I’ve been home brewing since 1995 when I received my first homebrewing kit as a gift. From early on I dreamed of opening a brewery (as I think a lot of homebrewers do), but usually I did little to pursue the dream. Back in 2009, my family moved from Atlanta to Savannah and that’s when everything finally got put into motion.
By the spring of 2010 I had put together a skeletal plan of how to get things started and I convinced my brother to invest in the dream. I decided the first beer would be an American Brown Ale as a nod to my homebrewing roots, since this style was developed by American hombrewers as an adaption of the English Brown Ale. In February of 2011 we began producing test batches at Blue and Gray Brewing to scale up the recipe from 5 gallon batches to 600 gallon batches. By summer of 2011 we had perfected the recipe and we set a date to bring the beer to market.
Coastal Empire Beer Co.’s Savannah Brown Ale was first shipped to Savannah Distributing on August 25, 2011. We officially launched at the Distillery on, Sunday, August 28, 2011, the first night of the first Annual Savannah Craft Beer Week. The following Saturday Savannah Brown Ale took home first place in the People’s Choice Award at the Savannah Craft Brew Fest. That made our first week on the market greater than anything we had hoped for.
Since beginning as a contract brewery, we have won medals at the 2012 US Open Beer Championship, 2013 US Open Beer Championship, 2014 US Open Beer Championship, and at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival. The last medal was particularly sweet as we won it on the third beer that we brewed at our new location at 79 Ross Rd when we made the switch from a contract brewery to a production brewery.