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One man hopes to make Gainesville a craft beer haven

POSTED: August 23, 2014 12:47 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS /The Times

Home brewer Roger Spotts pulls himself a brew from Rick Foote's tap as he joins Foote and Datta in talking about the beer-making process.

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Pap Datta hopes to turn Gainesville into the next hub of the craft brewing industry.

The former Hewlett-Packard executive and Forsyth County resident considers himself a connoisseur of beer, having traveled the world tasting some of the finest brews on offer — European blonde ales, India Pale Ales and more.

He’s toured some of the most respected microbreweries in the country, such as Anchor Brewing Co. in San Francisco.

And Datta has been home-brewing for years, experimenting with different recipes to get that perfect-tasting beer.

Now he’s ready to launch his own brewery, called Left Nut Brewing Co., and has identified a brick warehouse along Maple Street, near Wild Wing Café, as a prime spot to make, bottle and distribute beer.

Datta will ask the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board next month to rezone the property, a first step toward purchasing or leasing the building and getting his business off the ground.

He will also likely need City Council to approve an amendment to its alcohol ordinance to allow the brewery, which will host tours and tastings, to operate. In addition, federal and state permitting is required.

If all goes according to plan, Datta said he could have the brewery up and running by late spring 2015.

Several microbreweries have emerged in the metro Atlanta area in recent years, perhaps the most notable being SweetWater Brewing Co., which explains Datta’s desire to locate in Gainesville.

He said he wants to be part of reviving midtown and hopes to be THE brewery in Hall County.

“We would love to be there,” he added.

Datta has brought Kevin McNerney, a founder of SweetWater, on as a consultant. And he plans to hire a master brewer.

Datta said the brewery’s core offerings would include various blondes and ales, while later expanding to include lagers.

Datta said he wants his beers to reflect the local region, and he plans to use local ingredients, such as fruits and honey, in his recipes.

He admits to having some trepidation about the name, wondering if people might find it offensive. But after some preliminary market analysis, Datta said he believes customers will understand the humor behind it, perhaps even be drawn to his beers because of it.

“The reality is the market is crowding,” he said. “How do I get an edge?”

The craft beer world is full of wild, unique, sometimes dumbfounding names. It’s part of the charm of the industry that desires to personalize its brand, a way of competing with large distributors like Budweiser and Coors.

For example, there’s Moose Drool, a brown ale developed by Big Sky Brewing in Montana. Sweetwater offers a barleywine style beer called Donkey Punch.

“On a crowded shelf, I think this will prompt people to say I’ll try it just for the name,” Datta said of his beers. “I think that’s a huge marketing benefit.”

Datta said he wants there to be a story behind every beer he creates, and he hopes that story will be told in Gainesville.

The planning board will hear his request Sept. 9.

“So it’s really a longtime passion and a dream,” Datta said. “Now’s the time to do it.”



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