Photograph by Leigh Germy
David Stein, the soon-to-be former head brewer at Twain’s, is gearing up to launch the microbrewery Creature Comforts next year. Slated for a mid-2013 opening in downtown Athens, Stein plans to make his new brewing home in the historic Snow Tire building. The Creature Comforts space will include a thirty-barrel brewhouse, with the initial capacity to brew up to 6,000 barrels in the first year. That’s 189,000 gallons of beer, folks. Go Athens, it’s your birthday!
Stein, an Atlanta-native and University of Georgia alumnus, has had an ambitious run the past several years, working his way up the beer ladder from home-brewing beginnings.
Congratulations on your forthcoming brewery. You’ve still got a haul, I know, but this has been a long time coming for you. Thanks. I leave Twain’s on December 21, which is coincidentally the end of the world.
Way to get your goals accomplished just before the big deadline. Yeah, I’ll be moving up to Athens in February and will be full-time at Creature Comforts, focusing on the build-out, the development, pilot batches, and perfecting recipes. We’re hoping that our equipment will arrive in June at the latest, and we’ll be brewing by July or August. I just wanted to get up to Athens and get back into the scene. Since I went to UGA, I kind of feel like I’m going back home.
Who are you taking with you? We recruited a brewer who went to UGA and there are a couple of other brewers that we’re looking at hiring, one of whom also went to UGA. So a lot of Athens alumni migrating back.
What newness is Creature Comforts going to bring to the Georgia beer scene? We’ll be releasing an IPA at about 6.5 percent, tropical fruit-driven. We’re bringing out a true German-style Pilsner using Noble hops, I’m excited about that. We’re also going to release a Berliner Weisse in our core line. And we’re doing a Rye Amber, probably with about 20 percent of rye. That will be a flavorful, slightly maltier, darker beer than the rest of the mix.
No stout? Pout, pout. An oatmeal stout will probably be the next year-round beer, but I didn’t want to do that right off the bat.
And specialties? We’re planning a barrel-aged program with some cool collaborations. One with Hugh Acheson and his restaurants. We’ll take the Berliner Weisse and age them in smaller batches, then hand it over to Hugh and his chefs. That will add a whole new culinary element for us, people are already doing it. We’re also thinking about a barrel-aged series with Five Point Bottle Shop. We’ve got a few other things lined up, too.
You’ve made some swift progress since your days at Brick Store Pub. That was my first beer gig, just waiting tables and immersing myself in all their beers. It really allowed me to build my palette and learn about all the different styles and brewery histories. When I started there I didn’t like any Belgian beers. Then I realized there’s a lot more than just super floral, yeasty Belgians, and I wasn’t into that. Then I got to delve into the specialty darks, Orval, all the Trappist beers, and sours. Brick Store definitely educated me and helped me network within the industry.
And then you went on to Twain’s. I had been home-brewing even before Brick Store, but getting hooked into Twain’s was the perfect next step for a home brewer aspiring to start a microbrewery. I was able to scale up all my recipes, showcase my beer to the public, and learn larger-scale equipment.
Where did the name ‘Creature Comforts’ come from? It started with the artwork. My friend, Julian Bozeman, is an Athens-based artist and he does a lot of woodblock carving prints of imaginary creatures. I always loved them and collected the originals. Once I got serious about starting a brewery I always knew I wanted to use his artwork on the labels. He came up with the actual name.
Beer is certainly a creature comfort. Yes, and I do have plans to build the brand beyond beer, to any other creature comfort. I would be open to distilling, or getting into wine. I want to start roasting coffee, too—that’s probably the most realistic next step. Maybe even start a creamery and make cheese.
Don’t forget about us out here in Atlanta. No way. Atlanta is always going to be super important, our second home.