Pair of Georgia Breweries Still Face Uphill Climb After Small Business Award

reformation brewery

Although happy for the recognition, it’s still an uphill climb for a pair of Georgia breweries that were recently honored as a “rock star” for its small business practices.

Reformation Brewery in Woodstock, Georgia and Athens’ Creature Comforts were two of five businesses given the title “Small Business Rock Star” by the the Georgia Department of Economic Development and Georgia Economic Developers Association.

“There are still a lot of very real and significant challenges that small businesses in our industry face in Georgia,” said Creature Comforts CEO Chris Herron. “We are proud of the steps that have been taken to move our industry forward, but there is far more that can be done.”

Georgia and Mississippi are the only two states in the U.S. that do not allow brewery taprooms to sell beer directly to consumers. House Bill 846 has been introduced to the Mississippi legislature for the possibility of direct sales. If it passes it would leave Georgia as the lone state in the Union to not have such a law on the books.

“We could be the only state in the country that does not support it’s craft breweries when it comes to what we feel is common sense legislation and what should be an almost basic right of a business,” Herron said. “Even with the unfavorable environment, the consumers in our state and the small independent craft brewers have been able to drive this industry forward, which is really quite amazing.  If the necessary legislative changes were made to support the small businesses in the craft beer industry in our state, the growth and job creation would be absolutely incredible.”

Out of 69 entries, Reformation and Creature Comforts won the award for being a small business with less than 100 employees that had been assisted by either a local or state economic development team.

creature comforts brewery “The city of Woodstock and Cherokee county have been friends who have stood beside us in our journey, willing to be agile and creative to help us open,” said Reformation CEO Spencer Nix in his acceptance speech. “The Downtown Development Authority expanded their zone to include us. Downtown Woodstock added us as a stop to their trolley route.

“Woodstock’s response to our small business was ‘yes’ and ‘let’s make it work.’ ”

Opened in October of 2013, Reformation says it is a values‐based company that seeks to reform beer culture and liberate beer from societal extremes.

“We believe why you drink beer is just as important as the beer you choose to drink,” Nix said in an email to The Brewer Magazine. “In other words, we exist to redeem beer culture and not just make great craft beer. Weaving brewing with living, we declare beer is a good gift and should be free: liberated from the shackles of societal extremes.

“Reformation Brewery holds dear the moments communities enjoy together. Here we stand to set beer free.”

Herron said the focus on quality is a core of Creature Comforts business practices.

“For us quality is about three things: people, products, and promotions,” he said. “We believe that by focusing and delivering on quality in these three areas, we can earn industry respect.”

Herron appreciated the award and pointed the accolades also to its retail partners, distributors and vendors for the brewery that produced 10,000 barrels in 2015 with goals of around 18,000 bbls for 2016 with a capacity of 28,000 expected after installing four 120-bbl fermentors, a 120-bbl brite tank and a new mash tun.

“Any time that a group we have worked with provides us with an accolade such as this, it is a huge honor for us and a step in the right direction for our brewery,” Herron said.

Reformation, which looks to almost double its output from 2015 where it made 1,650 bbls with a projected goal of 3,000 bbls in 2016, is in the process of canning it’s Belgian-style Witbier, “Union,” and Nix expects the beer to hit shelves in March with plans to expand into three more Georgia markets: Columbus, Augusta and Macon.

“Our goal as a brewery is to become a trusted go to source of well-made products that fit into the cadence of everyday moments,” Nix said.


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