Interview: brewmaster Chris Brown (Holy City Brewing)

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Photo courtesy of Chris Brown

Chris Brown is an Atlanta native and College of Charleston grad who leads brewing efforts at Holy City Brewing, a joint venture with Joel Carl, Sean Nemitz and Mac Minaudo in North Charleston. I tried several Holy City beers during my annual family-focused foray to Charleston, and subsequently learned more about Brown’s hop-fueled efforts via e-mail.

How do you divide up the brewing duties at Holy City?

My self and our assistant brewer Tim Bettencourt handle all of the brewing duties.

At what point did you know you’d work with beer for a living?

I realized that I wanted to be in brewing while living in Denver in 2007, I then got into the American Brewers Guild and got a job as an assistant brewer with Gordon Boersch in ATL.

What were you doing for a living leading up to Holy City?

I worked at GB [Gordon Biersch in Atlanta] for 2 years and then left to move back to Charleston, SC. I worked at EVO pizza as a bartender while opening HCB.

Is there anybody who mentored you along the way? If so, what did they teach you that was so valuable?

Eric Geralds, the head brewer for GB taught me everything I know with regards to technique and equipment.

What was the first beer you ever brewed, and how did it turn out?

First beer I brewed was an IPA at home in Denver. It was ok for coming from a kit.

What’s the criteria for a beer that you brew at Holy City? What does a beer have to be?

I don’t have a set criteria for beers that I brew. I brew them the way I want to drink them. I stick to style guidelines when I can but experimentation and changing them up is what makes my job fun.

What’s your top selling beer, and why do you think that’s the case?

Our top selling beer is our Pluff Mud Porter. I would have thought being the south where it is a little warmer it would be my Pilsner but Porter sells, I think, because its an easy drinking, medium bodied porter.

How do you go about naming your beers?

Coming up with beer names isn’t a very intense process. It usually involves me and Tim standing around joking until we come up with something regional or funny. Usually funny but we try to keep our names associated with Charleston when we can.

What was the most recent beer that you brewed, and what was your inspiration and approach?

The most recent was a barley wine. We have a great beer fest in Charleston every year called brewvival. We come up with new brews for it every year and this year i told Tim to come up with one. He decided on a Barley wine.

Where and what do you like to drink when you’re off duty?

I always go for something local, but if I can’t get anything I would say my go to is Dales Pale, from Oskar Blues. You can usually find me at Oak Barrel Tavern.

If you could only drink one more beer, and you couldn’t brew it, what would it be and why?

Probably Coast Black Beard Imp Stout.

Address: 4155 C Dorchester Road, North Charleston, SC 29405

Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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