BEER in Pickens
Last weekend, Jan, Joss, and I brought a load of dolls and furniture from Hilton Head Island to a storage facility near our Clemson house. After a morning of hauling, organizing, and stacking, we decided the successful work deserved a long break. Jan and Joss wanted to visit downtown Pickens. I hadn’t been there in many years and hadn’t even considered venturing that far, but they insisted I needed to see the changes going on in my former hometown. Specifically, they touted The Appalachian Alehouse, a craft beer bar right in the middle of downtown. Although the concept of a trendy enterprise like that in Pickens seemed beyond my grasp, the bonus of traveling up scenic Highway 11sweetened the deal. We decided it was worth the drive.
I first came to Pickens 58 years ago, when we decided to build a textile plant in this town. Our family moved to Pickens in 1967. Every evening after work, I liked to drink a beer and watch the evening news. Beer was hard to find in Pickens back then, and the concept of a craft beer alehouse was decades away. The only downtown bar I remember was Bobby Garren’s, but I wasn’t part of the crowd frequenting that establishment.
Designed to look a bit like a 1920’s speakeasy, the Appalachian Alehouse is a basement bar accessed right off the downtown sidewalk, then down a flight of stairs. Serving a variety of craft beers with local hors d’oeuvres, the tiny bar is not what I expected: brick walls with old timey photos, recessed spaces between the bricks turned into drinking nooks, a few tables, and a great little counter at the end.
We told our bartender, Jacob, we wanted to try some beers but were also looking for more food than hors d’oeuvres. He suggested we get sandwiches from nearby Gatehouse Restaurant (owned by his parents), located just beyond the back entrance. We headed that way, snaking through the nicely appointed basement area, and found two more neat rooms, one of which emptied out onto the back lot. The Gatehouse was just a short walk across that lot and under the water tower. The server said she’d deliver our order to the Alehouse, so we went back and, after ordering our beer flights, took over the back room.
The world is changing, even in the Bible-belt towns like Pickens. If I hadn’t seen this place myself, I wouldn’t have believed it was there. While we ate our delicious Gatehouse BLTS and drank our beer flights (my first, where samples of beer are served in tasting glasses), I felt I was in a major urban city.
Congratulations to those who have built this place!