Paul Trail, head brewer at the Freight and Rail Brewing Co. taking shape in Downtown Calhoun, said he first discovered the world of craft beer after moving from Gordon County to Montana and attending a beer festival.
Trail said the event changed his whole world and inspired him to attend the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago to learn how to make beer. Since then he’s worked doing just that back in Montana, Tennessee and Virginia, but he’s glad to now be home.
“I never thought it was going to be possible. I thought if I was ever going to come home I would have to give up brewing,” he said.
The Sonoraville High School graduate was one of several folks busy at the brewery on South Park Avenue on Thursday, hauling in kegs and working to get everything ready for an opening that the brewery partners hope will happen sooner rather than later.
Andrew Tierce, one of those partners who is opening the business along with Justin Childress and Dakota Rasbury, said Freight and Rail finally received all the federal permitting recently.
Up next, the Calhoun City Council will vote on Dec. 9 regarding local permits.
After that’s in place, state officials will then come in to sign off on the new brewery.
Tierce said they’d love to be open in time for the holiday season, but he’s thinking the first of the year will be more likely.
The brewery will open with 12 taps, offering a wide variety of locally crafted brews. The company has about $190,000 worth of brewing equipment in place, including five-barrel and one-barrel setups.
”That’s kind of what it takes though,” Tierce said. “The thing we kept asking ourselves was, ‘will this detract from the quality of the beer?’ We didn’t want to take shortcuts. We wanted to do it right.”
A barrel contains 31.5 gallons, so Trail will have the option of batch sizes depending on demand, and Tierce said the plan is to allow customers to decide what sort of beers they make.
”We’re going to let our customers tell us that,” he said, adding that craft beer fans typically journey in their preferences from style to style. “The thing is, I don’t want anything to come out of the tap that I wouldn’t drink.”
For his part, Trail said he enjoys making lagers and pilsners.
”You really have to know what you are doing to get those right. It’s challenging, but those are fun,” Trail said.
Tierce noted that California, which has typically been the birthplace for new craft beer trends, is seeing a boom in both of those styles right now, and he expects that wave to eventually head east. Those kind of beers also make it easier for beer drinkers to transition to craft choices, he said, because most of the big brand beer companies rely heavily on lagers and pilsners.
That said, Freight and Rail will offer a wide range of styles.
”A lot of the fun comes from trying different stuff,” Tierce said.
The Freight and Rail Brewing Company is currently under construction at the corner of South Park Avenue and Oothcalooga Street. In addition to a large bar constructed from railroad ties and rails, the space will include a stage for live performances.