Akademia Brewing Company Enters Distribution

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.

Eric Levin, owner of Modern Hops

“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.

Welcome, Night Owls!

Akademia Brewing Company will finally, finally, open its doors on Monday, Oct. 16! We are super excited about joining the Athens community as its newest brewpub, serving up fresh food and beer on tap for both lunch and dinner, seven days a week.

You may have been following our progress for a while, but just in case, here’s a little of our backstory. Owners Matt Casey and Morgan Wireman (who we like to call our brewmaster) met several years ago through homebrewing. At the time, Matt already had it in his mind that he wanted to open a brewery of some sort, and combining his business acumen with Morgan’s brewing prowess, a partnership of Titan-ic proportions was born.

Akademia went through a few iterations before the final concept was settled on. One you may recognize is Big Springs Brewing, a concept originated by Morgan and a good friend.

Morgan and his friend started homebrewing together about 10 years ago and fell in love with craft beer after a trip to Cologne, Germany (our kolsch-style ale came from this trip). Their beer started winning awards, so they started designing a brewery for Oconee County. That’s where the name Big Springs Brewing came from, named after the original moniker for the city of Watkinsville. Unfortunately, Oconee County wasn’t the most alcohol-friendly area in which to develop a brewery, so the two started looking at Athens instead.

The friend chose to pursue a different career path, and a week later Morgan met Matt, who walked into a local homebrew shop with an idea for a brewpub — and no knowledge of how to brew beer. They hit it off, Morgan taught Matt the tricks of the trade and together, the new duo began making strides toward turning Big Springs Brewing from a concept to a real-life brewpub.

Fear of potential future trademark disputes necessitated a new name. Matt and Morgan brainstormed new concepts, and the idea for Akademia was born.

Now that we’re dedicated to the pursuit of higher-gravity education, however, you can rest assured that we aren’t going anywhere. There’s something to be said for a “victory lap” of classes, right?

Just like your professors handed you syllabi when you stepped into your first day of class, we’re going to give you a breakdown of what you can expect from us now, and what we hope to bring you the further along we go.

Our beers are bold, flavorful and a little something different than what you may be accustomed to. We want to provide high-quality beer to tantalize your taste buds. Some styles will be familiar — think IPAs, the kolsch-style ale, sessions and saisons — but others could be your first foray into that particular pint, like our ESB, tart brett saison or tripel, or a return to a style you haven’t had since your 21st birthday.

Our food is taste-tested and brewer-approved, featuring seasonal ingredients from local producers as often as possible. We have protein and veggie options for all palates, whether you’re a staunch Night Owl or just a Young Philosopher.

Akademia is a local, family-owned business and we make it our goal to work with other Georgia and Southern companies as often as possible: aging beer in a barrel from one of our state’s distilleries, using a crowler machine manufactured across the street from the brewpub, decorating our building with murals and woodworks from area artisans.

We are a place for you to call home, whether you’re here for four years, a dedicated “townie” or just visiting for one of those legendary Saturdays in Athens. We’re a place to bring your clients for a working lunch; a pint to gather your friends around after the workday is done; a family-friendly locale outside the hustle and bustle of downtown, but still in the heart of Bulldog Country.

As often as possible, Akademia Brewing will not only just serve you beer and food, but we’ll help you craft an appreciation for it. We plan to launch a loyalty program for our most ardent Night Owls, and we’ll bring you plenty of gear and swag to sport around town. Our event space, which won’t be quite ready opening night, will soon be a place for you to bring your student organization, business or family function. And as we continue to get our feet securely under us, Akademia will start off some “irregular, regular” traditions — new one-off brews, house beers and seasonal releases. We’ll also put together our canning line, but in the meantime, you can enjoy your favorite drafts here, via keg or crowler.

Night Owls, your patience will be rewarded as we wind down construction and gear up production. We’re hop-ping up and down with excitement, and hope y’all are, too. We hope to see you here Oct. 16!