Travelers to Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport will soon be able to enjoy their favorite cold beer from Southbound Brewing Company. The local brewery is in the final stages of opening a taphouse just outside of the security checkpoint in the Savannah Square section of the airport.
“The location is right before security, so it will be great for those getting to the airport a little early for their flights and for those waiting to pick people up,” said Carly Wiggins, marketing and sales director of Southbound.
Wiggins said that because of Georgia state laws the taphouse is technically an HMSHost facility, which is the food-service company that contracts with the airport, but the branding, brews and décor are all straight from Southbound’s west Savannah brewery.
“The look and feel of the facility pulls directly from the brewery with live-edge wood bars, wooden barrels, unique growler lighting, and of course an amazing mural done by local artist, Aldofo Alvarado. He’s done a couple of murals for us in Savannah including the large one for us at the brewery. They will also have pool tables for people to play while enjoying a cold one,” Wiggins said of the new space.
The partnership with HMSHost was a natural fit for the brewery since they had worked with them in the past to get Southbound beers on tap in other airport bars, Wiggins said.
“They wanted to bring some local features into the airport, and it’s a great opportunity for us to share our brand with those traveling through Savannah,” she said.
“It’s been incredibly fun and exciting planning out the vibe of the Taphouse. It’s really going to be a great place to hang out.”
New laws earn praise
While it won’t affect anything at the new airport location, the opening of the taphouse comes on the heels of Georgia’s new alcohol regulations, which went into effect in September and allow breweries to sell their products straight to consumers.
“The success of the new law has started to show for everyone in the Georgia brewing industry. We’ve been able to extend our hours and host new events we previously wouldn’t have done before,” said Wiggins, who also serves as president of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild.
Industry workers have been campaigning for new regulations for years. In July 2015, workers celebrated the passing of a bill which loosened requirements and allowed customers to take home beer as long as they’d taken a tour of the facility. However, the celebration was short-lived after the Department of Revenue quietly released a bulletin about two months later, which tightened the regulations stating that the volume of alcohol couldn’t dictate the price of the tour, so the price of the tour had to be the same regardless of whether a patron wanted a to-go souvenir.
In January 2016, the DOR and industry reps hit somewhat of a compromise, once again allowing breweries to start offering tours at variable prices based on what type of beer is offered. Under the new law, breweries can sell up to 3,000 barrels of beer per year and distilleries can sell up to 500 barrels.
Wiggins said the new and improved regulations are a positive thing for the industry and will allow more hours for employees along with new job positions, partnerships and more taxable income for the state of Georgia.
“We’ve been able to work more with our food truck partners and other local companies’ on-site. It’s also providing a new avenue of fundraising for our nonprofit partners. We added in the beer garden out back and have just finished adding in 12 new taps at the brewery,” she said of the recent updates.
“We will be able to create a lot more one off small batches to ensure a unique tasting experience for our consumers. We are thrilled to see how this grows over the next year or so!”