Case Study: Eventide’s Plans For Southeastern Regional Growth

To celebrate its four year anniversary, Eventide Brewing created a limited run Oaked Rye Golden Ale. It’s a beer that means another year is starting for the Atlanta brewery that started small and has a goal to grow by leaps and bounds, but in measured steps.

“The best thing, I feel, about how we’ve gotten to this point over the last four years is that by laying calculated and stable ground work, and not over-leveraging the company, Eventide is poised for huge growth in the coming years,” said Brewmaster Geoffrey Williams who said the brewery is doing more than just sales in Atlanta now and has coverage in most of Georgia.

But there is still work to be done for this brewery that looks for regional growth.

Although Williams and Cowan felt that growth could be fast, they couldn’t anticipate just how quickly additional capacity would be needed.

“I feel we lost out on sales opportunities in 2015 and 2017 by simply waiting on additional tanks to be fabricated and shipped,” Williams said. “I feel we could have dedicated more time and resources to brand awareness.

“Obviously, I want Eventide to be a household name, and we are definitely getting more recognition year over year, but it’s always a bit of a gut punch when someone who lives in Grant Park, or a surrounding community, tells me he doesn’t know Eventide is a mile from his house.”

Added Cowan: “I think there are always going to be people who are just now discovering us. Living on the other side of Atlanta from where I work I can attest to how easy it is to miss out on happenings in your neighborhood.

“Plus, this means we always have a new market so not so bad a thing I think.”

One major area that Eventide underestimated on was the tasting room.

“We saw it initially as just an opportunity to give a few tours but in reality it has become a lot more than that and is a large factor in the decision on expanding production at our current location,” Cowan said. “More and more the tasting room is taking over the available space.”

Cowan added that’s not a bad problem to have since the tasting room is the side of the company that can directly engage with the consumer.

“The more we can do that the better for the brand,” he said.

The original business plan drew up in 2014 was going to be very lean on resources such as manpower, capital and equipment. The only tweaks have been positives, including fitting 75 percent more capacity in the space along with a canning line.

“It is a little eerie how close the business followed the model in the first few years,” Cowan said, “that was a total accident and in no way can we take full ownership of that. We have since moved past that initial plan so in some ways we are in uncharted waters but I would say we have a better compass at least.

Another change to the plan was bringing on outside investors.

“We were growing faster than we could sustain and we met a group that thought would be a good fit for us,” Williams said. “Thankfully, we turned out to be right and they have a been a great asset for us.”

Williams said that Eventide’s ethos has always been to put a unique spin on traditional styles and to introduce people to how good beer can be without having to reinvent the wheel or add every flavor imaginable.

“I feel this oaked rye golden ale was a wonderful showcase for this take on modern brewing,” he said about the 4th anniversary ale.

“It was much more ambitious than anything we’ve done in the past,” he added. “The anniversary ale series is always meant to be a special offering that celebrates the closing of one year and the beginning of another.”

When Williams first thought up the idea of a Rye Golden Ale he had been gearing up for the late-year runs of dark beers.

“My mind turned to thoughts of something lighter in color and flavor,” he said. “I’d also been experimenting with various oak char levels and had released a small oaked run of our Strong Scotch Ale, Highlander.

“I thought the beer would benefit from the smoothness and vanilla characteristics imparted by oak and decided to incorporate it into the final recipe. The end result was a 9.0 percent Golden Ale with notes of apricot, coconut, vanilla, light citrus, and a spicy rye character. It was excellent.”

The market is still new and exploding for the southeast and Eventide see potential to be a regional-sized brewery in the future.

“The consideration has been from the beginning that phase two would need to take market saturation into account and that is an ever changing thing both from supply and demand,” Cowan said. “Our goal from the beginning is to not outgrow ourselves. I would add to that and say that it is to not outgrow the fun factor of being in the beer business. We never wanted to be so big that we lost the relationship with our market.”

The bigger change to Eventide’s future projections stem from supply chain efficiency and also local demand.

“The biggest killer of any manufacturing business in not being too small, it is being too big,” Cowan warned. “I would rather underestimate the market and run at capacity than to overestimate the market and be in a situation were the ends do not meet.

“Better to be able to make money but not all the beer you want than to be able to make all the beer but not make any money. One of those businesses is flexible and dynamic, the other is where people are underpaid and the product is cheapened. I guess it boils down to what you, as a business owner, value.

“I’m not into world domination, never have been. I’m in to local culture and having a product that adds to that. Who knows, maybe one day there will be a style of beer that is known for being from Atlanta, GA. When people travel through they will try the local brew and take stories back with them. That is the real success story in my mind.”

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