[embed-2] A banker by day, Rutledge Baker says to keep the creative juices flowing, he focuses on his hobbies after hours. “I’m a terrible skateboarder and bass player, and I’m an OK tennis player — brewing seemed like the most viable option.”
For the past five years, Baker has been brewing small (really, really small) batch brews at his Elliotborough home, using the driveway as a brewery and his guest bathroom as storage. When he outgrew the bathtub, Baker says his friends at Freehouse Brewery allowed him to come in and brew in their space. “They believe in me and believe in our product,” says Baker.
Taking an alternative approach to the big, splashy brewery opening, Baker is starting with a tiny taproom, equipped with one long bar, nine taps, and only a dozen seats.
He’s dubbed that project Guilded Horn, set to open at 267 Rutledge Ave. next year.
“I really love what’s happening in Elliotborough, and I knew I wanted to be in the neighborhood, somewhere walkable, bike-able, where you can grab a growler to go on the way to a barbecue sort of thing,” says Baker.
After shopping around his idea, Baker connected with Flyway S.C., a local construction/development/real estate company that focuses on “sustainable design models within urban growth corridors.”
Baker says he knew Flyway president Lindsay Nevin was involved with the restoration of a cool 1890s build in his neighborhood. “I knew that space had been vacant for years, I approached him and said, ‘Hey, is this leased out?'” Turns out between some second story condos and new restaurant Chasing Sage (set to open late 2019), most of the building was occupied. Except for a small sliver.
“I just fell in love with it,” says Baker. At 240 square feet, the site of Guilded Horn craft beer and wine bar is about the size of a studio apartment.
On his website, Baker explains why he chose this name: “Cornucopia, also known as the Horn Of Plenty, dates back to ancient Greece and symbolizes abundance. The motif originated as a curved goat’s horn overflowing with grain and fruit. It is emblematic of the horn possessed by Zeus’ nurse, the Greek nymph Amalthaea. In our story, the horn is filled with grains, hops, and yeast (beer) and is used to nourish all those that drink from the vessel. As the liquid overflows, the horn appears to be gilded … hence the name, Guilded Horn. The spelling is a nod to Dr. John’s song I Walk on Guilded Splinters, which is based on a traditional voodoo church song.”
A far cry from most traditional brewery set-ups, Guilded Horn will fill a drinking niche in the city, Baker hopes.
“The concept with the taproom is an eclectic mix of craft beer with a retail component to it including a reach-in and room temp stuff. We’ll have nine things on draft with three using nitrous taps — a rose, cold brew coffee, and one beer — all the beers will be local, and I’ll have one beer on tap if I’m lucky,” he laughs.
Baker is brewing a barrel at time, about a batch a month. His interest lies in off-the-beaten path flavor profiles, the funky saisons and goses and grisettes. “I love to cook so I use recipe development from that angle.”
[embed-4] Guilded Horn has its sights set on a January opening — “So, March, probably,” jokes Baker — starting out with nightly service from 4-11 p.m. They’ll share a hallway and two bathrooms with Chasing Sage, which Baker considers an added boon. “I think it will be good for both of us obviously, there will be a lot of reciprocity opportunities.”
Guilded Horn may be small, but as the name implies, they’ll be mighty. In addition to the onsite and to-go libations, they’ll have a popcorn machine, 100 CD jukebox, and perhaps most exciting, free WiFi and plenty of outlets. “I want to make it as comfortable as possible so if you want to come knock out some work and have some beers, that’s great too.” Local artist Craig Linberg’s oil on canvas paintings will also be for sale.
When asked what that first unicorn Guilded Horn tap will be, Baker goes with his American pale ale brewed with honey, jalapenos, and grapefruit, “that one can turn over much quicker.”
His slow burn beers include a Flanders Red brewed with wild yeast strains aging in High Wire Distilling sorghum whiskey barrels and a sour Belgian stout also aged in whiskey barrels. Baker also says he he’s excited to eventually introduce a “native series” of beers, grisettes brewed with native plants like red bay and hibiscus.
While most passionate home brewers tackle the build-out of a brewery first, Baker is happy to lay the groundwork with his slip of a space.
“It’s a way for me to get the beer into the market and a way to also showcase other folks, that’s one thing I love about this industry it is so reciprocal and supportive,” says Baker. “I don’t think we’re saturated either. My buddy at Holy City once said, ‘There’s always room in the market for another good beer.'” Love Best of Charleston? Help the Charleston City Paper keep Best of Charleston going every year with a donation. Or sign up to become a member of the Charleston City Paper club.
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