Sande Edwards does a lot of things. She lives in Lawrenceville, working in Snellville as a graphic designer and print shop manager. She runs Beer Head, which she describes as "kinda like a social media marketing blog beer lover thing" with a laugh. And for the last six months, she's worked on the Georgia Craft Beer Guild's social media marketing and membership efforts. "I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up, and I'm almost 40," she admits. "I'm just taking it one day at a time, doing what I love to do."
Edwards first started getting serious about craft beer in 2011 while living in Arlington, Va. When her boyfriend took a job that would bring them back to Georgia (they're both natives of the Atlanta metro area), she started looking into the Peach State's craft scene. A few Googles later, she was networking with folks of varying trades (ice cream, blogging, marketing, brewing), immersing herself into the region's beer ecosystem. When Creative Loafing sat down with Edwards at the Porter, she spoke warmly of early Coors memories, frustratedly of lobbying efforts, and optimistically about Georgia's craft beer future.
Describe your first beer.
More than likely, it was a Coors Light that my dad let me sip as an infant. High school was still stealing Coors Light out of daddy's cooler in the back of the truck. College was graduating to Mickey's Big Mouth — a nice headache beer. Ice House. Killian's Red. At the end of 2011, I was making handmade journals, and someone asked me if I could make a beer journal. In my investigating, I discovered there were actually things to know about beer. I was in Arlington and I created a Meetup group to meet like-minded people and hopefully sell my journal, but I ended up having more fun hanging out with beer drinkers and tasting beers, and it became more of a thing.
How did you end up getting to know Georgia's beer people?
I ended up meeting Aly [Moler] with Frozen Pints and Sarah [Young] with Wild Heaven and Jess [Miller] from Hey, Brewtiful. We would meet up and have a "ladies who like beer" thing going on. I ended up eventually finding the Guild and emailing Gail [Smith] of O'Dempsey's and John Roberts of Max Lager's, and they said they'd love for me to come on board at the Guild for social media and marketing, but that they had no money. Now, six months later, I'm getting a stipend, so I'm an employee of the Guild.
What have you learned in those six months?
Lobbying efforts are difficult. And when you're trying to run your own business, like [Moon River brewmaster and GCBG president] John Pinkerton is doing in Savannah, then having to take what small amount of time you have to come to Atlanta to try to fight for Georgia brewers rights — I mean, he's really putting his heart and soul into it. He's hoping to get enough money into the Guild so we can hire an executive director who can really take the helm and solely dedicate their time to that.
What's the beer scene like in Lawrenceville?
It's kind of a wasteland. There's one little oasis called Local Republic. It's really nice, really small, like a converted gas station with a lot of small plates and probably 10 on draft, with usually a good bit of local. There's a nice growler shop [Exhibit A(le)] across the street. A lawyer owns it. Both of them are in downtown Lawrenceville. Otherwise, there isn't much going on, you drive 40 minutes into Atlanta and do cool stuff.
How are you focusing your efforts in the coming months?
I hope we get an executive director and I can help them spread the word, get some kind of bill passed. My main focus is sharing what the Georgia brewers are doing, what's going on with them. Also, increasing membership. I want to do more things for our enthusiast members. We're close to 200, which is up from 50 when I started six months ago.