athens risingNews

What’s Up in Brew Development

Once known mainly for its poultry plants, industrial North Athens might soon be known for its pilsners, too. Terrapin Beer Co. is already located on Newton Bridge Road. It will soon be joined by Blockader Home Brew Supply and a new brewery, the Southern Brewing Co.

Brian Roth and Rick Goddard are anticipating opening their new brewery in a yet-to-be-determined location off the Loop in northern Athens in late January or early February—definitely, they say, in time for the Classic City Brewfest.

Roth, a graduate of the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art and resident of Oconee County, has been homebrewing since 1993 and has spent years traveling to breweries around the country and overseas to learn about beer, yeast strains, hop and grain varieties and so forth.  He says he learned that all breweries have great ideas to offer. For instance, Goose Island out of Chicago was a pioneer in barrel-aging beer, a process that Roth would like to bring to Southern Brewing. Roth, who teaches history of beer classes at UGA and Brenau University, would also like to combine ancient styles and recipes with modern practices, as Dogfish Head Brewery founder Sam Calagione does.

The Southern Brewing Co. does not yet have a set beer lineup, although, according to Roth, they would like to try out a wide variety of styles, including some fairly unusual selections, and see how it goes from there. For the first one or two years, they will be a draft brewery only, and he anticipates producing a modest 600 barrels a year. They will eventually expand into more barrels and, most likely, canned, but not bottled, beer. Regardless of whether they can or bottle, Roth says they plan to distribute only in the South and keep some specialty brews available only at the brewery.

The Southern Brewing Co. will be using only Georgia ingredients, Roth says. They are working with the UGA Extension Service to encourage more farmers to grow barley and rye varietals for Georgia breweries to use. They also plan to work with farmers markets to buy fruits and vegetables that are not “pretty” enough to sell but would work great in beer. Think bumper crops of cucumbers and tomatoes being used in beer. Roth says he is also working on a pumpkin beer and a cider made from North Georgia pumpkins and apples.


Photo Credit: Blake Aued

Evan Smith of Blockader Home Brew Supply.

For Evan Smith, owner of Blockader Home Brew Supply, a big rainstorm in late July was a game-changer for his business. When Blockader opened the next morning, Smith discovered the bank his store is built against had caved in. Instead of being on the outside of his shop, the red clay bank was now in it. Smith had been contemplating moving from the space he had rented on Broad Street for just over three years, but now his fate was sealed.

Blockader will be reopening on Wednesday, Aug. 14 at 123 Bryan Street, though you are more likely to know it as the red and white building that shares a parking lot with the Twice the Ice machine off Chase Street. The new location has a more convenient parking lot for deliveries and is a larger building with more open space and a better flow from retail to demonstration brewing. Smith, along with employees Pat Gannon and Matt Goodlett, is building a custom walk-in cooler to hold yeast, hops and draft beer.

With the new store, Smith anticipates a larger customer base due to the proximity to Terrapin. Folks who go try some tasty craft beer and take the tour are then inspired to brew their own, and they stop in to Blockader for some supplies. Just as the local restaurant scene has created a plethora of at-home gourmets, the fact that Athens is drawing new breweries and has become more craft-beer-savvy can only help the homebrewing market. Blockader also sells supplies to make wine, mead, cider, cheese and, according to Smith, is always “looking for more cool stuff to have.”

Meanwhile, Atlanta brewmasters David Stein and Adam Beauchamp have made little progress on Creature Comforts, the microbrewery that was supposed to open this month in the former Snow Tire building on Hancock Avenue downtown. It’s not clear why; Stein and Beauchamp did not respond to requests for comment.