Like the rest of us, the local craft beer breweries, businesses and restaurants were shoring up to weather the storm or preparing their sites ahead of an evacuation. We all hoped for the best but prepared for the worst. Fortunately for most of the local craft beer scene, all was well after Hurricane Matthew blew through. I spoke with several of owners of the local spots about the storm and how they fared.
Southbound Brewing’s co-owner Carly Wiggins tells me, “Luckily we didn’t have any issues that affected the brewery directly. Many of the employees had some damage done to their homes, but nothing that can’t be fixed eventually.”
Owner Kevin Ryan was pleased with the way that his Service Brewing held up in the storm. “The brewery weathered the storm without any damage or significant loss of power! We did not lose any beer but the Hurricane has put us WAY behind on Lincoln’s Gift. Bluffton Oyster Company was not able to begin harvesting until the first of October this year, one month late, and then the storm has kept them out of the water for at least a week. We were targeting a November fifth release, but that isn¹t possible at this time.”
Coastal Empire fared almost as well with only minor damage according to co-owner Chris Haborak. “All in all we fared pretty well. No physical damage to the brewery. We had some water come into the tap room area from the roof but it was easily removed and created no damage. Biggest issue was we were without power for several days but it was restored in time so that we did not lose any product.”
Some of the local craft restaurants fared better than others. Ben’s Neighborhood Grill and Tap was able to open right after the storm. The menu was limited but they were able to serve up hot meals the Saturday of the storm.
All of the craft beer bottle shops, White Whale, Hops and Barley and Habersham were able to open within a few days of the storm, delayed more by a lack of electricity that any damage.
The curfew that was enforced after Hurricane Mathew was perceived by many as a hindrance to local businesses, especially bars and restaurants that cater to late evenings. Most of the owners I spoke with did not see the situation that way and some were pleased that the curfew was enacted.
Wiggins tells me “As a business it doesn’t affect us too much. Our hours of public operation are done before that. We have had to adjust our brewing/packaging schedules but we are making it work. The production team works in shifts. First shift generally starts at 6:00 am and last shift ends around midnight, sometimes later. Personally, I don’t mind the curfew given that many out there still don’t have power and some are being taken advantage of by looters. Unfortunately, we’ve had some neighbors that have been affected by this. It makes me feel safer to know the police are out enforcing this to help protect our homes and businesses.”
Ryan comments are very similar. “I think it is in everyone’s best interest. There is so much debris, so many dangers on the road, and a lot of businesses that do not have power, that it is best to reduce the night time traffic and keep people and drivers off the roads. They are most likely less alert than they would normally be. I know it sucks for local businesses that have already lost money from the storm, but public safety is more important in my opinion.”
Green Truck Pub was closed for several days following the storm but was able to celebrate reopening on the date of their sixth anniversary. They did change their scheduled based on the curfew, announcing an 8:30 closing time but did change to a later opening after the curfew was lifted on Wednesday.
Ultimately, the storm in one way or another affected our local craft beer businesses. Take some time and spend a little money at one or more of these locations. Your money and patronage will be appreciated and supports the local beer community and all their employees.
Here are a few events you can attend:
Coastal Empire: 10/21 Booze & Boos which will feature a local Historian telling stories by the campfire. Coastal will release a Maple Espresso Porter for the event.
Southbound Brewing: Saturday 10/29 Blues & Brews – Three local Savannah blues bands (Broken Glow, Jubal Kane & Hitman). $25 ADV | $30 DOS includes: beer samples through out the duration of the event, performance and a souvenir pint glass. Dark Shark Taco Food Truck will have food available for purchase. 7-10pm