Somehow, the conversation shifts to Chinese privet. Adam Beauchamp, 31, is sitting in front of Ted's Most Best in downtown Athens, where the patio smells like pizza and the happy hour pours of Bell's Hopslam are a delightful $2.50. He's musing on a period in his life when a deciduous shrub known as ligustrum sinense took up more of his mind than opening a brewery. At the time, he was working on an ecology degree from the University of Georgia.
Beauchamp eventually pursued a genetics and molecular biology graduate program at Emory, but after completing 90 percent of the program he decided hard science and academia wasn't for him.
He left Emory in 2006, and started volunteering at SweetWater Brewery. He stacked cases at the end of the packaging line for a few weeks before getting hired (read: paid) to do the same thing. Eventually he got off the bottling line and worked in SweetWater's cellar and lab. When a brewing position opened up, he took it, working directly under head brewer Nick Nock.
"I told them in the beginning that I was going to be there three years, that I wanted to learn everything I could, and that I was gonna start my own brewery," he says. "It took me seven."
Describe your first beer.
I remember stealing Coronas from my friend's dad when I was probably in seventh grade. We didn't have a bottle opener, so we took them into the neighborhood pool and were trying to rip off the caps with the chain-link fence. We ended up injuring ourselves.
What got you interested in genetics?
I think I watched Jurassic Park too many times when I was a kid. [laughs] DNA was this all-powerful, super-interesting thing to me. I went into college with that major, stuck with it, and along the way I took a lot of ecology classes. I got really into understanding [environmental] issues, and ended up taking so many ecology classes that they were like, "You can just get an ecology major now," and I was like, "I'll take it!"
How'd you become partners with David Stein?
We were acquaintances [in college] and would see each other at parties. [After college,] I heard he was turning some heads in Decatur, and I knew he had some marketing skills. I know what kind of beer I like to drink, but I wasn't sure how to brand it. I just sent him a message on Facebook one day. We met up, and it was pretty obvious there was potential.
Aside from the Pilsner, IPA, Rye Amber, and Berliner Weisse in your core lineup, what should Georgia beer drinkers expect in the future?
We value creativity. It's a premium to us. We hired [head brewer] Blake Tyers because we feel like he's a fountain of creativity. We're big fans of Crooked Stave and New Belgium-style sours ... so we've got some stuff up our sleeve on that. We like really flavorful wild ales, and that'll probably be our first major thing. The first one is probably gonna be a collaboration with Journey Juice — it's cold-pressed juice. They're gonna do some kiwi and pineapple juice for us, and we'll put it in a Brett saison beer.
It seems like you're excited about the future.
We want to have a farmhouse brewery eventually. We look at this facility as our in-town, public-facing, come-see-us [location]. Hopefully, eventually, it's more of just a wood cellar with foeders and barrel storage and a brewhouse that feeds only that. Then we'd have an off-site warehouse where we could crank out our core line, and ideally that would be on a farm, because there's beautiful land outside of Athens for extremely cheap. We'd like to have an orchard. We look at it like Creature Comforts is bigger than beer. Obviously, there are some things we have to take care of first.