I can’t say exactly when or where I met Clay, but I knew when I did that he was one of a kind — the kind of person who captivates a room and puts a smile on everyone’s face. I knew I wasn’t alone in my observations. The more people I meet who know Clay, the more apparent it becomes that he is without a doubt a rock star in the brewing community.
“Clay is full of energy and when you meet him, it feels like you’ve made an instant friend,” said Kara Straub, a colleague at Holy City Brewing. “He’s passionate about the things that matter most to him and will draw you in with his engaging smile and contagious laugh.”
Born and raised in Mount Pleasant, Clay graduated from Wando High School and began his career in craft brewing soon afterwards. With stints at the Whole Foods specialty department and Bottles Mount Pleasant, Clay eventually landed at Commonhouse Aleworks behind the bar. It was here that Clay began frequenting other breweries and building relationships.
“The first three things that come to mind about Clay are that he always finds a reason to dance, anywhere and everywhere,” said Ryan Hetzer, taproom manager of Commonhouse Aleworks. “He is a kind soul who will lighten the mood with his outgoing personality and joyous laugh. And if he thinks a food dish or beer is delicious, he’ll be sure to tell you it’s ‘bussin’.’ ”
After working a couple of years at Commonhouse came an opportunity to grow with one of Charleston’s largest beer brands, Holy City Brewing, as a sales representative.
“He’s been great for Holy City Brewing,” said owner Chris Brown. “He’s so outgoing and can jump into any situation with anyone and talk beer and make friends.”
When I began thinking about who would be a great option to help with HOPS, I immediately thought of Clay. If there is anyone else in the community who has a pulse on what is happening in beer, it’s Clay. And I’m grateful to say, he was interested! So here we are bringing you a little bit of history on the happiest man in local beer. And we’re publishing Clay’s first article, “Comfort in craft.
“I would love to see more diversity in the beer community, plain and simple. The rich history of the Geechee/Gullah people is the root of Charleston’s culture and it needs to be celebrated,” Clay said.
I asked what he would be doing if he wasn’t in beer. “Honestly, I don’t see myself doing anything else. I don’t have a backup plan. I’m all in, this is all I know. Beer is life.”
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