Beer’s Roots

When beer changed in Georgia


MARIETTA, Ga. – Since its humble beginning, beer has evolved from ale to lager to specialty brew, spawning the explosion of the craft beer industry.

American history is brimming with tales of beer and its place in the growth of a nation. Journals found on the Mayflower indicate the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock because they were out of beer and needed to make more.

The first permanent structure to be built in the new world was a brewery and Americans have been brewing beer ever since — even during Prohibition.


Georgia’s Hoppy History

Georgia’s brewing history began in 1738, six years after the state became the last of the 13 colonies. Originally, the Peach State was a colony of debtors. Yup, debtors. James Oglethorpe, a British general and member of Parliament, had a good friend who died of smallpox in a debtor’s prison in England. After the Prison Reform Act of 1729, spearheaded by Oglethorpe, many debtors were released from prison adding to the unemployed throngs in England.

Oglethorpe approached King George II with a proposal to establish a colony for debtors between the Spanish in Florida and the English in South Carolina. In his proposal, Oglethorpe explained that debtors would work off their debts, the unemployed would have work and there would be a military buffer between Florida and South Carolina. The king granted permission.

A major hurdle in the new colony of Georgia was hydration. Initially, there was a ban on alcohol (as well as gambling, slavery, lawyers and Catholics) so the only source of hydration was the water supply. Colonists began dying of dysentery. While Oglethorpe left for England to ask the king’s permission to change the “no alcohol” rule, Major William Horton took control of the helm and eliminated the ban after a bloodless revolution by the colonists.

When Oglethorpe returned, he was furious but realized no one was dying. For saving the lives of those remaining, Horton was lauded a hero and given control of Jekyll Island. Horton established a farm that grew crops to supply the troops at Fort Frederica. Two of his crops were barley and hops – the key ingredients in beer making.

In 1738, Horton founded the South’s first brewery on Jekyll Island. Thus, beer became integrated into the colonial way of life in Georgia.


With the advent of commercial refrigeration in 1860, automatic bottling, pasteurization in 1876 and railroad distribution, the modern era of brewing began. In the latter part of the 19th century, brewing was a big business. Beer surpassed distilled spirits in 1890 and became the main source of alcoholic beverage in America.

The U.S. beer industry continued to grow into thousands of breweries until Prohibition in 1920. The 18th Amendment prohibited the making, transporting, and selling of alcoholic beverages. Advocates believed that alcohol was harmful and caused many social problems including crime and corruption. Breweries either closed their doors, converted to soft drink factories or turned their manufacturing process to malt extract, advertising it as a product for “bread making”. The real reason people bought it, though, was to make their own beer known as homebrew.

In 1933, the 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition. After 13 years, 10 months, 19 days, 17 hours, and 32 minutes, Prohibition ended with Franklin Delano Roosevelt commenting, “What America needs now is a drink.”

Birth of Craft Beer

 By the late 1970s, marketing campaigns had changed America’s beer preference to light, low-calorie lager beers. The traditions and styles brought over by immigrants from around the world were disappearing. Enter homebrewing.

The homebrewing hobby took off because it was the only way a person in the United States could experience the beer traditions and styles of different countries.

“I think it (craft beer) became popular because people were sick of the same five choices for decades and decades,” said Zack Mulazzi at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw. “After the big uprising of craft beer in the mid- to late-‘90s, it became a fight to see who could brew the best tasting beer.”

From these roots sprouted the craft brewing industry.

By definition, an American craft brewer is small, independent and innovative. Craft beer is generally made with traditional ingredients as well as non-traditional ingredients allowing each brewer to put their own twist and signature spin on their product.

Craft Brewing in Georgia


Georgia’s craft beer takes up four sections at Total Wine & More. Photo by Claudette Enners
Georgia’s first craft brewer, Red Brick Brewing, was founded in 1993. Originally called Atlanta Brewing Co., its trademark ale was going to be named after the long-time brew master John J. Bips. Instead, the brewery elected to use its own name for Red Brick Ale in 2010.

The Red Brick name was derived from a speech given by Atlanta’s mayor in the disastrous wake of General Sherman’s march through Atlanta, stating the city would be rebuilt “one red brick at a time.”

Today, the craft beer industry is thriving. Statistics gathered by the Brewers Association indicate that in 2016 there were a total of 5,301 U.S. breweries, of which 5,234 are categorized as craft breweries. Craft breweries include regional craft breweries, microbreweries and brew pubs. Georgia has a total of 58 craft beer breweries.

Restaurants statewide offer local and national craft beers. Moxie Burger, with three locations in northwest Georgia, is one of them. Co-founder Jordan Pearl believes the industry is very competitive based on the variety of craft beers available.

“I think people like to drink and people like new things,” said Pearl. “This relatively new market has a cult following because there is constant change and improvement in the quality and selection available.

“People like to boast that they have had something that their peers have not. A lot of the seasonal beers are made in small batches that are hard to get. This drives demand and word of mouth marketing. Although that specific beer isn’t always available, the brewery is.”

Economic Impact

As of 2016, Georgia’s craft breweries produced 392,000 barrels of beer contributing to positive economic growth in the state. Overall figures from 2014 indicate small, independent craft brewers contributed $55.7 billion to the U.S. economy.

moxie burger
The original Moxie Burger is at Paper Mill Village in East Cobb. Photo by Claudette Enners
Many factors contribute to calculating economic impact. The most obvious is the direct impact craft brewers have on employment but indirect impacts are included in the calculations. Some examples include: suppliers who provide raw materials and equipment to make beer, construction companies who build the facilities, distributors and wholesalers who provide their services, as well as indirect sales on food and merchandise in restaurants and brew pubs.

The bottom line is more employment means more disposable income which means more spending which positively impacts economic growth.

In his article, How Beer Single-Handedly Saved the State of Georgia, Michael Lundmark concluded that because beer saved Georgia (referencing the hydration dilemma colonists faced) we should honor Georgia’s history with a commitment to consuming beer for our health. With the majority of Americans living within 10 miles of a brewery, that shouldn’t be too hard.


Going the Extra Mile


MARIETTA, Ga. — Aahhh, the great outdoors. Nature has such a positive effect nature on our physical and emotional wellbeing. Nature offers us a realm for exercise, solitude and spiritual awakening.

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks,” 19th Century environmentalist John Muir once said.

Recognizing this, nature clubs have sprung up throughout Georgia offering year-round activities on land and on water. Many of these activities take place in state parks and historic sites around the state which offer safe sanctuaries for hiking, biking, running, kayaking and canoeing.

Clubs, by definition, are associations of two or more people sharing a common interest or goal. Nature is defined as the physical world and everything in it including animals, plants and landscapes. The unifying mission of Georgia’s nature clubs is getting people outside and enjoying nature.

Organized Club

The Atlanta Outdoor Club was founded in 2000 and is one of the larger outdoor clubs in the Atlanta area with 2,797 active members. Also known as the AOC, it offers a variety of activities for adults of all ages and skill levels.

Deb Riecke, a member and volunteer trip leader,  joined the club in 2013.

Deb Riecke has been an Atlanta Outdoor Club member for four years. Photo by Claudette Enners

After years of being sidetracked with work and family, “I joined the AOC as a way to get back in shape and meet new people,” said Riecke. “I am most involved in hiking and kayaking but we also do camping, backpacking, canoeing, biking, a little bit of spelunking and rock climbing.”

Most of the hikes that Riecke leads are at Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area parks. Her favorite units are Vickery Creek, Island Ford, Gold Branch and Cochran Shoals.

Riecke’s gear. Photo by Claudette Enners

The club’s trip leaders frequently use Georgia’s national parks for their activities because the parks are well maintained and safe, parking is accessible and, if there is a fee, it is minimal.

It costs nothing to join the Atlanta Outdoors Club, but members spend money depending on the event in which they are participating.

Spontaneous Meetup Group

Meetup groups offer a plethora of spontaneous adventure opportunities in Georgia. Any member can post a meetup event online. This is different from clubs like the Atlanta Outdoors Club  because a trained leader is not mandatory to organize and lead the event.

There are 101 meetup groups tagged as Outdoor & Adventure groups within 25 miles of Atlanta. The number of registered members varies greatly from 30 to 6,194 in each group. The group names are unique and provide initial information about the group. For example:

  • Backpacking Adventures: “Take-A-Hike”, focuses on back-country hiking, hiking and backpacking, backpacking and camping and ultralight backpacking. It was founded in 2016 and has 359 hikers.
  • Georgia Adventurers Group, founded in 2008, not only offers its 6,194 members activities for fitness but knowledge as well. They take to the land, water and sky with guide books and cameras in hand.
  • Creative Recreation for Adventurous People (C.R.A.P.), clearly has a humorous take on its group which was founded in 2013 and consists of 2,589 members who call themselves “crappers”. Unlike other adventure groups, this one also includes dining out and arts and entertainment in its event listings.
  • Trails with Tails, its motto is “Have dog, will hike!” Founded in 2014, there are 497 hikers with paws. Despite its name, you don’t need a dog to participate in moderate to fast-paced trail hikes ranging from four to 15 miles.

Membership fees are set by each group as are the costs involved in each meetup activity.

Environmental Club

The Sierra Club was founded by environmentalist John Muir in 1892. It is the largest, most influential grassroots environmental organization in the nation.

The mission of the Sierra Club is:

  • To explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth;
  • To practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources;
  • To educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment;
  • And to use all lawful means to carry out those objectives.

Georgia’s chapter began in 1983 to help protect Georgia communities. With over 45,000 members, the chapter is comprised of six groups divided by region: Centennial (Cobb, Cherokee and North Fulton Counties), Coastal (Chatham County-Savannah), Gwinnett (Gwinnett County), LaGrange (Troup County-LaGrange), Metro Atlanta (Fulton/DeKalb County-Atlanta) and Savannah River (SRG) (Richmond County and surrounding counties-Augusta).

Regional calendars are broken down into categories for outings, club-sponsored, social and activist events. Membership is not required to participate in chapterwide events.

“The Sierra Club is an inclusive organization,” said Georgia’s Chapter Coordinator Jessica Morehead. “We want to make our events available to all.”

The club also emphasizes the need to be eco-friendly. Among the current environmental impact issues being addressed are transit expansion, clean energy advocacy and wild and public land protection. The Centennial group is currently focused on connecting the Silver Comet trail with the Atlanta Beltline, as well as supporting expansion of public transit for MARTA and light rail.

“Public education is key to effective advocacy,” said Ted Terry, director of the Georgia Sierra Club. “We do this by conducting public meetings, film screenings, speaker events and panel discussions.”

Lobbying government officials from town mayors and city council members to state representatives is another key component in promoting environmental topics. Sierra Club members have opportunities to participate in citizen lobbying once they have completed the activist training sessions.

Respect and Protect

Nature-lovers and outdoor adventurers agree that regardless of what activities you enjoy outside, it is imperative to tread lightly and leave natural habitats intact. Respecting the environment is the best way to protect it for generations to come.

Hiking through Cochran Shoals Trail at the Chattahoochee River. Photo by Claudette Enners


Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, a Colorado-based national organization, sums up seven basic guidelines that have been adopted by outdoor associations across the nation.


The Seven Principles:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Nature is all around us offering opportunities to stay fit, connect with others and positively impact our communities. Get out, participate and enjoy.

Think Globally, Act Locally


KENNESAW, Ga. – “The critical issue facing today’s businesses is having a workforce that is globally competitive,” Kennesaw State University President Daniel Papp said Tuesday during a panel discussion entitled “The Impact of International Experience on Local Workford Development.”

Papp said KSU’s goal is to graduate students who are international competent and aware, and who function well in a global economy.

Georgia Commissioner for Economic Development Christopher Carr said the No. 1 priority of all businesses is finding a reliable, well-trained workforce and a state that has a pipeline with these types of applicants.

He specifically addressed the students in the audience by stating, “Millennials are the workforce of tomorrow.”

What is needed to attain global competitiveness? A resounding, collective response from the panel was international experience.

Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Redelet said the Peace Corps can be the springboard to cultivating multi-cultural awareness. Peace Corps volunteers help develop relationships with other countries by improving the lives in many communities around the world. Volunteers help foster the development of stable partner nations.

Validating a country and its people happens through the services performed by Peace Corps volunteers. According to organization’s brochure, volunteers serve more than 60 countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific.

The Peace Corps promotes world peace and friendship by offering “a hand up, not a hand out,” said Hessler-Radelet.

Georgia Worksmart, operated by the Georgia Department of Economic Development, is a work-based learning initiative that promotes internships and on-the-job training. Carr said this is another great way to gain international experience.

Worksmart is a key program that helps Georgia companies with their specific workforce requirements. Internationally poised, Georgia is home to the world’s busiest passenger airport, two deep-water ports and a large surface transportation network.

With Georgia exports reaching record levels for the fifth year in a row, companies are looking for internationally experienced employees; those who can relate to the world. KSU students are encouraged to apply for internships offered by Worksmart.

The panel addressed written questions submitted by the audience. Among them were the following:

How do I prepare to be internationally competitive without going overseas?

The entire panel agreed that learning another language was a great start.

Papp chuckled as he recalled a quote he heard in college, “If you speak three languages, you are tri-lingual. If you speak two languages, you are bi-lingual. If you speak one language, you are American.”

Additional suggestions included taking international classes, joining international student groups and taking advantage of university-offered global events.

A fourth panelist, U.S. Sen. Isakson, R-Ga., encouraged students to apply for internships in Washington, D.C., as many government agencies offer international exposure.

Carr suggested internships at Georgia-based international companies like Coca-Cola and participation in programs offered by the World Affairs Council of Atlanta and Young Leaders.

What is the one thing I should know when I leave KSU?

Isakson responded with, “You live in the greatest country in the world … but you should always look to broaden your horizons.”

Hessler-Redelet offered the advice, “Get out of your comfort zone.”

Carr encouraged students to, “Find your passion and get involved.”

Papp suggested to develop understanding and “Think globally, act locally.”


From left to right: President Dr. Daniel Papp, Senator Johnny Isakson, Carrie Hessler Redolent, Christopher Carr, and Dr. Daniel J. Parka (Photo by Carly Bandy)