Daughters, fathers-in-law and friends turned out Tuesday for what could possibly be the last canning run at Rome’s only brewery.
“The reality is this could be our last canning run, obviously I hope not,” part owner Jay Shell said as he watched labels being affixed to cans. “Today we’re hoping to get about 350 cases ready for distribution.”
As they stacked pallets of Downtown Brown and Short Hot Blonde — a couple of the signature brews at Rome City Brewing Co. — they canned, labeled and prepped the beer for shipping.
They’d also contracted with a local distributor — Beverage South in West Rome — to get the product to consumers.
But the economic downturn hasn’t been kind to the company that by all measures had been doing well, Shell said. They’d expanded distribution from locally to Northwest Georgia and then into Alabama, but sales dried up.
“There’s a lot of beer that’s going out of date and we’ve had no luck with insurance companies to cover the loss,” Shell said.
Now they’re taking it week by week and day by day.
Looking at their stock, they decided to do the last canning run.
“Let’s go down fighting if we can,” Shell said. “We had enough beer and had enough labels for a canning run.”
So they brought in IronHeart Canning based in Marietta for that last run. Combined with the new distribution contract, Shell said, they’re going to get local brews onto the shelves of grocery stores.
“Ninety-five percent of this will go out into Northwest Georgia,” he said, gesturing toward a pallet of Short Hot Blonde cans.
There’s still hope for a small business loan to come through, he said, and River City Bank has been good to them so far.
“They deferred payments from the get go,” Shell said, but despite having a low overhead, the dip in sales has hit them hard. “We’re not ready to give up yet.”
The brewing company’s property at 333 and 331 Broad St. has been listed for sale since April and one of the plans, if the building sells, is to possibly move the business. That’s all up in the air at this point.
Whether it works out or not, Shell said he’s looking to diversify his personal portfolio.
“I’m looking for a job,” he said. “If you’re looking (for someone to hire), I’ve got a good resume.”