FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The beer at Cherry Street Brewing Cooperative is selling out as quickly as it is being brewed at the newly formed brewpub located at the Vickery Village in Cumming.
Selling out of beer is a problem founder Nick Tanner is certainly not complaining about.
“I can’t keep up right now,” Tanner said. “I’m brewing bigger batches ’cause we’re selling through them. We’ve got to get more kegs in here.”
Tanner said building inventory has been the toughest thing so far for his specialty beer selections. It takes about seven to 10 days for the beer making process.
“As he’s making the beer, he’s selling it so fast,” said Rick Tanner, Nick’s father who runs the adjacent Rick Tanner’s Grille and Bar, the only place right now where customers are able to buy the beer and get a glimpse of the operations.
And each batch has a story.
Like the day a state revenue agent popped into their brewpub for their final inspection at noon on Dec. 12, 2012. That inspired Nick to start a batch that will have 12 malts, 12 hops, have an alcohol content of 12 percent and is being aged for 12 months. The beer, still unnamed will be served on Dec. 12 every year. The West L.A. Hopaway is a take on the Grateful Dead song “West L.A. Fadeaway.” Other micro brews include Irish Red Eye Jedi Ale, Dylan’s Dubbel, and the Ta Ta Cream Ale, which will be sold to raise funds for Breast Cancer Awareness.
Seasonal brews include Summer Fling Watermelon Blonde Ale, Coconut Porter and Friend of the Farmer’s Porter. Nick’s friends call him, “Farmer.”
The brewpub has also built on its community support. A “Mug Club” offered about 36 members the opportunity to chip in to help fund equipment for the venture. Founding members were each rewarded with their own engraved mug that hangs from the ceiling behind Rick Tanner’s bar.
“It’s all about the community,” Rick Tanner said. “All the people are behind it, because if we are successful with the brewery, this whole market here will be successful.”
ALCOHOL LAW CHANGE
The Forsyth County alcohol law has shifted several times; from allowing Sunday alcohol sales, allowing growlers in the county and now with allowing brewpubs to set up operations. According to the county, there may be even more changes later this year.
The first major step for Nick was to change the law in the county to mimic the state. Breweries in a pub are permitted under state law but may produce no more than 10,000 barrels of beer per year. They can then sell the beer where it is produced and 5,000 barrels can be distributed wholesale.
One barrel equals 31 gallons or the equivalent of two kegs.
Now, Nick Tanner is pushing to allow patrons to taste samples of his product before they buy.
In Milton and Alpharetta, patrons can sample beer before they make a purchase. This has placed Forsyth County at a disadvantage, he said.
Growler stores, he said, would also benefit from the change in the alcohol law.
“The one final fight is beer tastings; right now, it’s against ordinance to taste the beer,” Nick Tanner said. “We’ve had customers that eat in our restaurant and say they drive down to Alpharetta to the growler shops because they can taste it before they buy it.”
Distribution is the next step in continuing the Cherry Street Cooperative momentum throughout the region. Getting a distributor that can work with the microbrewery can help them be able to get their beer into festivals, growler shops and other restaurants.
“For us, being so small, we want the best distributor, who will help us grow,” Nick Tanner said. “We are unsure if we go with a large distributor or a small distributor and let them grow with us.”
There are other ideas in the works. One involves local home brewers competing. The winners get to produce their brew along with Nick Tanner and a big party the last Tuesday of each month, starting Jan. 29.
“To be hands-on in the whole process is the fun of it,” Nick Tanner said.
Nick Tanner picked up brewing beer in college at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. He started his operations as a home brewer on Cherry Street in 2006. Nick is family friends with New Belgium Brewery founders, makers of Fat Tire Ale.
“He would sell beer to the fraternities and parties out there,” Rick Tanner said. “The rules are completely different in Colorado.”