The whole process of building a brewery from scratch just won’t seem real until she sees Augusta watering holes with Riverwatch Brewery taps behind the bar, brew master Brey Sloan said.
On Tuesday, that dream became a little closer to reality as the brewery – likely to be the first in the city in more than a century – received its state license from the Georgia Department of Revenue, allowing it to sell alcoholic beverages.
It was the last in a series of three licenses required to open, but don’t head down to the Farmer Market on Laney-Walker Boulevard just yet; Sloan said it should still take about three weeks for her first brews to hit local taps.
She’s already conducted a “water brew” to test the efficiency of the system and still has to pass an inspection by the fire marshal and the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
“Oh, I’ve still got all sorts of things to be nervous about still,” she said with a laugh.
According to the brewery’s newly launched Web site, its initial offering will consist of four different styles of beer: Cautionary Tale IPA, Scenic Overlook Blond, 104 Pale Ale and Nearest Point of Relief, a lime kristallweizen.
The brewery will feature a tasting room open two days a week and will offer tour discounts to active or retired military, law enforcement and firefighters.
Sloan, a retired Army officer, said she hopes to start the tours before Masters Week.
“That’s going to be amazing,” she said. “I guess this all won’t seem real until then.”
Just around the corner from her, on 5th Street, another brewery is in the works.
Savannah River Brewing Company, which is currently being constructed, is looking to become the city’s second when it opens later this year.
Monroe, Ga., resident Steve Ellison, the brewery’s president and co-founder, said he has family in the area and was surprised to see that a city the size of Augusta went so long without a brewery, though there have been brewpubs in the last 20 years.
“That’s kind of how it started,” he said. “We saw a need and loved the town. We scratched our heads and put some things together.”
Savannah River Brewing, he said, already has a brewmaster with two decades of experience and is currently awaiting the arrival of its equipment from British Columbia, Canada.
The brewery has applied for its local, state and federal licenses and has an online presence via its Web site and Facebook page, the latter of which dates back to at least December.
Like Riverwatch Brewery, Savannah River Brewing appears set for a four-beer offering: Savannah River IPA, Dynamite Brown Ale, Green Jacket Pilsner and Westobou Amber Ale.
The names should ring a bell for Augustans, and that’s by design, Ellison said.
“We want to be Augusta’s hometown brewery,” he said.