The all-new Grand Strand Brewing Co. is making beer at the beach and bringing downtown Myrtle Beach back to life
Brewing beer isn’t difficult, it’s deliberate.
That’s the philosophy (and words) of Clayton Burrous, owner of the brand-new Grand Strand Brewing Co. (GSB). This isn’t just a brewery, it’s the catalyst to the exciting revitalization coming to downtown Myrtle Beach.
Open since late March, GSB gives a breath of fresh air into Nance Plaza, overlooking the sprawling lawn where the oceanfront Pavilion once hummed with life and laughter. Now, the cheery red-brick building is fronted by a newly laid lawn of turf grass busy with cornhole boards, oversized yard games, Adirondack chairs, rows of picnic tables and a live band stage. I happened to visit GSB on their grand opening day and the vibe was fun and festive, with families and groups of all ages gathered inside and out, pints in hand.
“Business has been really good so far,” says Burrous. “Most of our problems have been associated with the busy part of it, actually. The coolest part about doing what we’re doing is that there were a lot of people that had opinions about the area that we’re located in, and they may not have been wrong, or they had stereotypes about the area–that it was dangerous… And you look at it now and what we’ve done to the property and what the city has started to do around the area and the kind of buzz that it’s created. It’s just a totally different environment now that you have people coming from all over the two-county footprint to come drink our beer.”
Led by head brewer Christophe Perdu, 29, originally from northern Virginia, the GSB craft beer menu boasts about a dozen beers (with more to come) brewed onsite in the massive tanks you can see behind the floor-to-ceiling glass windows. A few of their taps include the Rainy Day Hefeweizen, a golden-yellow wheat beer, with a fine-poured white top, smells of cloves and a refreshing banana finish; the Airbrush, a Hazy IPA; the Saint Barbara, an Abbey Style ale; the Crescent Sour, a Kettle Sour; the Small Wave session IPA; Sandy Cheeks, a West Coast IPA; and the Beach Santa Mint Stout.
“There are more than 8,000 craft breweries out there in the United States and very few secret recipes,” says Burrous. “You just have to invest in what’s important to you, so we invested in good equipment, good water treatment, and good talent. We’re investing in all of the right kind of raw materials because we need to make good beer–the best beer that we can possibly make… It’s also this kind of self-reflection analysis to be hard on ourselves and ask if is this as good as we can make it. And I would say right now, even though the beer has been really well received, the beers are going to get better and we’re committed to making the beer better.”
The GSB birth plan began in 2018. Burrous, a native of Charleston, comes with an extensive background in distribution and the brewery industry. Right after graduating from the University of South Carolina, he worked at a Coca-Cola distributor based in Jacksonville, Florida, for two years, followed by an Anheuser-Busch distributor (Pearlstine, which then became Southern Eagle) in Charleston for six years, during which time he worked his way up to district sales manager at 28 years old. Burrous then had an opportunity to work for Palmetto Brewing Company in Charleston, running the bottling line.
“I’ve been very fortunate to find myself in all of these places and all these positions through different scenarios,” he says. “And I had really awesome owners who gave me the opportunity to learn the business, make mistakes, and learn from the mistakes.”
Burrous says he and his partners also learned a lot about geographical areas and that Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand were a little underserved with local breweries.
“We saw a real need and we talked to a lot of people with the city, we talked to a lot of retailers and we talked to a lot of local residents and they all gave us the same feedback and that was that they really wanted to have the brewery experience and the brewery culture that so many other towns and cities in our country have,” says Burrous. “And couple that with the city’s vision to revitalize downtown, the City of Myrtle Beach is a huge reason why we did this.”
Real conversations about the brewery between Burrous and his business partners began in spring 2018, followed by research into and decisions on how it could happen in all facets, including financial support… And then COVID-19 shattered the dreams of many aspiring small business owners.
“We thought, ‘Are we going to really do this? Are we not?’” says Burrous. “There were lots of emotion and opinions. But then I remember having a conversation deciding not to bail on this and to keep going and see what happens. So, we’re really lucky that it turned out the way it did. And we have a real sense of obligation to create that place people wanted.”
In addition to brew, GSB also offers a bar food menu crafted by Sean Kobos of Crafty Rooster and Chanti’s Pizza fame in Conway. Items may expand, rotate or update, but for now, they’re serving a variety of wings, beer cheese fries, beer-battered chicken tenders, burgers, brats, fish and chips, and more.
Burrous, the distribution expert, has also been partnering with the craft beer team at Better Brands to slowly “trickle out” some of GSB’s products to area bars and restaurants in the near future. He has also leaned on the knowledge and experience of David Epstein, owner of New South Brewing in Myrtle Beach.
“Dave started making beer way before it was cool, man, especially in South Carolina,” says Burrous. “He’s kind of been the gatekeeper of craft beer in Myrtle Beach for over two decades. So, when we were planning the brewery, we stopped by [New South] and talked to Dave and his staff and they were so welcoming and excited to have us there. He was actually in our brewery two days ago having a beer with his wife. Guys like him were total pioneers for beer in our state. We’re grateful for all that he’s contributed.”
Additional GSB amenities include a regular rotation of live music outside and 10 gorgeous studios above the brewery remodeled by the owners of the building and available to reserve via Airbnb. According to Burrous, the units are booked fast.
Since Burrous and his family moved to Myrtle Beach from Charleston in September 2020, he says he ultimately wants to contribute to the downtown community revival.
“We also want to contribute good beer in Myrtle Beach and we’re trying to create a really positive culture, where you can build careers in this industry,” he says.
GSB is located at 819 North Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach.
For more information on upcoming events, hours and new beer tappings, visit them on Facebook at facebook.com/grandstrandbeerco or grandstrandbrewing.com or call 843-839-2801. To book a condo upstairs, visit https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/48339152.