Of course beer is at the forefront of any brewery, but here in Savannah, tucked away on the edge of the Historic District, Service Brewing Company (SBC) keeps service and community right at the forefront. One of Savannah’s best kept secrets, this veteran-owned, military-themed and service-oriented brewery is doing things a little different from their counterparts.
Opened and operated by former U.S. Army Company Commander Kevin Ryan, the brewery not only satisfies the craft beer cravings of Georgia’s First City, but also gives back to the community, which is at the core of the business—serving others. The name and everything inside—from the huge American flag framed above their industrial metal-and-wood bar to the “How do you serve?” board—point back to this core concept.
“People are making sacrifices for their country and community everyday, and for many, that sacrifice leaves them in need,” Ryan explained. “We need to take care of the community that takes care of us. By giving back to charities that are truly dedicated to helping those that serve, we can help support our community and bring attention to these great charities.”
Each time the brewery releases one of its new military-inspired brews—which is made up of the year-round Ground Pounder Pale Ale, Compass Rose IPA, Rally Point Pilsner, Battlewagon Double IPA and Scouts Out Honey Saison—they announce a new charity to give back to, ranging from local and regional to national organizations. In addition to supporting 200 Club of the Coastal Empire and Honor Flight Savannah, Service Brewing Co. has also supported Healing 4 Heroes, K9’s for Warriors, Homes For Our Troops, Stop Soldier Suicide, Raider Project and Honor our Heroes Foundation.
“Releasing a new beer creates a great opportunity to bring a lot of great people to the brewery for a great beer and a great cause,” Ryan revealed. “We throw a big party, have great food and music, raffle off merchandise, and talk about the charity while sipping on our latest release.”
On June 11, 2016, the brewery released its first summer seasonal, the Gun Bunny Wit, and revealed the Tiny House Project for Homeless Veterans as their new charity.
Learning a Little
While supporting causes that are close to their hearts, SBC also uses its brews to educate the public. Take the Gun Bunny Wit, for instance.
This beer, brewed with a good amount of flaked wheat, over 60 pounds of Mandarin orange and Tangelo peel, cardamom, as well as the traditional addition of Indian Coriander seed, was named after the field artillery men and women in the armed forces. The military slang “Gun Bunny” referred to the soldiers operating mortars, as they were commonly in “rabbit holes” dug out by comrades for protection.
Their Teufel Hunden (“Devil Dogs”) Oktoberfest-style Marzen calls to the fearsome nickname given to the U.S. Marines fighting by the Germans they fought in WWI, while Old Guard Biere de Garde honors the prestigious 3rd U.S. Infantry, which serves as the official escort to the president, also known as the Old Guard.
Sampling Small Batches
And the brews that don’t teach guests about the military showcase the many possibilities of craft beer to visitors. This line of brews is known as their R&D (research and development) Series and is brewed in small batches, only available on tap at the brewery.
“These small batches incorporate a lot of local ingredients from local farmers and businesses, allowing us to push the envelope with some old world recipes, and keep our regulars coming back for our latest creations,” Ryan explained. “Right now, we are working on a recurring Single Hop Project series, where we incorporate only one hop variety in the beer to allow our patrons to really experience all the different aromatic profiles and tasting notes each hop can contribute to a beer.”
So far, Service Brewing Co. has crafted brews conditioned with honey from their Brewery Bees (thanks to SCAD grad/Marketing Director/Co-Owner and Beekeeper Meredith Sutton), an IPA brewed with ASI tea and Savannah Bee Company Honey, as well as a Maple Porter, Strawberry Chocolate IPA, Jalapeño Lime Lager, Savannah Banana Ale and their more popular Sour Cherry Chocolate Stout, Carrot Cake Ale, brewed with 17 pounds of Canewater Farm carrots, and Red, White and Blue beer—brewed with dried hibiscus flower, blueberries and white wheat.
Entering and Exploring
Inside the airy and industrial building, guests are greeted by a sleek modern bar made from recycled wood in front of two repurposed shipping containers, from which bartenders and brewers will serve patrons with their constantly changing beer offerings. In addition to six year-round brews and two R&D’s pouring, they’ve also come to keep an old-fashioned (non-alcoholic) root beer on tap. Customers can down their brew at the bar, sip while playing ping pong or reading their “How Do You Serve?” board, inspired by the interactive public art installation, “Before I Die,” by artist Candy Chang in Downtown Savannah.
They adapted her concept using a large chalkboard, inviting guests to write and fill it up with anecdotes.
“Our ‘How Do You Serve,’ wall is a place for our patrons to tell their stories of selfless service to our country and our community,” Ryan said. “It’s been pretty cool to see our patrons interact with it. From educators, to soldiers, to animal rescuers; it’s a wall that has been touched by good people.”
For Ryan, the most memorable moment was when the 15th Sergeant Major of the Army, Dan Dailey came in for a visit and wrote, “Never, and I mean never forget that I am just a soldier, no better or worse than any other.”
Talk of the Town
Since word has gotten out about this hoppin’ brewery, Service Brewing Co. has been named “Newcomer of the Year” by Business in Savannah, one of the “South’s Best Breweries” by Southern Living and “Best Local Brewery” by Eat it and Like It. With a barrel-aging system in the works and a Single Hop Series just getting started, there is much to look forward to in their third year of business, which kicks off with a celebration on July 23, 2016 from 7-11 p.m.
“It’s hard to believe it is already the end of our second year. In these two years, we have had so much community support and have been able to raise over $28,000 for charity, release 11 production beers and over four dozen small batch R&D beers. I’d say we definitely have reason to throw a party,” said Ryan.
The anniversary celebration will feature performances by The Whigs and Susto and the release of a special anniversary Pale American-Belgo-Style Ale, SBC2, which was cultured from honeycomb collected from the small brewery apiary. The veteran-owned Big Bon Pizza will supply the party with handcrafted pizzas made with locally-sourced ingredients and guided tours of the brewery will be available throughout the night. Tickets are $45 and include the concert, food and a brewery tour with 36-ounce of beer tastings, as well as a souvenir bottle of SBC2 Anniversary Ale with a limited edition glass.
“We are most thankful for the support we have received from our community and throughout the country. We couldn’t do what we do without their support,” Ryan exclaimed. “We love our beer fans! The excitement really comes from having the opportunity to share our passion for the craft.”