In 2014, when Georgia Tech grads and fraternity roommates Jason Santamaria and Chris Doyle opened Second Self Beer Co. in a small office park building on Logan Circle in northwest Atlanta, the beer scene in Georgia was beginning a major growth spurt.
Other breweries that opened that year included Creature Comforts in Athens, and Eventide and Orpheus in Atlanta, while Wild Heaven went from contract brewing to a brick-and-mortar brewery in Avondale, and Burnt Hickory in Kennesaw moved up from nano brewing with a new 20-barrel brewhouse.
Some five years later, with more favorable beer legislation on the books, and a business-friendly economy in full swing, that growth has turned into a boom, with new breweries opening at a clip that’s sometimes difficult to keep up with.
But with the boom, some fear a bust may be inevitable, and many breweries, like Second Self, are looking for ways to diversify and build growth in new directions.
“We’re coming up on our fifth year in October, so there’s going to be a lot of stuff coming up for our anniversary,” Santamaria said recently when we sat down in the Second Self taproom to talk about the company’s plans for the future.
“So how do you stay relevant in your fifth year, running a brewery these days? There’s so much to compete with to get someone here. And then we are in a place that you have to drive to. You don’t stumble on us walking out of another building. You have to want to come here.”
Known as the Second Self “Beer Architect,” Santamaria has a background in the restaurant business, and is tasked with creating flavor profiles for the company’s beers, often using culinary ingredients. So it wasn’t too surprising when he revealed that some different kinds of drinks were on the horizon.
"We started the Cirrus venture a few weeks ago to diversify our product offerings outside of beer, and since we already have the machinery for canning, this was a natural fit for us. It's also an exciting category that's growing in other regions around the country, and we wanted to offer something local here in Atlanta.
“I became a user of CBD last year. I heard this phrase on a podcast that I really like: ‘It’s not what it does to you, it’s what it takes away.” So for me that’s stress. It calms me down, and helps me focus, and I’ve found myself sleeping better. We have two Cirrus waters now. Pure is unflavored, and Waikiki is papaya lychee flavored. So far, everyone who’s tried it loves it. But it’s an education process.”
While Cirrus is a separate business, Santamaria and Doyle have some other projects in the works as part of their Second Self partnership.
“We just got our federal wine license, and I’m applying for our state license now,” Santamaria said. “The federal license in combination with the state beer license lets us make cider. So we’re starting cider now. And then the state wine license allows us to make wine.
“We’ll make the cider here, and we’ll serve it in the taproom, and later we plan to put it on the canning line. But we need to figure all that out first. We aren’t going to be working on any sweet ciders. We want them all to be nice and dry, and fit the profile of our beers. We’ll put one on tap to begin with and see how it does.”
Asked about the particulars of making wine, Santamaria explained that will be done with established Georgia wineries.
“I’m working with Georgia vineyards to do our own label,” he said. “We’d create our own blend. We’re not farmers. We’re not vintners. We’re going to stick to what we’re good at. But, again with the wine, it will mostly be for the taproom. All of this is about filling our taps. We have 20 in the taproom right now. Last year, we had 10-12. So my goal is to have all 20 all the time.
“Eventually, we’ll get into distilling, as well. I want to create Second Self Beverage Co. as the vision I put forth after five years, and really focus on unique ways to create beverages. Beer is the main focus. CBD is another one. We may do nitro coffee with and without CBD. And then we’ll be moving on to other alcohols. We’re really good at creating flavors, and we want to be a beverage incubator.”
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