The South Rises Again for Brewing

An admitted American History buff, Michael Lundmark is hoping to make a bit of history for Georgia in the coming year. The president of Jekyll Brewing in suburban Atlanta has joined forces with fellow brewers in the Peach State to tackle post-Prohibition laws that are still on the books.

“The laws in Georgia still suck real bad,” said Lundmark, who opened Jekyll as a package plant in August of 2013. “There is still a three-tier system in place. You can’t sell anything out of our taproom except tour glasses … we can’t even sell a six-pack to [customers]. Georgia is one of four states that still have those laws in place. So we are working diligently to modernize the laws and grow our jobs here and fix some things.”

Jekyll is a part of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild [GCBG], established in 2010. With just 34 breweries in the state, and with 16 of those opening less than two years ago, the GCBG is working with lobbyists to help convince lawmakers to eliminate at least two of the laws that hamstring the state’s breweries and brewpubs.

Georgia ranks in the bottom 10 percent of craft breweries per capita according to published reports. Passing new laws to strike down the old ones could create jobs, a 10 percent increase for Jekyll Brewing, Lundmark says.

133709_XX_1.indd“If I can sell beer out of my taproom, we have to hire people to sell that beer which directly creates jobs,” he explained. “Georgia is pretty high on the stack of unemployment rates so this gives the state a way to modernize the laws to create jobs. It’s a win-win strategy for everybody.”

In order to have a focused initiative, the GCBG had to pick the top two most important things to change and go after those. “We want on-site sales — whether you come into the taproom to fill a growler, or buy a six pack or a keg. Those things need to be able to happen,” Lundmark said. “The other is doing the same for the brew pubs.”

The guild started a Crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo’s website ( on Nov. 3 to raise $30,000 to help the cause.

“Most other states, including our neighboring states of North Carolina and South Carolina, recognize that local craft brewing is an engine of development and economic progress,” it says on the fund-raising page. “But as other states support their local craft brewers and build on the success of their booming craft beer industries, Georgia continues to lag behind because our state laws and regulations are out-of-date and inhospitable to craft beer entrepreneurs.

“Georgia’s laws and regulations governing the production and sale of craft beer need to be modernized and brought into the 21st Century!”

The positive aspect in all this legal mumbo jumbo is that Lundmark believes the laws will be changed. “We feel confident in the next legislative session,” he said. “We can have our bill introduced and written into law by next summer.”

New laws would mean more business for the 10,000 barrel per year production brewery that Lundmark said he started after he got sick of his corporate life working in the airlines industry. “I was the typical corporate schmuck and I hated it,” he said.

Sitting on a beach in July of 2011 with his family, up to his Blackberry in work, Lundmark pulled his kids aside and said he was quitting his job when he got home. “And my kids, all three of them at the same time, start bawling their eyes out. Everyone on the beach is looking at me like, ‘Who is this jerk? What did he do to his kids?’ remembers Lundmark. “I’m trying to calm my kids down and I ask them what they are crying about and they look at me and one of them says, ‘Dad, we don’t want to live in a box,’ So they got over that.”

Using recipes from “the best beer I ever tasted” from his friend Josh Rachel, who wasn’t using his marketing degree that he got in 2008 and instead of was working at a homebrew shop, the duo opened Jekyll in Alpharetta, a suburb in the northeast corner of Atlanta.

The company employs 33 with about half of those full time while they produce five year-round beers and several seasonal and one-offs.

Each beer comes with a tad bit of history, hearkening back to Lundmark’s love of the past.

“I found the one thing that people in the South love: That is being from the South and the heritage they have here,” said Lundmark, who moved to Georgia in 2004. “I wanted to create a brand name and a marketing perspective to have people talk about Southern history and Southern culture.”

It all starts with the name. Jekyll Brewing is a nod to the first Deep South brewery on Jekyll Island in 1738. “That was the birthplace of beer in the South,” Lundmark said. “I thought it was the best way to brand our organization. We tried to create brands in each beer that told a story.

“If you can get people to stand around a bar and talk about the history of beer in Georgia, they just happen to be talking about your brand, well then you just happen to have done yourself a favor.”

The Beers of Jekyll Brewing

Cooter Brown American Brown: A Civil War era legend of a man that lived on the border of the North and South. He had family on both sides of the war, so he decided to stay drunk the entire war so that he was useless for both sides.


Hoot’n & Holler’n Double IPA: When cars first came to the South they didn’t have odometers so a unit of distance was measured in the distance of a hoot of an owl and a holler of a person. So you could live “two hoots and a holler” away from someone.


Hop Dang Diggity Southern IPA:  It’s just a fun name to say,” says Jekyll Brewing president Michael Lundmark.

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