Bringing the Craft Beer Experience to Georgia’s Lake Country
Craft beer is cool. That’s it. We could end this story right there.
But you know what’s even cooler than throwing out the general term, “craft beer?” The fact that the Lake Oconee area, specifically Greensboro, Georgia, will have its very own brewery in less than a year, Lake Country Brewing.
You see how cool craft breweries are? Lake Country Brewing belongs to developers / proprietors John McGarity, Nathan McGarity and Brewmaster Taylor Lamm, but we’re already claiming it as our own! Having a craft brewery in town is a lot like having a really good musician in the family - it makes the whole town / family by relation.
The Lake Country Brewing will be located in the former Cheero Cola Building located next to Farmer’s Feed & Seed on West Street. While the project recently received a $500,000 Redevelopment Fund Grant from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, the total renovation & construction costs are estimated at around $2.3 million, according to Nathan McGarity. As loan payments are made back to the DDA, the funds may be used to make additional low-interest loans to future business start-ups in growing downtown Greensboro. Construction on the brewery is slated to begin in 2016.
Lake Country Brewery will operate as a 15-barrel brew house which translates to about 500 gallons at a time. The brewery will offer four year-round beers in addition to several seasonal offerings. The production facility will be open to the public and will offer tours, tastings and will be available as an events facility.
According to Lamm, it is extremely important to the design and ambience of the facility that as many of the details of the building as possible be preserved, including an old fire door, the exposed brick and even perhaps an old cotton processing machine.
In addition to visual appeal, the group is very focused on future guests audible experience, having consulted sound design experts from major live music venues in Atlanta and around the southeast.
It’s not surprising to see a craft brewery or two (or three or four) pop up in a town the size of Athens, Savannah or Atlanta, but some are surprised to see such an investment made in a town the size of Greensboro.
“Some people think that it’s in the middle of nowhere,” says Nathan McGarity. “We happen to think that it’s in the middle of everywhere.” The Downtown Development Authority of Greensboro set its sights on recruiting a brewery several years ago and partnered with developers John and Nathan McGarity to push the project forward. They were instrumental in creating this opportunity for new development in beautiful downtown Greensboro, Lake Oconee’s Hometown. “The idea of a brewery in Greensboro really took hold,” says Nathan, “The more we learned about the business of breweries, the more excited we got about developing a brewery in Greensboro.”
Lamm points out that Greensboro is ten minutes from Lake Oconee, 40 minutes from Athens and just an hour from Augusta, Macon and Savannah.
“It is about economic development,” says John McGarity. “We started with the old Mary-Lelia Cotton mill and that project is already under way and will create about 90 jobs. The brewery will build upon that as we will have 5-10 employees within 3-5 years.” The Lake Country Brewing project will bring a total investment of more than $2 million to downtown Greensboro.
“The craft beer industry is a booming industry nationwide,” says Lamm. “Georgia has been a little behind on reaping the benefits, but we’re seeing that pick up and we want to be a part of it and a part of the revitalization of downtown Greensboro.”
The Cheero Cola Building - in the 1930's, the Greensboro Electric Bottling Works bottled the drink in the building.
Stored the finished products of the Mary-Leila Cotton Mill and a location to receive raw materials and manufacturing equipment by rail