We started out in a public square in Charleston, tagging along after a fellow dressed in pirate get-up, and made our first stop at a pub. We ordered brews -- I had a White Thai, a local Belgian-inspired beer made with lemongrass and ginger root. We drank out back in the courtyard, amid the ruins of an old bank vault, as the pirate told us about the history of the Blind Tiger Pub and the state Prohibition-type laws that gave the pub its name.
At our next pub stop, Griffon, we heard a tale about a pirate, Anne Bonney, who set sail from Charlestown disguised as a man, and at the next, South End, about the man who hanged himself on the third floor of the building. Then we went up to South End's third-floor bar. Whaddya mean, his ghost never left the building? Did that chair just move on its own?
We were on an Oktoberfest walking tour of Charleston's historic pubs (a slightly different version of the tour is available year-round), and there was plenty of fodder for our visits to four pubs. In one of North America's oldest cities -- and a port city at that -- even the taverns have colonial-era histories.
The tour was scheduled to run from 5-8p.m., and our pirate-guide, Mike Coker, told us it's often closer to 8:30, depending on how much we eat at the pubs and how much he talks. Mike knows his local history -- he's written a couple books on Charleston -- and was quite entertaining. Plus, we were a congenial group. So by 8:30, we were just arriving at pub no. 4, Tommy Condon's.
Click here for information on the Charles Towne Pub Stroll. Unless you've been in training, four beers plus some pub food is plenty to consume. Don't kid yourself that you can walk it all off that night. But the tales are calorie-free.