Casey Hancock and Zach Riner, Wild Heart Brewing

Lauren Baker Downtown Stories

“I never thought I’d end up back in this building.

It was my family’s business, a feed and seed store. I worked here every day after school, every weekend, and every summer break.

This building is why my back hurts all the time.

I went to college and majored in chemistry. I always thought I’d go on to grad school until I got to my senior year of college and realized I couldn’t do it anymore: I was burned out and had headaches all the time from working with all the chemicals in the basement.

But I didn’t really know what I wanted to do next, so I moved back home and started working in the feed and seed store again.

The idea for a brewery started with my buddy Zach. He said, ‘I want to be a brewer. I don’t know how I’m going to do it but I’m going to figure out how to brew. I’m going to learn and then open a brewery.’

Zach isn’t originally from Hartsville, but he came here around 2006 and met his wife. He fell in love with the town and the vibe of Hartsville. He and his wife loved it so much, they wanted to raise their daughters in a small town like this and to open a brewery.

I said, ‘Well, that works out because you can do both of those things here in Hartsville. Let’s figure out how to make it happen.’ Zach ended up with an internship at a brewery in Myrtle Beach to learn the trade.

He had the brewing side of things covered, but of course, we needed money.

I reached out to a friend of mine who I knew was interested in a project like this. He got on board and found a few others to create a team of investors to support the project and also provide advice.

I for one am not even close to being qualified to do this, but with Zach’s expertise as a brewer, our investors helping on the business side of things, and our chef, Ryland, who has unique flavors to create our dishes, we’ve made it happen.

Hartsville needed a brewery and was ready for a brewery to call their own–not just a place to eat or have a beer, but a place to hang out and build up our community.

Our goal here at Wild Heart is to share our community’s stories and to encourage people to share their own stories.

There are so many people in town that work behind the scenes relentlessly to try to make Hartsville better. One of my favorite little sayings that I’ll borrow from one of those people is ‘Hartsville is better than it has to be.’
Our community is what it is because of the people who are here: the time and energy and thought and love they give to our city every day and we want this brewery to be a place to celebrate that.”

– Casey Hancock and Zach Riner, Wild Heart Brewing