Photo Credit: House of Brews
Discovering a Beer Mecca
Finding off the grid places is one of our favorite hobbies when traveling.
Keeping them off the grid is one of the hardest things to do. We want to maintain what we grew to love about the place and are therefore sometimes reluctant to share it with others. We don’t want to boast about all the great things and attract more people which would then taint its quaint and personal atmosphere, but this place deserves some recognition.
A few years ago, we discovered a secret gem in Mount Pleasant, SC, just a short drive across the Cooper River from downtown Charleston. This hidden palace wasn’t on any advertisements and didn’t boast a strong social media following but somehow by luck or fate, we discovered it. After missing the turn off Ben Sawyer Blvd the first few times (and still miss it to this day sometimes), we got more acclimated to spotting the sign from the road and making the turn onto a gravel drive before the Blvd merges into one lane en route to the shore. The first building you see after your turn is not what you’re looking for, unless what you’re looking for is a haircut. But if you stick to the right and head behind that first house, you will see a small, white house gently hidden away.
This is when you know you’ve found the best beer mecca in the Charleston area, House of Brews.
After summers of this being our main stop before (and after) spending a day on Sullivan’s Island Beach, we decided to sit down with owner Rob Davis and get even more personable.
We had spoken to him and the other bartenders a number of times on our previous visits. The best is when the place is quiet and you can grab a stool or two at the small bar to chat about a shared hobby. Rob was no different. We had met him a number of times and actually knew he was working before entering by recognizing his wood-panel Grand Wagoneer parked out front.
But it wasn’t until this most recent summer that we officially introduced ourselves as “Travels in Beer.” After tagging, posting, and untapping multiple times for House of Brews, Rob recognized us immediately by our beer Instagram handle and invited us in to chat.
The Framing of the House
Originally from North Carolina, Rob is no stranger to the “bar scene,” having experience with the world of alcohol from Alexandria, VA all the way to Australia, from which he learned that the biggest part of the job is talking to people. “It’s a great life skill,” he states.
Though bars in Australia were swankier and Alexandria boasted a few more opportunities to support the distribution company he worked for then, it was his love for Charleston that drove him into his next life’s endeavor. It also helped that his wife’s company was able to move her down in 2009, at which time Rob held a job for on-premise liquor sales at Ben Arnold but was constantly on the search for the perfect location for his dream job; to open his own bottle shop.
However, it wasn’t until 2011 that his wife spotted an ad on Craigslist for a lease on a house in Mount Pleasant. Previously occupied by the Department of Transportation as a base for project managers working nearby, the house was already converted into a functioning business, so on June 24, 2011, House of Brews officially opened.
Functioning not only as a bottle shop with warm and cold beer to go, but also as a “speak-easy” with a few taps and a small bar. There are also some high top tables inside, but the bier garden outside may be the chillest outdoor hang out in Charleston, with a mix of tables made from reclaimed materials, a life sized jenga set, some couches and heaters during colder weather. Chalk invites guest to share notes on the side of the house, or to allow for children to be entertained.
The Goal of House of Brews
Rob’s goal is to carry the best beer there is, all while supporting the local beer scene. “There were only 5 local breweries in 2011,” Rob shares as he explains that he always keeps local beer on tap. That number has now risen to nearly two dozen with a few more on the horizon. But Rob is an honest guy and he knows what makes beer good. “Sometimes I have to say ‘here are the flaws, work on them,'” when explaining that all the local beer may not meet House of Brews standards just yet.
But don’t presume Rob is a beer snob by any means. “If beer succeeds, we all win,” he adds on. He wants to see the local breweries succeed, and he hopes that his respectable critique will help them gain success by encouraging them to strive to make the best product they can. “The reality is that there’s a lot of bad beer out there. I never want anyone to fail, but I choose to put on tap what I like to drink,” and after having a few of our previous conversations over a delectable pint, Rob’s palate is on par and will not lead you astray, no matter what style you prefer.
Rob also uses his experience in beer and wine distribution to work with distributors across the country and world to bring a variety of unique and traditional beers into House of Brews. With one room designated for “New World” and the neighboring one designated for “Old World,” one could spend a hefty amount of time perusing the shelves.
Supporting the Community
If you ever get the chance to meet Rob, you will soon discover that he is one of the kindest people you will probably ever meet. Always with a smile on his face and handshake turned to hug when you come and go, Rob is one of those people in this world that is just innately good. This characteristic radiates through his business management as he strives to host events to support the local community.
One such event actually happens 3-4 times a year; a pig roast. This fundraiser supports Tri-County Veterans Support Network, who send 90% of all fundraiser proceeds to the people the organization is supporting. This was something Rob sought after as he wants to ensure that any money raised is being purposefully utilized.
Every year at Christmas, Rob hosts Toys for Tots and will provide your first pint free when you bring in a toy. He also sponsors a can food drive once a year.
Spreading The Word
After being in operation for over 6 years, Rob can honestly state, “You do it for the love, not to make a million dollars.” He truly loves his House of Brews and speaks to the fact that he has never used advertising to promote his business. “It was just Facebook when I started this.”
House of Brews still solely relies on the word of others. That word has certainly spread through the years as House of Brews continues to grow as a staple to the Charleston beer culture. Once you discover this beer mecca, you will certainly be back for a visit. “We don’t have one time customers,” Rob shares as he tells a story of a family that vacations in the area every summer and the three brothers that come into House of Brews every day. We too have become those regulars, making daily stops before or after a trip to the beach, and sometimes just for a quick beer run.
It is here that you will find what we, and so many others, have come to love about the Craft Beer Society; Random Acts of Kindness.
“A regular walked in one day with a Carton can for me and said, ‘My buddy just came down from New Jersey,'” Rob shared explaining how craft beer unites people in such random acts. So if you ever do stop in to meet Rob and grab a pint, don’t be afraid to bring your own hometown local brew to share, or possibly a Heady that you picked up straight from Vermont…