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Back to Basics:
Freehouse, Organics, and the Science of “Sessionable” Beer

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Photo courtesy of Freehouse Brewery ClickThru_housepilsnermalt Photo courtesy of Freehouse Brewery
Photo courtesy of Freehouse Brewery

Arthur Lucas is a smart guy. Really smart. Before going into brewing, he worked alternately as a management consultant, a policy advisor to a congressman on capital hill, and an international relations advisor to the US commander in Korea. He has a law degree and has lived abroad in the UK, Egypt, India and Korea. So when Arthur starts to talk about size-to-efficiency ratio in the brewing industry and the historic influences of particular ales, I realize we aren’t talking about your run-of-the-mill brewing operation.

“This is far from perfect but it’s a lot closer to reflecting what I’m about,” explains Lucas talking about his career transition. “I really believe in the way I think beer should go: local, fresh, you know…the closer you are to your brewery the better.”

And Freehouse Brewery is a reflection of those beliefs. They are one of the few breweries in the South to be seeking a USDA Organic certification, an expensive and time-consuming effort that requires a host of procedural adherences and paperwork. Most of Freehouse’s equipment was made in America by local, what Lucas refers to as “artisan,” manufacturers, many of whom he knows by name. Because he is sourcing dozens of small operations rather than shipping in larger, pre-fabricated systems, Lucas and his head brewer, Devin, have had to hand assemble the entire operation, often building or modifying essential components like plumbing. The result is a work of art. Standing in the warehouse, everything I can see speaks to made-to-order craftsmanship; the bar is reclaimed wood from a SC farmhouse, the walk-in cooler was built onsite, the porch overlooking the marsh and the Ashley River is still in progress—Lucas wants to cover it with vines and greenery.

Watching Lucas handle spices, or check on his equipment, I can’t imagine him as a corporate lawyer. All I see is a brewer. And I have a sneaking suspicion that might be to the benefit of beer drinkers everywhere.

“It’s not rocket science but for some reason it seems like not many people are focusing on the elements and the fundamentals,” Lucas says, nodding. “That’s kind of what we’re about, the fundamentals and just enjoying the Lowcountry marsh.”

Look for the following Freehouse Brews to start cropping up around Charleston by late November:

Ashley Farmhouse Ale / A dry Belgian, Saison-style beer around 5% alcohol. Expect notes of rye with a bit of spiciness in the background. Not too hoppy and great for pairing with Lowcountry cuisine and fried foods.

Green Door IPA / A moderate IPA inspired by some of the English Breweries that Lucas has seen adopting American hops but incorporating them into a more sessionable (drink more than one a sitting) beer. ‘Green Door’ refers to Freehouse Brewery’s big green entranceway, but is also a reference to their organic policies.

Bridgetown Stout / A Belgian style stout in honor of Charleston’s many bridges and the historical influence Bridgetown, Barbados had on the holy city. Styled off a West Indies Porter, the Bridgetown Stout will be “export strength,” with a slightly higher alcohol content at around 6%.