PUB PARADISE

BY WENDY SWAT SNYDER | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

Duck leg cassoulet

One of Charleston’s newest brew pubs is a beer lover’s haven and so much more. In a mammoth space on Daniel Island, Dockery’s is blending innovative food, live music and craft beverages under one roof and has quickly become a hot spot for the local community and beyond. Gigantic stainless- steel brewing tanks and a bustling open kitchen compete for attention with TVs tuned to sports channels and weekly concerts. And with an on-site aeroponic farm, it’s as farm-to-table as it gets.

“We thought the island needed this,” says Dockery’s general manager, Chuck Isenberg. “A place that’s family friendly, where you don’t have to leave the island—we wanted to make it a destination.”

A destination it is. The versatile space boasts multiple a new watering hole offers cool brews, inventive food and plenty of fun dining areas, including one that can be closed off for ticketed musical performances. Outside, diners gather around rustic, flame-lit community tables on a wide patio with its own bar and a cornhole game for kids of all ages. A space above the brewing operation—for which guided tours are available—is reserved for private events.

Isenberg and executive chef Andy McLeod took over Dockery’s as operating partners a few months after the locally owned property opened in 2017. Isenberg’s tenure in the restaurant industry spans more than three decades. He spent 24 of those years with Atlanta-based Rare Hospitality Management, where he worked every operational position and helped open 75 restaurants for the group. He and McLeod form a team that includes brew master Dustin Wilson and music director Austin Poisson.

Scotch egg

“Our brewers are passionate about food and their beer,” says McLeod, who found his culinary inspiration in the kitchen of Sermet’s Corner in Charleston before joining The Indigo Road restaurant group, where he worked under chef Jeremiah Bacon of The Macintosh. “They love talking about food as much as we love drinking their beers.” At last call, Dockery’s had over 80 unique brews to its credit, and more than 15 beers on tap, with flights available for sampling.

On a mission to create elevated pub fare, both kitchen and brewing team play with flavor profiles to bring to the table the best of both worlds. “We’re working with Blue Ridge Creamery to make a signature cheese for our charcuterie board,” says McLeod. “We’re sending Dockery’s beer to the craft cheesemaker, which they use to wash and flavor the rinds.”

When my guest and I commenced our dining adventure at Dockery’s, we found the bold flavor of a reduced porter folded into whole grain mustard a great complement to our Scotch egg, a delightful invention that wraps a soft-cooked egg in finely minced sausage for a spicy, crunchy all-in-one dish.

“The sausage is house made,” explains McLeod. “All our pork comes from one pig we get in every Tuesday—we break it down into rib racks, pork chops, bacon, ham.”

Fish is sourced exclusively from Abundant Seafood, and Dockery’s pork and chicken comes from Keegan-Filion Farm. Vertical Roots grows the restaurant’s greens on-site; Growfood Carolina, and Spade and Clover Gardens provide additional produce.

Next came Sweet Florida red shrimp, seared on skewers and served with a savory cauliflower rice; then, a classic oyster po’ boy dressed with an Alabama white sauce. Both were perfectly cooked.

Loving all things duck, we were compelled to sample the duck poutine, perfectly prepared french fries slathered in a rich redeye gravy loaded with bits of duck confit and a savory cheddar curd.

We followed with the duck leg cassoulet: The classic confit produced a richly flavored piece of crunchy duck served alongside white beans braised with garlic sausage and pork belly. Our server, Chris Metcalfe, recommended an English brown ale called Acoustic to pair with these bold flavors. The crisp, medium-dark beer complemented the duck and a fork-tender brisket perfectly.

McLeod muses that for him and his team the journey has been about building Dockery’s identity through food and drink. “We hang our hats on approach rather than a single dish.”

And Isenberg says, “Everything we do is local!”

With ingredient-driven brew pub fare and a major music scene to boot, Dockery’s has it all and has made Daniel Island a Charleston destination.

Wendy Swat Snyder is a Charleston-based freelance writer.