Caleb McCarty is waiting for the light to change at Hereford Farm Road when the sounds of Jason Aldean’s Lights Come On fill the cab of his Bud Light 18-wheeler.
“Hey, listen to this,” he says, turning up the radio. “It’s a song about us.”
As one of 15 truck drivers for Evans-based A.B. Beverage Co., it’s McCarty’s job to see that the nearly 1,000 metro area businesses that sell beer – from bars and restaurants to convenience stores and supermarkets – stay well stocked during the prime holiday party season.
Summer is peak beer season, but more is sold in December than any other month. Americans bought more than $5.8 billion worth of beer, wine and liquor last December, about $1.3 billion more than July, the next highest-grossing month. McCarty’s 40-foot trailer holds up to 900 cases of brew, including craft beers, which the National Beer Wholesalers Association says sell better in winter than the traditional lagers and light beers most people drink during summer.
Craft brews are a growing niche in markets like Augusta, which now has Riverwatch Brewery and Savannah River Brewing Co., which is expected to open soon. City officials are currently looking at revamping local laws to attract more of these businesses to downtown.
But as an Anheuser-Busch InBev-affiliated distributor, A.B.Beverage trucks are loaded primarily with that brewery’s brands, including its perennial best seller – Bud Light.
While McCarty carts six-packs, 12-packs, cases and 170-pound kegs into restaurants such as Fatz Cafe, Rhinehart’s and Ruby Tuesday, his “off-premise” counterpart, Matt Quattlebaum, is making a delivery at the Circle K store at 511 Furys Ferry Road.
McCarty and Quattlebaum said they enjoy the work because of the friendships they develop with their customers. About the only downside, he said, is when passersby make cliched comments about trying to score a free beer, as if his heavily inventoried cargo wouldn’t be missed.
“ ‘Hey, you got any extras in there for me?’ ” McCarty imitates. “Yeah, that one gets old.”