“Right now, I only need to brew once a week for a day-and-a-half, and then I can spend the rest of the time up front in the taproom,” he said.
Though his first brewing job in Georgia was at the now-defunct Dogwood Brewing Co. in Atlanta, Williams got his start at a brewpub in his home state of Wisconsin.
“I learned how to brew there, and I learned the nuts and bolts of running a small brewery,” he said.
After spending the past few years as a consultant for other small breweries, Williams finally decided it was time to open one of his own.
“Doing consulting allowed me to see the revenue, so we built this brewery based on the revenue, not ‘I want a shiny brewhouse, and then let’s figure out how to sell it,’” he said. “We built it smaller on purpose, but we spent money where we needed to. And, we saved a lot on the brew system, because I knew ways to get around that.”
Another major asset for a small brewery like Blackbird Farms is the surrounding community, Williams said.
“We live a few minutes from here, and we knew all these neighborhoods around here,” he said. “All the investors are friends and local people, too, so it’s like we’re inviting them over for a beer.”
Last week, Williams took me through a tasting of several of the beers on the menu at Blackbird Farms, including Yellow River Wheat, Part Time Genius Hazy IPA, and a lovely amber lager, called Georgia Airport Beer, that’s made with 100% Vienna malt.
I really liked an unusual pale ale, called Farmish. It’s dry-hopped with German Hallertau, which gives it a surprisingly earthy note. But, my favorite was Trophy Husband, a big, dark imperial stout brewed with rich English malts, including flaked barley.
“Style-wise, we’re going to do everything,” Williams said. “We’ll have sours, New England and hazy IPAs, and everything else. I brewed for other people for a long time, and I’m excited to get all these beers that I created over the years in one place. That’s going to be a lot of fun for me, because, really, it’s all about the beer.”
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