Savannah is getting a beer production facility very soon. A few are coming on line in the immediate future, but Southbound is one of the first. Just west of downtown Savannah on Bay Street, you will get a first taste of these guys no later than Summer. Here is some of my chat with Carly Wiggins. Director of Marketing.
Who are the principles? You, Smith? What are your ages? How long have you known each other.
Southbound is an LLC with several partners/investors, but Smith (Brewmaster) and I (Marketing Director) are the ones who are considered its “founders”.
Smith and I grew up together in Statesboro. We’ve known each other since we were toddlers and even went to preschool together. When it came time to pick a college in 2004 we were both accepted to Georgia Tech. We went to view the school together and I’m pretty sure we just looked at each other and said, “I’ll go if you go.” Smith received a degree in Business and I received two degrees, one in Business with a Marketing Concentration and one in Industrial Design.
While we were there we both started working at Sweetwater Brewing Company. Smith had already been home brewing and began working on the bottling line about a year after I began working tours and events. That led him to realize his dream in opening his own brewery. Smith was accepted into the fall 2009 class of The Seibel Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois and Doemens Academy in Munich, Germany. After obtaining an International Diploma in Brewing Technology from the World Brewing Academy, Smith returned to Sweetwater as one of their brewers and simultaneously started working on his MBA at Georgia Southern through online classes.
Soon after his third year at Sweetwater he was hired on as the Head Brewer and first employee of a start-up brewery, moving his brewing career to Charleston, South Carolina. Once a the brewery decided to expand Smith let me know and I joined the company as their second employee running marketing, events, and tours. It was there when we were working those longs hours we realized how well we really together. Smith asked me to join in on his dream to open his own brewery. We began working immediately looking for spaces, finalizing the business plan, and finding investors. It’s been almost two years since we began the long journey, but the time has truly flown. Its so exciting to be able to do something we love on our own at the young age of 27.
We hired on Alex Breard as a Brewer once we made the official move down to Savannah. Alex attended The Siebel Institute of Technology where he earned an International Diploma in Brewing Technology and where he met Smith. He graduated from Clemson University. Which is obviously better than some technical schools. While attending Clemson, Alex worked on the packaging line at Heavy Seas (formerly Clipper City).
How many beers on day one? Names? Describe them?
We will start off with three year round beers upon opening.
Sun King Belgian Wit – Our refreshingly crisp Belgian Witbier a good representation of this classic style. A combination of coriander and citrus peel provides a pleasant tart-lemon aroma and orange-citrus flavor.
Hops: Czech Saaz OG:12 ABV:5% IBU: 15 SRM:5
Hop’lin IPA – This is a smooth, medium bodied American IPA with huge dry hopping. The intense citrus/pine aroma and taste is accompanied with a slight hint of caramel.
Hops: Centennial, Cascade, Amarillo, Magnum OG:16 ABV:6.5% IBU:65 SRM:8
Revolution Pale Ale – Our sessionable version of the popular American Pale Ale is sure to be a real crowd pleaser. Its strong citrus hop aroma and flavor is perfectly balanced with a medium body and unique malt bill.
Hops: Chinook, Cascade, Centinneal, Columbus OG:12.5 ABV:5.3% IBU:40 SRM:7
There is a music angle. What is it?
Music is a huge part of our lives. Smith and I have grown up playing music our entire lives. Its something that we cherish deeply and have traveled many places to see hundreds of bands. Music is an inspiration for our creativity which we believe is shown through our beer. You will notice each of the three year round brews has a musicial influence in its name. The rest of the future beers to come on deck will have the same style. Its been exceedingly fun coming up with the names for our beers as well as the labels.
Can you tell me how much this operation has cost? I assume over a million.
In total the cost of purchasing the building, construction, having state of the art custom made equipment designed and manufactured has been a little over 2 million dollars. We have a four vessel 30- barrel brewing system and five 60 barrel fermentation tanks. To put that in perspective, a barrel of beer is equal to two kegs. Our brewing facility is about 12,500 square feet and has incredible 35 ft. tall ceilings to accommodate our large tanks. Initially we will be kegging our beers only, but the place has plenty of room for us to expand into other forms of packaging later.
Savannah was almost our immediate choice. It’s close to our hometown of Statesboro, which is a huge plus for our families. The city itself is known nationwide for its tourism and hospitality. When looking closer into the city we knew the only other brewing facility was Moon River, which is a brewpub. We saw this as an opportunity to bring a production facility into town. A Brewpub is a restaurant-brewery that sells 25% or more of its beer on site. The beer is brewed primarily for sale in the restaurant and bar. In Georgia they are limited to producing up to 10,000 barrels of beer a year. Southbound Brewing Company will be a production only microbrewery. A microbrewery is a brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels of beer per year. In the state of Georgia 100% of its beer must be sold off-site by a distributor. We have an agreement with United Distributing so we will produce the beer, they will pick it up and then they will sell it to off site accounts. This is known as the traditional three-tier system, brewer to wholesaler to retailer to consumer. We also are not limited to how many barrels of beer we can produce each year.
We are also fortunate enough to have a contract brewery, Coastal Empire producing beer for Savannah. Contract Brewing is a business that hires another brewery to produce its beer. I know that they will soon have a physical facility in Savannah and we are looking forward to creating some incredible collaboration beers with both them and Moon River. The craft beer mentality is essentially the more the merrier. We want to work together to create awareness about the craft beer industry to help continue its growth. The Brewers Association defines a craft brewer as “small, independent and traditional,” and the United States is home to 2,286 of them — the most since before Prohibition. Our focus is experimentation with new flavors and consistently getting high-quality beers to the consumer.