Bringing the Craft Beer Experience to Georgia’s Lake Country
July 29, 2015
Craft beer is cool. That’s it. We could end this story right there.
But you know what’s even cooler than throwing out the general term, “craft beer?” The fact that the Lake Oconee area, specifically Greensboro, Georgia, will have its very own brewery in less than a year, Lake Country Brewing.
You see how cool craft breweries are? Lake Country Brewing belongs to developers / proprietors John McGarity, Nathan McGarity and Brewmaster Taylor Lamm, but we’re already claiming it as our own! Having a craft brewery in town is a lot like having a really good musician in the family – it makes the whole town / family by relation.
The Lake Country Brewing will be located in the former Cheero Cola Building located next to Farmer’s Feed & Seed on West Street. While the project recently received a $500,000 development grant, the total renovation & construction costs are estimated at around $2.3 million, according to Nathan McGarity. Construction is slated to begin in October and the brewers plan to open for business in the spring of 2016.
The Craft Brewery Experience
Lake Country Brewery will operate as a 15-barrel brew house which translates to about 500 gallons at a time. The brewery will offer four year-round beers in addition to several seasonal offerings. The production facility will be open to the public and will offer tours, tastings and will be available as an events facility.
According to Lamm, it is extremely important to the design and ambience of the facility that as many of the details of the building as possible be preserved, including an old fire door, the exposed brick and even perhaps an old cotton processing machine.
In addition to visual appeal, the group is very focused on future guests audible experience, having consulted sound design experts from major live music venues in Atlanta and around the southeast.
The Perfect Location
It’s not surprising to see a craft brewery or two (or three or four) pop up in a town the size of Athens, Savannah or Atlanta, but some are surprised to see such an investment made in a town the size of Greensboro.
“Some people think that it’s in the middle of nowhere,” says Nathan McGarity. “We happen to think that it’s in the middle of everywhere.”
Lamm points out that Greensboro is ten minutes from Lake Oconee, 40 minutes from Athens and just an hour from Augusta, Macon and Savannah.
“It is about economic development,” says John McGarity. “We started with the old Mary-Lelia Cotton mill and that project is already under way and will create about 90 jobs. The brewery will build upon that as we will have 5-10 employees within 3-5 years.”
“The craft beer industry is a booming industry nationwide,” says Lamm. “Georgia has been a little behind on reaping the benefits, but we’re seeing that pick up and we want to be a part of it and a part of the revitalization of downtown Greensboro.”
History of the Building
- The Cheero Cola Building – in the 1930’s, the Greensboro Electric Bottling Works bottled the drink in the building.
- Stored the finished products of the Mary-Leila Cotton Mill and a location to receive raw materials and manufacturing equipment by rail
Craft Brewing Facts
- Craft brewers provide an estimated 360,000 jobs in the U.S., including serving staff in brewpubs.
- In 2014, the industry grew 18% by volume and 22% by total share.
- Craft brewers sold over 21 million barrels of beer in 2014 – up from 16.6 million in 2013.
- Retail dollar value from craft brewers in 2014 was estimated at $19.6 billion, up from $14.3 billion in 2013.
- In the last decade, craft breweries average 10.9 percent growth.
- 2,768 craft breweries operated for some or all of 2013, comprised of 1,237 brewpubs, 1,412 microbreweries and 119 regional craft breweries.