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Falling for the Charm, and Brews, of Greenville, South Carolina

October 18, 2023  |  Jim Vorel

Standing on the elegantly arched Liberty Bridge, suspended over the rushing, tumbling waters of the Reedy River in Greenville, South Carolina, it is difficult to imagine that the burgeoning Southern city has ever looked any other way. The bridge itself is an aesthetically pleasing marvel, curving dramatically over the city’s Falls Park on the Reedy, where the river tumbles downward over a series of natural cataracts before the Reedy continues on through the city at a more placid pace. The park occupies a perfectly central position in the heart of the city’s downtown commerce district, a focal point that can accommodate huge numbers of pedestrians and families as they make their way to any of the numerous spots to grab a bite, or shop, or entertain themselves in the area. It feels like such a natural fixture that you half expect the falls would have been the reason the city was built in this location in the first place–how strange, then, to learn that until two decades ago, the entire area was inaccessible, hidden away under a highway!

The renovation and transformation of Falls Park on the Reedy, then, serves as an obvious metaphor for the rebirth of Greenville itself, a city that in the space of a few decades went from a declining industrial hub to one of the region’s most highly rated tourism destinations. Where there once stood textile mills and supporting industrial buildings, there are now green spaces and water features, alongside countless amenities for visitors, with the shell of the mills still preserved for the sake of local history. Since its official opening in 2004, the park and its 355-foot bridge have served as a locus, a symbol of Greenville’s revitalization as it embraces its future as “GVL,” a spiritual successor, perhaps, to the nearby Asheville, North Carolina. The place feels like it symbolizes the hope of the city’s residents for a bright future.

That hope and positivity were on full display this past weekend at the city’s annual Fall for Greenville festival, a combination food/music/arts/beer fest, celebrating the city’s vivacious personality and local restaurant scene for more than 40 years. Stretching up and down the length of GVL’s Main Street, with a footprint stretching for roughly seven blocks, the festival encompassed more than 60 restaurant booths and six musical stages, with more than 80 musical acts performing from Friday-Sunday. Simultaneously, beer and wine garden vendors poured from a variety of 50-plus beer, wine and cider libations, many of them from within state lines.

There were, of course, some real treats for the foodies in attendance. I found myself particularly enjoying crispy fried green tomatoes, drizzled with horseradish dijon from riverside gastropub Smoke on the Water, followed by Tasso ham gravy shrimp ‘n grits–there were so many shrimp/grit combinations at this festival–from steakhouse Larkin’s, which balanced a savory, smoky ham broth with the brightness of sweet peppers. But being a Paste writer and resident beer and spirits obsessive, I was soon compelled to journey outside the festival grounds to visit a handful of Greenville’s burgeoning craft breweries.

Here, then, in classic Paste fashion, is a breakdown of some of the excellent beer options you can find when you’re down in Greenville, South Carolina.

Greenville Craft Beer Highlights

1. Liability Brewing

North of downtown GVL, one can find Liability Brewing, which is immediately notable on a national scale for the fact that it’s a Certified B Corporation, one of only 18 U.S. breweries (among 10,000 or so) that can live up to this extremely high environmental standard set by B Lab, a global nonprofit that seeks to “transform the economic system into a more inclusive, equitable and regenerative global economy.” Liability is likely one of the smallest craft breweries to qualify for B Corp status, the others of which in the U.S. include such well-known names as Allagash, New Belgium and Lawson’s Finest Liquids.

With a beer lineup that leans toward comic book and geek-friendly inspirations–how could avowed John Carpenter fans like ourselves not enjoy the brewery’s They Live mural?–Liability Brewing produces a diverse array of styles, but has been especially praised for their spot-on, traditional Belgian ales. That includes repeat medal winner Feral Garden Gnome, a mid-strength Belgian blonde ale that displays sunny notes of banana bread, pear and sweet spice.

Find the full article at Paste Magazine.