First Draft with Carly Wiggins
The co-founder of Savannah's Southbound Brewing talks beer
In just a few years, Southbound Brewing has gone from a small beer producer in Savannah to one of Georgia’s most exciting beer makers. As with everything in the Peach State’s beer scene, though, it didn’t come easy. Carly Wiggins and partner Smith Mathews have been friends since they were kids in Statesboro, and attended Georgia Tech together as well, but it was working at SweetWater Brewing Company where they got the bug to open a place together. In 2013, Southbound was born. Creative Loafing caught up with Wiggins to talk about how their business has grown, the challenges they’ve faced, and what the future might hold.
Describe your first beer.
I want to say my first beer was a Corona that I stole from my parents when I was in late middle school. I imagine some of my girlfriends and I snuck off with them! Certainly not fancy, but that was really a long time before craft beer was mainstream — especially in a smaller town like Statesboro.
How did you start getting into craft stuff?
Georgia Tech is really where I started to get into craft beer. I had a bunch of friends who worked on the bottling line at SweetWater. They always had it around and I really loved the IPA and 420. When I found out they had a job opening for tour staff, I jumped on it. Since they were smaller then, I had the opportunity to experience a lot of different things there. This is where I fell in love with the industry. There is something so special about the people who are all willing to work so hard and work together. I mean, where could you find another industry who is willing to help a competitor out if they run out of a crucial ingredient?
This solidified my decision to stay on the brewery path. I was still in school and decided that I wanted to add on a second degree. I came into school as a Management major with a concentration in Marketing. I added on the second major, Industrial Design. I wanted to refocus my schooling to be more about the beer industry.
I’m intrigued by Southbound’s one-off bomber series. What's the thinking there, and how are people reacting to it?
The easiest way to think about it is to compare it to cooking. A chef doesn’t want to make the same things all the time. You have your staples on the menu, but people are looking for something that’s fresh, new, and applicable to the season. We have our core items and we love them. However, it’s great for the guys to be creative and come up with new and delicious short-run beers. Up until this month, we’ve really only had the capacity for our two core items and then the continuous one-off beers. We’ve done 15 different one-offs so far.
This has also helped us to determine what works and what doesn’t. We recently expanded and doubled our capacity from 5,000 to 10,000 barrels. This expansion combined with the knowledge we’ve gained from the market with the one-offs has led us to be able to add on a third core item (Shakedown Street Saison) and an official seasonal line. We selected three beers we brewed previously and will be transitioning them from the 22-ounce bottles to 12-ounce six-pack cans. Starting with Transilience, our Imperial Berliner Weisse with mango and pomegranate.
?What do you hope for the future of Georgia beer?
We’re one of two states in the U.S. that can’t sell our product directly to a consumer for on- or off-site consumption. I just know the amount of money that comes in from having a true tasting room and what we could turn that into. I’ve seen it firsthand working previously in a South Carolina brewery. My hope for the future of Georgia beer is to be able to achieve that equality with those other states. For people to realize the sky isn’t going to fall if the laws change, because well, frankly, it hasn’t happened in the other 48 states.
Wrecking Bar Brewpub Wood-Aged Wednesdays
?When: Every Wednesday
?Where: Wrecking Bar Brewpub
?Price: Depends how many wood-aged beers you drink
?Each week, the Little Five Points brewpub serves up a special small-batch beer that’s been aged in a wood barrel.
5 Seasons Cask Night
?When: Every Thursday, 5:55-7:55 p.m.
?Where: 5 Seasons North and Westside
?Price: Depends how much cask ale you drink
?Each week, a different guest taps a different keg of “real cask ale.”