Southern Brewery adding to mix of Athens craft beer makers
By Don Nelson
Business partners Brian Roth and Rick Goddard are set to complete financing for Athens fourth craft brewery, Southern Brewery, which is slated to open this summer and have its first batch of beer ready by the fall, Roth said.
Southern Brewery will join Copper Creek Brewing Company, Terrapin Beer Company, and the newest brewery, Creature Comforts.
Roth and Goddard hope to close on their financing by April 15, to build Southern Brewery on a parcel of land off Collins Industrial Boulevard that runs parallel with U.S. Highway 29. The property sits across Hwy. 29 from McLane Southeast. Soon after obtaining their financing for the project, estimated at $2 million, the partners expect to begin clearing space for a 10,000-square-foot brewery. Williams & Associates is working on the plans for the site.
They project the building to be completed by July, Roth said, and then they would move their equipment in and start brewing by early August with the first beer production expected by mid-September. The building will be large enough to produce 3,000 barrels of beer annually but that capacity won’t likely be reached until three or four years out. Roth expects Southern Brewery to make a more modest volume of 500 barrels in its first full year.
During construction of the brewery, Roth and Goddard will contract with Jailhouse Brewing in Hampton to actually produce Southern Brewery’s beers. Roth said he hopes to create eight different beers through Jailhouse before the Athens plant is ready to begin brewing.
After production begins in Athens, they expect to make different beers on a regular basis, he said. They even plan to have a home brew tap set up in the plant that will allow home brewers to get feedback on their creations.
Initially, Southern Brewery will produce only draft beer sold in kegs to restaurants, bars and growler shops.
“On premises in the bars is where people taste the beer first,” Roth said. “I like that idea to start out.”
They do expect to add a canning line within the first year, though, Roth added.
Roth and Goddard met several years ago in Washington D.C. when both were lobbying for beer interests and found they had a lot in common, including the dream of opening their own brewery.
Roth has worked for Athens beer distributor Leon Farmer & Co. since 1992. (He’ll have to leave his job with Leon Farmer in order to pursue his brewery dreams.) Goddard, was director of legal affairs for the Beer Institute, which represented major breweries around the country.