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Gainesville craft brewery closer to opening

Business should be able to produce beer in 3 weeks, hopes to open by mid-April

POSTED: February 24, 2016 6:29 p.m.
ERIN O. SMITH/The Times

Office space has been added in the back of the Left Nut Brewing Co. building in Gainesville. The company stripped the 19,000-square-foot building and renovated the inside to include the brewery and office space.

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A craft brewery in Gainesville expects to start producing beer in about three weeks, and a grand opening may be scheduled by mid-April.

Left Nut Brewing Co. has renovated the administration building at the Chicopee Mill and hopes to be brewing in the next few weeks, founder Pap Datta said Wednesday afternoon.

The company has stripped the 19,000-square-foot building and renovated the inside. The work included a new concrete floor. “It was dirt,” Datta said.

The company will invest about $2 million in the renovation and the equipment, Datta said.

“It’s just us,” he explained, meaning the company’s first investors and employees. “It wasn’t a big crew doing things.”

The group was five to seven people plus some subcontractors. Interior walls, stripping brick walls, building a bar and installing tanks are some of the improvements made since a lease was signed in April 2015.

Datta also noted the renovation has used wood from the building — some has been made into vanities for the restrooms.

Datta spoke to the South Hall Rotary Club on Wednesday and outlined the company’s plans.

He emphasized the brewery will not be a brewpub, where 25 percent of the beer brewed is sold there, primarily for an on-site restaurant. As a microbrewery LNB will be open for tours, where visitors can taste the beer.

Georgia state laws, Datta lamented, are part of an “archaic system that is no longer relevant.” Much of the state law is a holdover from Prohibition days, he said.

He said Georgia is one of two states with a three-tier system for breweries. It requires a brewery to have arrangements with distributors, then retailers rather than a brewery offering direct retail sales.

The favorable factor from the industry’s lack of development, Datta said, is that his company should be able to take advantage of “sort of the upsurge of the market.”

Even during the recession, he said, the craft beer industry grew 12 percent. That is now 15 to 17 percent and is expected to be about 20 percent growth this year.

Datta explained that the firm’s “core beers” will be Lappland Blonde Ale, Mighty Banyan IPA and Shade Tail Nutty Pecan Ale. He added the company will offer seasonal specials throughout the year. The pale ale will be known as “American Obsession,” he said.

The target for the first year is to brew up to 5,000 barrels of beer, Datta said. The company can produce the 5,000 barrels with its existing equipment.

The brewery also could add equipment in the existing building to expand capacity to 60,000 barrels.

The brewery aims to be “a significant player in the beer market in Georgia,” he said.

He pointed out that craft breweries can produce up to 6 million barrels per year.

“I hope someday we get to 6 million barrels a year,” he said.

Datta said the company has agreements with three distributors for most of north Georgia and the Atlanta area. That should provide “a good two years’ growth” for the business, he said.  

Datta said the project is “an area of passion” for both Ashesh Banerjea, who is the chief financial officer, and him.



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