It is hard to believe it has been six months already, but at the same time, it's even harder to believe it has only been 6 months considering everything that has happened. We opened our doors April 23rd, 2014 for a soft opening to the public, and I want to say we had no idea what we were doing, but honestly, our team did amazing then and continue to do amazing today. If there is one thing I look back over the last six months and I am proud of, it is our team, our family here at the brewery.
Our brewers simply put are amazing. They make the highest quality, best tasting beer and they do it consistently. They are never satisfied, always trying to figure out how to do things better, how to get more aroma, better control the souring, further dry out a beer, . . . it is never ending, I get tired just listening to them contemplate. They are absolute rock stars, and I was so proud to see them get recognized for that fact at the Great American Beer Festival, where they won a bronze for American-Style Brett beer. To put that award in perspective, the winners in that category last year were Wicked Weed, Russian River, and Crooked Stave. If you don't know who those breweries are, that's okay, I didn't know them all that well 6 months ago, but you should find out because there are so many unreal breweries out there pushing the envelop on beer, and getting engulfed in that culture, is worth the journey.
It is still surreal to know that for this year at GABF, we actually beat breweries that we admire and that we did it in our first year, . . .in our first 5 months of operations. I know that might sound a bit arrogant, but when it comes to talking about our brewers, Adam, David, and Blake, I am okay with sounding arrogant, because they are that good, and I know their beer will back me up. I would be remiss to not also mention Drew, because it doesn't matter how well you brew the beer, if you screw it up with unsanitary cellar conditions, and our cellarman Drew, simply put crushes every single day. The final part of our production team back there is Jamie, and if not for Jamie helping us maintain our equipment, package our products, and do everything else that is asked of him, we could not do what we do here. So thank you guys!
The other major part of our team are the amazing tour staff that people meet when they come to our brewery. Led by Katie, who really holds this place together, we have bar none the best tour staff anywhere. They all come voluntarily to beer school every other Monday for two hours to learn more about beer and brewing, they all got certified as Cicerone Beer Servers, and I have no doubt that some will get further certifications down the road. They make our brewery a family friendly environment, a place of learning, a place of positive energy, a place for enjoying finely balanced artisanal beers and equally good camaraderie and conversation. I am extremely grateful for what they do every day, and I know I can never tell them that enough, so thank you all as well.
Another aspect of our business is when we get the privileged to host private events. Katie oversees this business too, and we have Shannon who runs it day to day, meeting with people, showing them the space, talking to them about our home and our business. Our events are staffed by the same group of wonderful employees that work our tours, and they have really done a great job of pulling off wonderful events, ranging from birthday parties, to office parties, to University events, business presentations, and weddings. So thank you to everyone who plays a role in making this the premier event facility in Athens.
Finally we have our Quality team. A lot of breweries start hiring sales people when they want to grow . . . we decided to higher a quality team, because we know that growing sales is pointless, if the quality of the product getting served is below expectations. So a huge thank you to Brannen, who is our lone wolf, wandering the streets of Athens with his tool kit in hand, helping ensure that the retail accounts of Athens are able to pour our products perfectly by fixing draft systems and educating staffs. He makes sure that the there is no gap between the quality of product coming out of the brewery and the quality of the product coming out of the tap, and for that I am personally grateful.
It has really been a wonderful journey over the last six months. I've gotten to work with our team to design cans, design logos, improve our tour space, start our barrel program, brew beer, come up with beer ideas, come up with merchandise designs, buy a canning line, throw our first industry party, expand distribution into Atlanta, host great events, hire new staff, start building a culture, get involved in our legislative agenda (you can help), walk on stage to accept a GABF Medal for American-Style Brett Beer, secure distribution for our brands, build great relationship with local accounts, meet amazing people, throw a killer industry party, and most importantly, be a part of an amazing team of people dedicated to following our passion and building a great company that allows us to enjoy the creature comforts of life every day.
We are getting to live our dream, we are getting to do what we have always wanted to do, and I cannot thank my family at home who support me and love me, our staff, our accounts, our distributor, and the amazing people who take their hard earned money and choose to purchase our products and support our brewery. The next six months are going to be amazing, I know a lot of what is coming already, and I can assure you that it is exciting. If anyone asks you what's going on with the GA beer scene, you should let them know, that when it comes to beer . . . "the south's got something to say!"
Stay curious and chase your dreams,