Brewery tour business expanding into Spartanburg
The Brewery Experience, launching Sunday, is a weekly tour that promises to highlight the flavor, history and personalities behind Spartanburg’s burgeoning brewery scene.
“I think South Carolina, in a lot of ways, has played catch-up in terms of the craft beer industry, but that’s changing,” said Gary Glancy, a former Herald-Journal reporter and the owner of The Brewery Experience.
Glancy knows his beer. As a Herald-Journal/GoUpstate.com reporter, he watched the growth of RJ Rockers after its downtown move and tracked the passage of legislation in Columbia that eventually cleared the way for the rise of the Palmetto State’s craft breweries. While a reporter, he also maintained “Hoppy Hour,” a beer blog on GoUpstate.com.
Glancy is also a Level 2 Certified Cicerone. Think of that as the beer equivalent of a sommelier, the professionals you turn to at fine dining establishments and vineyards when you’re looking for expertise about wines. He also likes to say he was the guy who brought craft beer along to parties before it was cool.
Glancy eventually left the Herald-Journal, and he launched The Brewery Experience three years ago. To date, it has offered expeditions in Greenville and surrounding areas, including Hendersonville, N.C. The idea was to offer a fun, safe way to hit the highlights at various breweries across town.
“What we’ve found is that people really just love to meet the people who started these businesses,” Glancy said. “They want to know what inspired them to start a brewery. In many cases they left another career and rolled the dice and went with their passion. I think people love to hear those stories, and they get to see new things and try new beers along the way.”
Glancy said that the Greenville-based service has seen plenty of growth, but the opening of Spartanburg’s fourth and soon-to-be fifth breweries — Holliday Brewing at Drayton Mills and Plankowner Brewing Co. in Boiling Springs, respectively — means it’s time to expand his tours to Hub City. RJ Rockers, Ciclops Cyderi & Brewery and New Groove Artisan Brewery also call the area home.
“It’s a really good sign,” Plankowner Brewing owner and brewer Shawn Waggoner said of the launch of the new tours. “Part of what makes this industry so unique is that everybody loves to share what they do, and I think people really respond to that. I think that’s why tours like this are important for breweries to embrace.”
Waggoner said he sees Spartanburg’s brewing scene as on the verge of becoming a destination for craft beer lovers in its own right.
“You’ve got good stuff that’s already online, but I think we might see more on the way,” Waggoner said. “I think people are going to recognize that. There’s an amazing amount of creativity in terms of product and recipes and decor, and everybody wants to share this with people who come through their door.”
The Brewery Experience will start with Sunday-only public tours from 1-4:30 p.m., meeting at RJ Rockers on Main Street before moving on to Holliday Brewing and New Groove. Stops at Ciclops and Plankowner could follow in the future.
Weekly public tours are $59 per person, with samples included. Private tours cost $79 per person for a Spartanburg-based tour, Glancy said.
For more information or to book an outing, visit www.thebreweryexperience.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 828-216-1343.