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An early look at the new brewery in the works for Lumpkin County
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Can art for the Little Buzzer IPA, one of the core beers that will be released by Lumpkin County's first production brewery, Etowah Brewery, when it opens in 2020. Image courtesy of Blair Housley.

Lumpkin County’s first production brewery is on track to open in early 2020.

Etowah Meadery co-owner Blair Housley said plans are coming together to open Etowah Brewery by the end of February under the meadery’s farm winery license — a first for Georgia that requires some special concessions from the business.

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Blair Housley is the owner of Etowah Meadery on Morrison Moore Parkway in Dahlonega and has spent the past seven years working on his honey wine recipes, a drink called mead that’s likely the oldest alcoholic beverage on earth.

Farm wineries have a few privileges not afforded to breweries in Georgia. They can open up to five tasting rooms within the state and distribute their own wine to the tasting room to sell as samples, full pours and as to-go bottles. Farm wineries can also serve spirits, beer and wine from other producers at the winery itself and in off-site tasting rooms.

To open a brewery on the same site as the existing Etowah Meadery, Housley and co-owners Scott Mabe and Jamie Belanger had to give those rights up.

“We had a sit-down meeting (with the Georgia Department of Revenue) a few months back to go over the ground rules about what I wanted to do,” Housley said Tuesday, Nov. 5. “I finally got something in writing about a month ago that they agree in principle and that they’re going to work through the language.”

The brewery still has steps left in the regulatory process, including federal approval and state approval. The brewery already has its alcohol license from Lumpkin County, according to Clerk Melissa Witcher.

“As soon as I get all the permits, I expect to start brewing right away,” Housley said.

Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge serves wine and hard cider, which along with beer is also considered a malt beverage, according to Karla Roper, executive director of Georgia Wine Producers.

But by using grains instead of fruit, Etowah Meadery will be the first farm winery to also brew and sell its own beer when it opens.

“They’ll let me as a farm winery have a brewery in there as well,” Housley said. “I guess I’ll be the first farm winery in Georgia to actually make wine and brew beer in the same facility — and be able to serve it at the same time.”

Etowah Brewery would be the county’s first production brewery, meaning that the brewery is making beer at larger volumes. Dahlonega had a brewpub on its square — Dahlonega Brewing Co. — that closed years ago.

The core beers planned for release when the brewery opens in the winter include a few recognizable styles:

  • IPA – Little Buzzer

  • DIPA – Instant Retirement

  • English Pale Ale - Placer Gold

  • American Lager - Dahlonega Nugget

The recipes are based on Housley’s time as a homebrewer before Etowah Meadery opened near Dahlonega. 

The names are pulled from locations and landmarks around Lumpkin County. Little Buzzer is pulled from Little Buzzard Mountain, which sits on the edge of Lumpkin and White counties. The Dahlonega Nugget is, unsurprisingly, named for the city’s weekly newspaper, The Dahlonega Nugget.

Should the owners get the new brewery worked out on schedule, beer could be brewed and ready for sale by March or April.

This story has been updated from its original version.

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