Beer is at the forefront of any brewery, but Service Brewing Company (SBC) keeps its focus on serving the community.
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.”
“For many, that sacrifice leaves them in need,” Ryan explained. “We need to take care of the community that takes care of us. We bring attention to charities that are truly dedicated to helping those that serve.”
Each time the brewery releases one of its new military-inspired brews, they announce a new charity to endow. These charities range from local and regional to national organizations. In addition to supporting 200 Club of the Coastal Empire and Honor Flight Savannah, SBC has also supported many other causes. These include 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 an opportunity to bring a lot of great people to the brewery. We offer a great beer and a great cause,” Ryan revealed. “We throw a big party with great food and music and raffle off merchandise. Most importantly, we talk about the charity while sipping on our latest release.”
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
The brews that don’t teach guests about the military showcase craft beer to visitors. This line of brews is known as their R&D (research and development) Series. It is only available on tap at the brewery.
“These small batches incorporate a lot of ingredients from local farmers and businesses. We 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. We incorporate only one hop variety in the beer. This allows our patrons to experience all the different aromas and tasting notes each hop can contribute to a beer.”
Service Brewing Company has crafted brews conditioned with honey from their Brewery Bees. IPA are brewed with ASI tea and Savannah Bee Company Honey. Other popular beers are the Sour Cherry Chocolate Stout, Carrot Cake Ale, brewed with 17 pounds of Canewater Farm carrots. Another favorite is the Red, White and Blue beer—brewed with dried hibiscus flower, blueberries and white wheat.
Entering and Exploring
The inside of Service Brewing Company an airy industrial building. The sleek modern bar, made from recycled wood, sits in front of two repurposed shipping containers. 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.”
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 Company was 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.
“We have had so much community support. We’ve raise over $28,000 for charity, released 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.
“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. “Our beer fans are the best! The excitement really comes from having the opportunity to share our passion for the craft.”