When Scott Hansen and Brandon Perry met at the home of a mutual friend in 2008, it was an instant bromance. Both had backgrounds in the tech field, children of similar ages, and an affinity for the Lowcountry lifestyle. Their wives hit it o as well, and it wasn’t long before the two Sullivan’s Island families became intertwined, enjoying each other’s company on the beach at Station 25, and even vacationing together.
It was on a “parents only” trip to Cuba, in 2015, that the idea of Island Coastal Lager was conceived. Advised not to drink the water, they opted (mostly) for beer. It became clear that the Cuban beer market was sorely lacking; there were basically two choices, “bad and worse,” quips Perry.
A few beers later, that observation ultimately led Perry and Hansen to discern a hole, a missing link, in the American beer market. “We saw the macro-lagers, the ‘corporate beer,’ the Buds, Coors and Coronas. They’re made for and consumed by the masses, full of corner-cutting ingredients and fillers,” explains Perry. “And we saw the crafts, oftentimes heavy and hoppy,” continues Hansen. They tag-team their story, frequently interrupting each other. They decided to craft a lager and are growing what’s destined to become a national brand right here on Sullivan’s. They're living their dream and their enthusiasm is infectious.
Hansen and Perry are deadly serious, however, about even the most minuscule detail of their brand. Take the can, for instance. e duo commandeered the Ball Canning Facility in Denver, Colorado, for a day in August 2017, relentless in the attainment of the perfect hue for their can’s signature Caribbean blue rim.
Of course, it’s the contents of that can that count. Lager is the hardest type of beer to make, taking three times as long as ales, stouts and IPAs. e laagering process involves cool fermentation and a 30-day period of cold storage to attain the desired clarity. “ICL has nothing to ‘hide behind,’” Hansen says. “Other beer can disguise flaws with strong flavors,” a‑ rms Perry.
“Brandon and Scott worked hard to blend big picture and attention to detail,” says Lee Deas, of Obviouslee Marketing, who manages ICL’s marketing and publicity. “They saw a need for a quality beer without all the additives that most have and were able to bring that to life with Island Coastal Lager,” Deas says.
ICL debuted in October 2017 at Mex 1, where 500 or so Sullivan’s Islanders showed their support by packing the local cantina well beyond capacity. e partners successfully attained distribution throughout a substantial portion of the Southeast within a matter of months. And if that hasn’t kept them hopping, e Island Taproom, their flagship open-air bar, opened this May on Shem Creek. “We’ve appended the Shem Creek Inn,” explains Hansen, “an underutilized space.” In keeping with the Lowcountry lifestyle, plenty of public dock space enables arrival by boat, kayak and paddle board.
Despite the relaxed, #TakeItEasy attitude embodied by Island Coastal Lager, “Brandon and Scott bring high-octane energy to the business. They are full of passion and hustle, and have a strong vision,” says Deas. Although they haven’t been approached by a “macro” brand such as Heineken, they know it’s a possibility. However, in the next breath Hansen says, “We have so much more to do. We would be cheating ourselves if we didn’t see it through.”
“We set out to make a beer that we wanted to drink ourselves,” says Perry. “ e fact that people love it and are asking for it is the most humbling, and perhaps most gratifying part of our journey.”
- Mimi Wood, Photos by Steve Rosamilia