Will McCameron’s enthusiasm was palpable as the tour began Thursday night. Six friends and I visited Brewery 85 to partake in the tour and tasting I won in a scavenger hunt last fall. This impressive brewery, set on a quiet cul-de-sac along an I-85 frontage road, is poised to be a major contributor to Upstate beer culture.
The evening began with samples of the three options on tap: Yeoman’s Brown Ale, Southern-style Pale Ale and Quittin’ Time Helles Bock, which will all be available at the grand opening on February 1st. I can honestly say that every beer we had that night was stellar. Yeoman’s is definitely my favorite of the trio, and it’s nigh impossible to choose a second favorite. The pale ale is very drinkable, with enough bitterness to tickle the pallet without being overwhelming. On the other hand, you just can’t beat a good bock.
With mason jars in hand, we walked around the bar to begin the tour. The brewery has a unique, open layout—you can see sip a beer in the tasting area and watch a new batch of beer being brewed.
Will shared a little about himself, including his homebrewing history and experience training in Germany. We even had the pleasure of meeting his friend Brandon, who trained with him. Will gave a very enthusiastic, but realistic picture of the efforts that go into brewing; it really is a job you have to work hard for! I loved his regular geek-out moments, which gave us insight into the science behind the brewing process.
Five of my friends are Clemson grads, so they were delighted to find that Will is not only a graduate, but also keeps the university at heart when planning brewery operations. His interns are Tigers, and at the end of the brewing process, he “recycles” his spent grain to a nearby Clemson alum who feeds it to his cattle.
Like Ben at Swamp Rabbit Brewery, Will has his eye set on utilizing local elements in his beer and business. He’s using local yeast and has plans to grow hops and an orchard on site. After showing off the large outdoor patio, which houses fire pits and promises beautiful sunset views, Will shared some of his bigger dreams of partnerships and programs that expand brewing education in this region.
Back inside, we headed to the cooler, where a variety of kegs sat ready for Saturday. Will also pointed out a collection of barrels from Van Winkle, Heaven Hill and Knob Creek. Bourbon-barrel aged brews—as if I needed another reason to love about this brewery! I may have done a tiny, happy jig at the sight of these beauties.
We wrapped up the tour at the tanks again, where Will treated us to a taste of the very first beer he brewed. This golden, lemony beer, reminiscent of Shock Top’s Lemon Shandy or Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, was a hit; perhaps Will was convinced to try to replicate it.
As far as future beers go, Brewery 85 patrons can expect to see brews like Oktoberfests and an IPA later this year. The next release will be the (864) Weizen, an exclusive beer to this area.
In case beer alone isn’t entertaining enough, Will has grand plans for brewery events, including live music, game nights and food truck visits.
Opening day celebrations start at noon on Saturday, February 1st, and run until 4 p.m.
The public is invited to this non-ticketed event; everyone may order up to three pints (per SC law), each at $5. Though cash is preferred, credit cards will be accepted. Pack a chair, a jacket and your good spirits for an exciting opening afternoon!
And if for some absurd reason you are abducted by aliens or enlisted by the government for a secret mission in Kazakhstan and miss the opening day, you can try Brewery 85’s first beers at Mac’s Speedshop, Liberty Tap Room and Barley’s. Keep an eye on the website for brewery hours to post soon.