Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Commonhouse Aleworks in Park Circle won't open until January due to Hurricane Maria

Ale's well that ends well

Posted by Kinsey Gidick on Wed, Dec 6, 2017 at 12:35 PM

Shane Cummings, Hank Hanna, and Brian Stetson stand in front of Commonhouse Aleworks - KINSEY GIDICK
  • Kinsey Gidick
  • Shane Cummings, Hank Hanna, and Brian Stetson stand in front of Commonhouse Aleworks
Hank Hanna didn't know his Commonhouse Aleworks' electric distribution panel was being fabricated in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria hit. But it all started to make sense when he sat down with his contractor weeks after the storm after noticing a significant delay in his forthcoming brewery's electrical work. Turns out the GE plant in Puerto Rico was responsible for building the giant breaker box and, suffice it to say, it was closed indefinitely.

"I'd say internally it set us back several weeks," says Hanna. But, the eternal optimist was not defeated. The panel just arrived last week after finishing fabrication in Mexico, and now an early January 2018 grand opening seems possible. With any luck, Commonhouse will be welcoming the masses and pouring beers by the Charleston Marathon on January 13.

In the meantime, Hanna and his business partner Pearce Fleming are working to get the Park Circle brewery up and running.

Sitting on O'Hear Street, Commonhouse Aleworks sprung from a shared love of home brewing. Hanna, a serial entrepreneur, started off in web design (High Tide Media), then moved to real estate, launching, Daniel Island Rental, and Charleston Rental Properties. Fleming was his home brewing buddy and after finding success with their homemade beers — operating under the moniker Octohops the pair's German Hefeweizen got national attention, taking a gold medal at the annual Colonial Cup last year — Hanna scored a year-long "internship" at Revelry.

That vote of confidence was the push Hanna and Fleming to attempt their own brewery and they landed in Park Circle after committing to one key factor in selecting a location: "We decided it had to be in an area where people could walk, bike, take a stroller, or golf cart to get to," says Hanna. Just a block off of Montague Avenue, 4831 O'Hear Ave. was the obvious winner.

The large space is divided into three parts — the brewing area, a tap room, and a fenced in outdoor space.

"Commonhouse comes from the Colonial era and was the term for the gathering space of a community. That's what we want this to be," says Hanna. To that end, Commonhouse will be filled indoor and out with 10-foot long tables. The bar won't have seats blocking thirsty patrons. Instead, 16 taps, along with cider and a small, specially curated wine list provided by Stems & Skins, will be offered for the friends and strangers sitting together at the community tables. 

Brewing the beers will be Head Brewer Shane Cummings whose resume includes time at Stone Brewing in Escondido, California as well as being the former lead brewer at Westbrook (he's the guy behind Shane's Big DIPA).

The taproom, where Brian Stetson will run the front of house, will have a warming kitchen, but plans to rely on pop-ups and food trucks.

Look for the brewery to open early 2018.

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