When you walk into Ciclops Cyderi & Brewery, the taste and smell of the brewing process is unmistakable. Spartanburg residents from all walks of life can be seen interacting at long wooden tables specifically designed to encourage a community atmosphere as drinks are enjoyed and conversations are shared.
That’s exactly what Kolby Garrison wanted.
“This table is eight feet (long) and way too big on purpose. If you’re sitting down tonight and there’s 75 or 80 people in here, you’re going to have to scoot over,” Garrison, owner of Ciclops, said. “Then the question is, ‘hey, what are you drinking?’ And then the conversation opens right up.”
Ciclops Cyderi & Brewery recently celebrated its third anniversary with a birthday party featuring all the signature craft drinks Ciclops has become known for.
Three years ago, the business was just the idea of a few friends looking to do something South Carolina had never seen before — open a brewery with a taphouse inside. It was just after state lawmakers passed what was known as the “Stone Law,” expanding what state breweries could produce and what they could offer, Garrison said.
At the time, Garrison had lived in Spartanburg for more than a decade. After first visiting Downtown Spartanburg, his business partners, Michael and Rachel Wilcox, knew they had their location.
“It really started with Michael and Rachel coming into Downtown Spartanburg one weekend, my wife and I had already lived here for 12 years, but they had come into Downtown Spartanburg, stayed at the bed and breakfast (The Inn on Main) walked into Downtown and just fell in love with it,” Garrison said. “They said, ‘why don’t people know about Spartanburg?’”
Garrison was hesitant at first, unsure if Spartanburg could handle a second brewery, joining the well-known RJ Rockers. A year later, Ciclops opened as Hub City Taphouse, home of Ciclops Cyderi & Brewery.
“The idea of taphouse, winery, brewery all under the same roof, nobody had done it. I’m just crazy enough to say hey, let’s do that,” he said.
Before the revitalization of Downtown Spartanburg gained the steam it has today, Ciclops was considered to be on the outskirts of downtown. But, Garrison said, as downtown has grown, so too has Ciclops and its fandom in Spartanburg.
Darren Burkett is one of the examples Garrison talks about. Darren, a motorcycle enthusiast, cozied up to the bar one night and chatted with a young couple simply about what they were drinking and why they liked it,” Garrison said.
“He’s doing it right,” Burkett said. “I’ve lived in Spartanburg for seven years now and up until this place opened, there was nowhere I really kind of felt like family. We’ve met so many people through the mug club, some that we interact with even outside of here. It has been great for me and my girlfriend, both.”
Doing it right, Garrison said, involves doing traditional styles well while experimenting with ideas that might scare others. Over the years, #MakingAbsurdTheNorm has become a motto of sorts at Ciclops, where you can find a crisp hefeweizen alongside a beer brewed with roasted baseball bats – yes, baseball bats.
The building, formerly home of Spartan Photo on St. John Street, recently got a new look with a fresh paint job and the addition of a garage door opening to the outdoor seating area. Garrison said the garage door in particular has long been a goal of his.
“I’ve imagined that door being there for three years,” he said. “It looks exactly like I thought it would look three years ago.”
Inside, Ciclops still sports long, wooden tables without barriers. The bar features textured metal crafted by local artist Kevin Ballew. Alongside the bar, the wall is lined with hundreds of handmade mugs, all created by a local artist.
Garrison said the mug club at Ciclops has gone a long way toward his goal of creating a real community. Spartanburgers from all backgrounds can find their taste at Ciclops, all while getting to know their fellow residents and drinkers – just like Garrison wanted.
“If you want to see the swath of Spartanburg, come hang out in here on a Friday night. You can really see Spartanburg,” he said. “We want to continue to raise awareness to community in Spartanburg, we want to break down those barriers. The thing we’ve found that breaks all those barriers is a silly little mug. It doesn’t matter; male, female, black, white, whatever; that mug breaks up all of that. That was our hope for this town.”
Prepared by Zach Fox, Spartanburg Chamber.