serve as bookends for the inaugural beer week, but there are events happening at participating businesses every day. Here are a few ways to celebrate York County’s burgeoning beer scene next week.
Slow Play Brewing’s One-Year Anniversary: You can kick off the week at Slow Play Brewing’s First Orbit anniversary party to mark the brewery’s first trip around the sun on Saturday. $10 gets you a commemorative glass and your first fill, after which you can purchase tokens for additional beers. The celebration will feature a lineup of artists, vendors, food trucks and live music, and the brewery will have a bottle release at noon. The brewery is releasing two different bottles of The Rake, a barrel-aged farmhouse ale — one was fermented in Chardonnay barrels, and the other in Pinot Noir. The 500-milliliter bottles will be $15.99 each, with a limit of 12 bottles per person.
Colonel’s Club Boil & Brew: The inaugural Colonel’s Club Boil and Brew will be held from 3-8 p.m. on Saturday at Fort Mill’s Anne Springs Close Greenway (it benefits the greenway’s educational programs). General admission tickets are $60 ($50 if you’re a member of the greenway) and get you entry, all you can eat from a Lowcountry boil buffet, dessert, and two drink tickets that can be exchanged for beers from several York County breweries. There will also be activities for kids, a raffle and live music from Chunky Daddy starting at 4 p.m.
Get Down in Old Town: From 2-6 p.m. Saturday, you can “get down in old town” at Rock Hill Brewing Co. The event is family-friendly, with live music, kids’ face-painting, fire pits, vendors, axe-throwing and adult hot chocolates.
Sunday at Dust Off: At Dust Off Brewing this Sunday, enjoy select $5 pints or $7 flights.
Beer Release at Lake Wylie: The newly opened Lake Wylie Brewing will release its Shoreline Rye Pale Ale on Tuesday.
Bottle Release at Legal Remedy: Legal Remedy Brewing will release bottles of Imperial Motion to Strike Milk Stout starting at 4 p.m. next Thursday. The 9.1-percent ABV stout was brewed with lactose and brown sugar, and has spent the last 12 months in bourbon barrels. Bottles will be $20 each, and the brewery will have cornhole boards out and vinyl spinning for the release.
Tap the Rock Beer Festival: Cap off the beer week in downtown Rock Hill’s historic district at the fourth annual Tap the Rock beer festival, which will feature more than 40 breweries from North and South Carolina. For $35, you can enjoy unlimited samples of these breweries, or you can opt to purchase individual beers. A VIP ticket gets you a commemorative sampling glass and entry into a special area with rare beers (like a flight of Dogfish Head 120 from 2017-2019), catered food and a private bathroom. VIP ticketholders also get a token to vote in “The Battle for SC,” in which a dozen of the state’s breweries compete inside Main Street Bottle Shop for a chance to win a spot on draft for an entire year. The festival benefits the 809 Festival, which honors fallen officer Michael Doty through community projects, youth mentoring and substance abuse prevention and treatment.
Check www.yocobrewtrail.com for the full list of events.
Event of the Week
For the past five years, The Unknown Brewing Co. has encouraged its fellow brewers to get weird, and this year’s Strange Brew festival on Saturday will be no different. For those wanting to try beers brewed with truly unconventional ingredients, there’s no better event. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite for $35 and allow for unlimited sampling, live music and special performances. 7-10 p.m. 1327 S. Mint St.