The 5 Values Southern Grist Employs

With plenty of highly adjunct-ladened brands that Southern Grist has put on over the years since opening in Nashville in 2016, making sure quality was one of the key values the company has employed from the, which CEO and co-founder Kevin Antoon made sure to point out during his cover story interview this past spring during the 2023 Craft Brewers Conference.

“Quality, employees, customers, southern hospitality, and community,” he said of those values. Antoon and the Nashville brewery are the cover focus for the September/October 2023 Buyer’s Guide print issue of Brewer Mag.

Not being originally from the Nashville area, Antoon along with fellow founder Jamie Lee teamed with local homebrewer and fellow former employee at a tech company in Jared Welch, the the trio wants to make craft beer a part of southern hospitality and help welcome all types of people to the industry and drinking experience. It was a key along with quality and employee/customer care as some major ideals.

“Once we got up over 20 employees, you’ve got 20 different personalities, that’s when we added the employee core value because it was just the three of us to start and we didn’t care about ourselves,” Antoon pointed out. “Employees is a big one for us. We have people on staff, like (Marketing Director) Jess (Gonzalez) has been here for six years.

“We don’t get this quick turnover in which most beertenders typically last a year, we’ve got most of ours at four, five, six years and they’ve been with us from the start, some of them.”

Giving full benefits and a 401k match for full-time employees are things that Southern Grist prides itself on.

“Most breweries don’t do at our size,” Antoon said. “But we want to make sure they’re taken care of. And we also make sure everyone gets days off and doesn’t leave too late.

“We put our customers and employees in the same bucket, basically. We want to make sure they’re happy.”

They also will not sacrifice quality for cost or opinion. Take, for example, making a beer with 600 pounds of Lucky Charms marshmallows in a beer.

“We found the marshmallow dealer and made sure they were Lucky Charms marshmallows and it’s the real deal,” Antoon said. “We don’t use artificial sweeteners … everything’s real to be put in the beer. It was a promise we made to ourselves.

“At times it’s really hard to keep the promise. All three of us are perfectionists, almost to a fault. But Jared wants to make sure quality is top of mind for him all the time. And that goes for the floor being clean all the way to the beer that’s getting put out.“

The brewery added a lab manager at 2,500 barrels of yearly production.

“Usually you don’t get a microbiologist on staff till 10-15,000 barrels,” Antoon said. “We have a full lab and a microbiologist on staff to make sure that everything going out the door doesn’t have anything in it.”

And sometimes it’s hard, he said.

“We want to make sure that everyone who walks in the door has a seat at the table and we will have something on the menu for their palate,” Antoon said. “That’s way harder than we thought it was going to be.

“If you can’t pivot between IPAs, Lagers, and fruited sours, and even one of them is bad? Everything’s bad. We don’t want someone saying, ‘I mean, they’re really good, but their sours kind of suck.’ We got to make sure that every line that Jared does is perfect.”

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