Thirsty Thursday: Raising a Pint in South Carolina

David Merritt and Jaime Tenny
David Merritt and Jaime Tenny are the owners of COAST Brewing in Charleston, SC. Photo courtesy of Jaime Tenny.

This week’s post was written by guest contributor Heather Richie, a Charleston-based freelance writer.

Before South Carolina’s Pint Bill passed in June, microbrewery visitors could only sample a brewery’s wares from 4-oz tasting glasses. Now, a brewery can serve up to four pints per customer, per day, on its premises, putting South Carolina on par with other states that are making headway in craft brewing.

The woman who led the Pint Bill effort is Jamie Tenny. The Pint Bill marks the third and final bill Tenny, co-founder of both COAST Brewing Co. (with her husband, David Merritt) and the South Carolina Brewer’s Association, has ushered through legislation in the last decade.

Tenny launched “Pop The Cap SC” in 2005 to raise the allowable alcohol content in beer above the previous cap of 5% ABW. The organization met that goal and renamed itself South Carolina Brewer’s Association in 2007, then passed a combined retail and brewery tasting bill in 2010. This summer’s Pint Bill was the third and final of Tenny’s agenda, foreshadowing the couple’s expansion of COAST. They are currently gutting their North Charleston building to make way for new equipment and a larger tasting room. “It’s like getting a whole new brewery,” said Tenny.

Without the Pint Bill, COAST’s growth would not have been possible. Earlier this year, COAST employed Kickstarter to reward grassroot supporters of their upcoming expansion, and organized a Pint Pedal cycling event to celebrate The Pint Bill’s ratification. The event was such a success, Tenny plans to host more like it. Their new equipment arrives in September.

“In order for South Carolina craft brewing to stay competitive, this bill had to pass. It is great to know I can go to a brewery and be able to enjoy pints of beer with my local brewers,” said Nick Allison, a craft beer aficionado who enjoyed COAST’s seasonal offering, the 32/50 Kolsch, this summer.

With Coast at the helm, South Carolina can now make a bigger dent on the national landscape of microbrewed beer, which means more tax revenue for the state. A host of newly formed South Carolina microbreweries are eager to join the craft beer boom.