The Savannah craft beer scene has change quite a bit since Southbound Brewing Company first opened its doors three years ago.
Southbound will be celebrating its third anniversary with a party at the brewery on May 13. The party will feature many of Southbound’s regular beer (with a few surprises), local food and music by local favorites Velvet Caravan.
I spoke with Southbound co-founder Carly Wiggins about the brewery’s past and future.
Tell us how you’ve grown over the past three years.
Wiggins: The past three years have been hard work, but great for us. We began brewing in April 2013 after all the legislation passed allowing us to do so here in Savannah. We were able to sell our first beer May 15, 2013 and were able to sell about 850 barrels that year. In 2014 we were able to double that rate and get around 2,200 barrels and then this past year we were able to double that again brewing around 4,500 barrels.
We’ve been really fortunate with the amount of support we’ve gotten in Georgia, especially here in our home market. We really stayed only in the coastal area until April 2015 when we expanded into the rest of Georgia.
In late fall we opened up the Triangle area of North Carolina. That’s really the only placed we’ve touched in North Carolina. We expanded into the rest of South Carolina during January and February of 2016 as well. It’s not a huge footprint, but it spans over a lot of great beer areas!
How has the craft beer world changed in Georgia and Savannah in particular over the past three years?
Over the past few years a lot has changed here in Savannah. You can see accounts becoming more local-centric and craft-centric. There are a bunch of new craft beer bars opening up and places that were already here are rapidly adding new taps.
The beer scene in Georgia has almost tripled over the past few years. We currently have 42 active Georgia breweries in the Georgia Craft Brewer’s Guild. We also have four Brewery in Planning members, three of which are very close to becoming active. In addition, I’m in contact with about nine other breweries working to become BIP members of the Guild.
That’s incredibly exciting for Georgia, although technically the number of breweries should be much higher given a better legislative environment.
What are Southbound’s plans moving forward?
2016 is a big year for us. We are releasing our third core beer, Shakedown Street. We expanded our tanks doubling our capacity at the end of 2015. We’d really only been able to brew our two cores and sprinkle in one-off beers before that. Shakedown can be expected to launch in late May. It’s a dry-hopped tart saison.
We’re also creating an official seasonal line up. You’re familiar with our only true seasonal, Moonlight Drive, our PERC collaboration. We’ve done that Imperial Coffee Stout every winter and have chosen three other brews to stand in line with it.
We’ve also made the decision to transition that beer and the others into 12 oz cans! We will be launching with our Summer Seasonal, late May/early June, Transilience. It is our Imperial Berliner Weisse with mango and pomegranate.
Then we move into our Fall seasonal around late August, Picture of Nectar. That’s a Double India Pale Ale with peaches and nectarines. After that, of course Moonlight Drive will be released in November.
Then a new one for the Spring, Desert Dawn. That will be a tart Saison with elderberries. It’s a beautiful deep reddish pink color and will be coming out in February 2017.
Aside from those we will continue brewing up our one-off batches when we can.
We’re taking each year step by step. 2016 is going to focus on getting these new brews out to each area we distribute in. We need to make sure we can satisfy home base before moving anywhere else.
Our next expansion will likely be farther into North Carolina, but again it is all about maintaining what we currently have and not rushing into anything. We want to ensure we have a high quality product that our consumers can get. cs