“We walked around and felt something special about Greer.”

December 2020: Greer, SC

Sudsy Sweethearts

Matt & Anna Bowes/Southern Growl Owners

Matt: We’re actually from Ohio, just south of Columbus, and high school sweethearts.

Anna: We didn’t actually go to the same high school; our schools were a bit apart. We met in New York at Young Life summer camp and hit it off right away. Then we went to The Ohio State University and got married in 2010. In 2013, we decided to move south for a change of pace and to somewhere a little warmer. I got a job teaching art in Boiling Springs.

Matt: I had graduated with a zoology degree, and had a passion for micro-biology. I was really starting to go down the rabbit hole of beer and brewing science. I enjoy the mix of the creative and science-aspect of brewing beer; it combines the fun and technical side of beer. We were getting into the craft beer movement in Ohio, so when we moved down here, and didn’t see or hear that same thing, it gave justification that we were on to something. In 2013, we were feeling like there was a piece missing between the awesome diversity of beer being brewed around the country, and the availability to taste the varieties with guided help from someone knowledgeable.

“That was the genesis for Southern Growl. There are over 100 different styles of beer and there’s something unique about each one. I started reading, learning, and tasting everything I could get my hands on.

Anna: We went through the Cicerone© Certification program, and Matt went through the American Brewers Guild “Intensive Brewing Science and Engineering” course to get that deeper depth of chemistry and biology. We knew the concept and what we wanted to do, but didn’t know the area at all. So, we started driving all over the Upstate in search of the perfect place to grow and foster our dreams.

Matt: We drove through Greer on a Saturday afternoon during the annual Oktoberfest. We walked around listening to the oompah bands and felt something special about Greer. The people seemed friendlier, there is a historic aspect, several large corporations already call Greer home, and we saw the potential for growth in this area. Pretty much from that moment, we began our search for the exact spot to open The Southern Growl.

Anna: We ended up with a 1,300-square-foot-space at Buncombe Road and Wade Hampton Boulevard. It was a modest space and that was all we needed for our 60-beer taproom. People quickly caught on that this was the place to come for good beer and knowledgeable people to help you find a beer you’d enjoy. I continued to teach and would beer-tend at night, and then after two years, I left for The Southern Growl fulltime.

“Matt: In April 2016, two years after opening, we took over the suite next door and added a full kitchen. We hired executive chef Joey McCarter. And within a year, our new, larger space was filling up and we realized we needed to take the next step, and this was going to be the big one. It took us three years to design, plan and build the current brewery on North Buncombe Road. We opened in November of 2019, less than half a mile from the original spot.

Anna: We really love this space. Now we have 4.5 acres. We have 28 full-time employees. We train all of our bar staff on beer knowledge through the Cicerone Certification Program. We have 10 Certified Beer Servers and 5 Certified Cicerones – the most of any pub, brewery or tap room in South Carolina. The Greer area, in general, has a lot of business professionals and families. In the afternoon, we’ll have a decent number of families that come with their kids. They spend the day. We have a 10,000-square-foot building, and a large patio, and a huge grassy lawn. The kids bring soccer balls and run around. What we’re most excited about, and one of the reasons we moved here, is to do big events like beer festivals, carnival-style parties, and movies on the lawn. We’ve got the space, so when people are ready to party and celebrate, we’re here and we’ll bring the beer. “

“Matt: We’ve gotten to meet a ton of awesome people in the beer industry. We love the industry. There’s a unique collaboration, and when one brewer does well, we all do well. It’s very open. When we first opened in 2014, there were only around 12 breweries in South Carolina. That’s now up to more than 100, with a couple of dozen more in the works. We had been buying beer from around the world. Now, we brew our own beer, featuring 25+ different styles, in addition to the guest taps, house cocktails, cider, mead, wine, cold brew coffee, and sodas. We’re the only production brewery in Greer. Last year, we produced over 400 barrels of beer. One barrel is 31 gallons of beer. Anna: We’re trying to keep our eyes on the horizon, and look out for what we think the community will benefit from, and how we can facilitate that. Creative Director is my main title and I do a lot in that realm. I take most of our photography, manage social media, and handle most of the administrative side of things. And of course, I enjoy interacting with our customers and having a beer with them. They are just awesome.Matt: We like living here a lot. It’s very convenient to Greenville and Spartanburg, and it offers everything we need.

“But most nights when I want to go out, and have a meal and a beer, I don’t want to have to drive 30 minutes, pay for parking, and then have to walk to the space. Greer is manageable and avoids all of that.Anna: We love the downtown area. They just put a ton of work and money into it. It’s a really nice place to walk around and a lot of new businesses. It keeps growing. Most of our friends live here too. There’s no reason to leave. Being here and being local, it’s easy to make close relationships versus a big city, where you can’t find that kind of support, or people really rooting for you, and enjoying a shared experience of living together. Matt: I absolutely love every aspect of beer, and I enjoy working with my hands, as you can tell from everything in here I built, and I love to share these things with anybody who will listen. It’s been seven years with us living and working in Greer. It’s a tight-knit community. We know our customers, because they are our friends. If I had the chance to do this all over, Greer would still be the place where we would open.