Creatures Comforts marks half a year with swift growth
By Joe Youorski
When Katie and Adam Beauchamp got engaged, they knew it was not a matter of if they would run their own brewery, only when. Adam, a UGA grad, dropped out of his genetics Ph.D program and began volunteering at Atlanta’s Sweetwater Brewing Company, learning all he could. Katie waited tables to support them.
“The transition was the most difficult part,” said Adam Beauchamp, one of the founders of Creature Comforts Brewery. “I was confident that I would do well just because I saw how much success people were having in craft beer, but having to tell your parents you weren’t going to cure cancer, dropping out of a program where your school was paid for and you were getting paid for your work… It certainly wasn’t easy, and I didn’t make light of that.”
Now, inside the former Snow Tire Company building on Pulaski Street, a small team of workers piled stacks of cans full of craft beer toward the ceiling. Creature Comforts Brewing Co., the company the Beauchamps helped found, has been operating in Athens for a little more than six months and is far from slowing down with cans released on Nov. 10.
The cans have begun solely in Athens, but in February, the company will be equipped with new fermenters, allowing Creature Comforts to send cans into Atlanta as well.
The company was started when investors approached David Stein to open a brewery in Athens, who at the time was becoming known for home brews. Stein brought on Adam Beauchamp who worked at Sweetwater and the team moved to Athens to begin work on the brewery in 2013. Chris Herron came on from Connecticut as CEO and renowned home brewer Blake Tyers rounded out the team.
Creature Comforts was placed into the former Snow Tire Company building and renovated. The space, though originally meant for a different purpose, served perfectly for what the team had in mind.
“It’s got great bones,” said Katie Beauchamp. “We all joke that it was always meant to be a brewery.”
A room used to store tires proved to be the perfect room for barreling and the thick, brick walls keep the temperature of the space cool. Adam Beauchamp put his science background to work and turned a waiting room into a lab for experimenting with new brews as well as alternative options such as kombucha and soda and for monitoring yeast samples.
Despite contending with the presence of the popular Terrapin Beer Company., Katie Beauchamp feels that having multiple breweries in town is far from a bad thing and also looks forward to what the forthcoming Southern Brewing Company will have to offer.
“There are a lot of other breweries opening, but we just feel that instead of viewing it as competition, it’s nice to see more craft brews,” said Katie Beauchamp. “We work together as craft breweries, especially to try to get the laws changed.”
While Georgia’s populace has been kind to the brewery, the state’s laws have proven constricting. Breweries in Georgia are banned from selling directly to consumers, whether it be on site or to go, due to laws from around the era of Prohibition. Breweries have to sell a glass and then offer free beer samples.
Craft breweries are a rising industry in Georgia, jumping up to 34 breweries in the past few years. However, compared to states with more relaxed laws on breweries, that number is low.
“Even though we do have a couple big breweries like Sweetwater and Terrapin, we don’t have the brewing industry that we should have if you looked at the national average,” said Nancy Palmer, executive director of the Georgia Brewers Guild.
According to the Guild, Georgia should have around 75 breweries due to its population. Georgia is one of five states that prohibit brewers from selling directly.
“Even though Georgia makes it difficult, we feel proud that we were able to open a brewery here and that we’ve been operating thus far under the laws and doing alright,” said Katie Beauchamp.
The company has worked to create a community focus, opening the space for wedding receptions, the Athens Farmers Market and a chili cookoff for neighboring theater Ciné’s benefit. Beauchamp plans to give open the space to more nonprofits and the brewery will host another chili cook-off on Nov. 14 for the Humane Society.
The cans will begin in bottle shops around town and the Kroger on Alps Road. To celebrate, the brewery hosted a free concert at the Georgia Theatre on Nov. 10 with Programs, Velveteen Pink and Semicircle.
Two more cans will hit stores early next year, with Reclaimed Rye in January and Bibo in March. By the end of March, Creature Comforts also hopes to make a full Atlanta launch, going full scale in both draft and cans for two communities.
There are big steps ahead for the brewery, but the team is optimistic for the company’s next steps.
“After being open for six months, we can just catch our breath a bit,” said Katie Beauchamp.