Almost three months to the day after Akademia Brewing Company surprised Athens with an early soft opening, the brewpub will enter distribution for the first time.
Beginning with the first delivery on Jan. 12, select brews of Akademia beer will be in the market. IQ IPA and Niobe’s Tears gose are the first to be available to bars and restaurants in the Athens and Atlanta areas, with High IQ double IPA, Moirai Belgian tripel and Everything He Touches tart brett saison following soon.
“It was a milestone to be able to sit down at our bar and order an Akademia beer, but now the opportunity to grab a glass of Akademia at a bar or restaurant around town just feels incredible,” said Aaron Martin, Akademia’s beer consumption coordinator.
According to state law, breweries in Georgia aren’t able to distribute beer outside of their own establishments. That’s where the distribution partnership comes in: a distributor or wholesaler purchases beer from the brewpub and sells it to retailers. After much consideration, Akademia’s leadership team selected Georgia-based Modern Hops as their partner in this venture.
“There are a lot of big distributors with hundreds of brands doing wine and liquor and nobody was really focused on craft beer. We wanted to start something that was 100 percent dedicated to craft beer, but also doing things on the brewers’ terms,” said Eric Levin, owner and founder of Modern Hops. “We designed a model to pick up beer directly from the brewery. The kegs stay cold the entire time. … We don’t want to store beer, we want to get beer straight from the brewery that’s freshly kegged and put in the retailer’s hands.”
This model allows Modern Hops to deliver cans and kegs from its breweries to shelves the same day it’s produced, something he’s not seen often in the industry. Modern Hops is a fairly new company to the craft beer scene. Levin saw a need for it and began planning its business model about 15 months ago. Its first run was in May 2017 with beer from Cherry Street Brewing, another Georgia craft brewery.
Since its inception, Modern Hops added D9 Brewing Co., Superstition Meadery, Blue Pants Brewery and Piedmont Brewery and Kitchen to its repertoire.
“Part of the differentiator of Modern Hops, we have a small portfolio and it’s very curated. We don’t want to get a bunch of competing breweries or breweries making the same sort of style,” Levin said.
He said Modern Hops was drawn to Akademia because of its team and its product — his favorite beer here is High IQ double IPA. Having a brewpub in Athens, Georgia, didn’t hurt either.
“We really wanted to do our part in helping make Athens be more of a craft beer scene,” Levin said. “I think it has the ability to be another Asheville at some point in time, where some people come in for a weekend and are driven by the beer tourism.”
For Akademia’s part, owner Matt Casey chose Modern Hops to partner with because of the company’s eagerness to do business with the new brewpub and its willingness to creatively work an agreement that would allow both young companies to grow together.
“We are Akademia’s outside sales and marketing team for Athens and Atlanta,” Levin said.
He said this allows the Akademia team to focus on brewing and brewpub operations, and Modern Hops takes on the role of getting beer samples to new locations, delivering beer, working with the Akademia marketing crew to plan events and tap takeovers, taking orders and handling service with retailers. Levin’s group also ensures the beer maintains its characteristics and freshness once its in a retail establishment by cleaning the draft lines before installing a keg. This gets rid of any potential bacteria or off-flavors, making sure Night Owls new and old get the optimal taste of Akademia beer.
“It’s easy for us to become experts on those brands and to put [Akademia] on the forefront,” Levin said. “It’s a hard model; it’s an expensive model, but it’s worth it.”
The first accounts that will serve Akademia beer are in the Athens and Atlanta area. In the Classic City, Night Owls can look to imbibe at Catch-22 Gastropub, Blue Sky Bar and both Five Points Bottle Shop growler shop locations. For Atlanta area fans, kegs will soon be tapped at the Hop City Krog Street and West Midtown locations, The Tap on Ponce, My Parents’ Basement and Argosy.
“By the end of the year, we hope to have our beer throughout Athens and Oconee in our home markets, and in key accounts in Fulton, Gwinnett, DeKalb and Cobb counties. We should also be branching out to key accounts towards Augusta, Savannah and coastal Georgia,” Casey said.
Interested in having Akademia beer at your establishment? Contact Eric Levin at Eric@modernhops.com for more information.