“We wanted to brew beer with a purpose.”
Meredith Sutton: I was in my studio making jewelry and Kevin was working in healthcare management. I bought Kevin a home brewing kit for Valentine’s Day because he was talking about how he wanted to get out of healthcare management and do something on his own. We were just having that discussion of what he wanted to do and what was he passionate about and craft beer kept coming up. My neighbor, who was running Savannah Home Brew and I actually put together a little home brew kit, which was this unimpressive gift of five gallon buckets and tubes and some bottle caps. I presented that to Kevin on Valentine’s Day and he ended up having to go buy more stuff at the home brewing store and was brewing that very weekend. He brewed an IPA and was pretty much brewing every single weekend after that.
Kevin Ryan: 2012 is when Meredith got me the home brewing kit. I started planning the brewery seven months later, started looking for space, started making a business plan, doing all those things you need to do to start a business.
KR: The state law in Georgia was not friendly for breweries when we started. One big challenge was that we had to start pretty big in order to be able to produce the amount of beer we needed to break even as a brewery in Georgia. We found this building here. Meredith’s best friend Lori Judge, got us the last best deal in Savannah! She is the best realtor in town if you’re ever looking!
CC: Talk to us about the culture y’all have also created with Service Brewing. It’s so incredibly distinct.
” We are veteran owned brewery and 20 out of 24 of our investors are veterans of army, navy, marines. We wanted to brew beer with a purpose. Part of our mission is to give back to charities that support service. We dedicate a portion of our revenues to charities that support service and that’s what we wanted to celebrate. Not to be exclusive, but to be inclusive so that anybody could come into the space and enjoy, celebrate service to the country or to the community.”
MS: We have been very focused on the Savannah community, but also educating the public about a lot of the smaller charities that are veteran and first responder focused. Right now, I think we’re at our 12th charity. We’re getting close to $70,000 in our first three years of business of charitable giving!
The charity that we’re supporting now is called Warrior Farms. They have a farm in north Georgia that uses agro-therapy as a way to heal wounded warriors with PTSD. They also have an educational part about it, where they’ve teamed up with UGA and you can get a credit, agriculture credit if you go through that program. Some of the charities don’t have all the resources they need. They’re 100% volunteer, they’re working out of their homes. A lot of the organizartions don’t have a budget for everything, because all the money is going to the recipient they help.
When we release a new beer, we also support a new charity. The space that we have, it’s very community focused on soldiers, but also on people that are doing community service. We have a lot of community service fundraisers in the brewery, say from Habitat For Humanity or Alzheimer’s research and more.
KR: We’ve also done a lot of hail and farewells. That’s when someone is leaving a company and or someone is coming into a company rank. Military units use it as an opportunity to introduce new people to the unit and recognize those who are leaving.
“I think people are starting to recognize the service aspect. A company was in here last week and they had their own day of service where everybody in the office chose to volunteer between two different local charities. They went out and spent the day working for those charities and afterwards, celebrated their day of service here at Service Brewing.”
CC: Why Savannah for y’all? Feasibly you could take this model and you could go anywhere you know? Why root down in Savannah?
MS: There’s definitely a lot easier places to do it.
CC: Right, that’s what I’m saying! It’s like you could go to North Carolina and probably not have to trail blaze in the way you have. So then why Savannah?
MS: I’ve lived here since my freshman year in college. I moved away for an artist in residency but came back. Savannah is very much my second home. I lived half my life in Raleigh and half my life here, we’re about equal now. Savannah is, I can’t imagine being anywhere else here. I have rooted down. Even Kevin’s mom lives in Hilton Head. He has family here. His uncle now lives there in Bluffton.
“I just couldn’t leave. Love kept me here.”
CC: That’s a totally good reason.
MS: If we hadn’t met, he could’ve! I don’t know, maybe if he wouldn’t have gotten a home brew kit himself. Maybe he would’ve. You never know. But maybe he would’ve gone somewhere and he wanted to open up a craft beer bar. He could’ve done that in a lot of places.
But ultimately, this is home and where we met and I’m not planning on leaving.
KR: We love the town. We love the community. Meredith knows just about everybody.
MS: We have so many friends here, so many makers and creatives. Our friend just had her grand opening- Laney Contemporary. That was such a cool party because it was basically like every artist in Savannah was there! And they’re all our friends and they are drinking our beer. It’s like having a wedding! Lots of events are like that in Savannah. That’s what’s great about this place is that you always see familiar faces, you always see people that you may have just seen the weekend before. That speaks so much of the community and the support out there that people are going out and celebrating what other people are doing.
CC: Pretty cool. We could drink that.
Learn all about the coolness of Service Brewing at their website: http://servicebrewing.com