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Alumni brew southern comfort for Athens

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Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:22 pm, Wed Mar 20, 2013.

Correction appended.

As it turns out, the easiest way to Athens’ heart is through its liver.

Two University of Georgia alumni handed out free beer on Saturday as they gave a group of locals a sneak peek at what will become a downtown brewery.

David Stein and Adam Beauchamp will convert the former Snow Tire building on West Hancock Avenue into the headquarters for Creature Comforts Brewing Co. The startup will release its first beer around August.

“The beer is in its pilot test-batch phase. We’re brewing a lot of beer right now to perfect our recipe,” Stein said. “We’ll be super local-focused for the first many years. We’re going to saturate Athens, then into Atlanta. We want to stay in Georgia for as long as we can.”

The soon-to-be brew masters went to UGA together in 2005, but realized their real passion had little to do with their degrees. Stein was an international affairs and religion major but got his start as a home brewer. He eventually landed a job as head brewer at Twain's Billiards & Tap in Decatur. Beauchamp studied genetics and ecology but ended up working for SweetWater Brewing Company.

“We knew each other professionally in some regard and knew we had complimentary skills and that we really collaborate well,” Beauchamp said. “I’ve been looking for a way to come back here for a long time. I couldn’t be more excited to move into this community and become a part of it.”

The pair teamed up with a third founder to handle the financial side of the business. They plan to make most their money off keg and bottled beer distribution but will also offer tours similar to those at Terrapin Beer Company. For $10, visitors will get a tour of the facility, a souvenir pint glass and about two hours of beer sampling.

“We’re doing our own thing,” Stein said. “I love those guys [at Terrapin], I love their beer. But we’re definitely going for our own unique vibe.”

With a prime downtown location, they hope Creature Comforts will become more than just a place where beer is made.

“We’re definitely going to try to push the envelope and try new things that are going to draw people in,” Beauchamp said. “We want to have a community focus. We want people to gather here, not just to drink beer like a bar, but when you show up here, you know your friends are here. You know the people pouring your beer, you know the guy that’s brewing your beer. It’s going to be a real focal point for this part of town.”

They plan to preserve as much of the historic Snow Tire building as possible. The glass storefront will stay, and left-behind mementos will become decorations. Comfortable seating and two bars will also be installed in what used to be the lobby of the tire shop.

“It’s awesome. Times morph things,” said David Lester, who remembers shopping at Snow Tire in '70s. “It’s great that these guys are coming and wanting to save the bones and integrity of the building. They really almost want to pay respect to Snow Tire. I think it’s a great way to repurpose the existing structure and go forward. It’s neat for downtown.”

With the renovation underway, the only thing left is the beer. Creature Comforts will pull influences from European, German and Belgian roots, as well as the American craft brewery movement. They said they’re “throwing off the reins of stylistic guidelines” as they try to answer the most important question: What do we like to drink?

“We’re going to blow you away with hops from time to time, but it’s going to be in a significant beer,” Beauchamp said. “It’s not just going to be 10 handfuls of hops in a two-pound sack. It’s going to be something that is substantial and has balance. That’s what beer is all about at the end of the day. You get the bitter with the sweet or the sour with the sweet. It’s balance. That’s absolutely critical.”

Correction: In a previous version of the article the word peek was misspelled. The Red & Black regrets the error.

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