Appalachian Ale House

By Kathleen Nalley / Photography By Erik Moore | February 07, 2017
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Appalacian Ale House features lots of reclaimed wood and metal in its design, creating a warm, cozy atmosphere.

When the Pickens Revitalization Association announced a Main Street Challenge to attract new businesses to its historic downtown district, Lauren Willis and business partner Kimberly Smagala, “decided to enter on a whim.”

“We didn’t necessarily have experience in the food and beverage industry,” Willis admits. “But we love craft beer, and with the Doodle Trail, the lakes and mountains and so many reasons to visit Pickens, we knew the town was overdue for a place like this.”

A place like this is the Appalachian Ale House, a speakeasy-style pub located in a dimly lit basement of an historic building on Main Street in Pickens.

Appalachian Ale House features a rotating selection of exceptional craft beers, many from the Carolinas and Georgia, as well as wine and appetizers sourced from a nearby bakery, Martha’s Marvelous Munchies. Think of pairing a Southern Barrel Brewing Slippery Slope Double IPA with homemade bacon & cheddar biscuit bites with jalapeno pimento cheese. Or a Ballast Point Mocha Marlin Porter with Carolina grass-fed beef jerky.

Additionally, the Ale House often features live music by local acts like the Rocky Bottom Boys or Chris Gill and the Skullcaps. They’ve even hosted a popular yoga and wine event.

Photo 1: The speakeasy-style bar is located in the basement of a 1898 building.
Photo 2: Nothing shakes the Saturday afternoon doldrums like a sampler of craft beers and a basket of bacon and cheddar biscuit bites and jalepeno pimento cheese, provided by Martha’s Marvelous Munchies just down the street.

The $10,000 grant money Willis and Smagala were awarded from the Challenge allowed necessary renovations to the old Morris building, originally the Alexander Feed & Seed dating back to 1898. Their original renovation plans called for creating a business center and shared office space (Morris on Main) and the pub, using the basement of the building for needed storage space.

“But the space spoke to us. We asked ourselves, ‘what about having the ale house down here?’” says Willis. “The decision was made. It just worked.”

Not ones to mess around, the partners won the Challenge in May, completed renovations over the summer, obtained their liquor license on a Friday, and opened the Ale House to eager customers just days later.

“Appalachian Ale House, a name inspired by a Saturday visit to Hagood Mill, pays homage to the history of this place, the traditions folks value and that will remain here, no matter how many new businesses crop up,” says Willis.

“Pickens is a tight-knit community,” says Willis. “When we needed help in setting up distributors, Elizabeth McDaniel of LaRue Fine Chocolate stepped in. When we needed help with the liquor license, Brook Bristow guided the way. When the new porcelain sink fell out of the truck and broke before we could install it, our local hardware store provided the galvanized bucket for our bathroom, which has become a conversation piece! And when we opened our doors, folks came to check us out and continue to come back. We really couldn’t do what we do without the strong support of this community.”

Appalachian Ale House
205 East Main Street
Tuesday-Thursday, 4-9pm
Friday-Saturday, noon-10pm

Manager Jared Little pours a pint from one of the bar’s artistic spouts.
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