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Tantrum Brewing hops on agritourism train in Cleveland
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Tantrum Brewing Company is open in Cleveland and is the state's first agritourism brewery. - photo by Austin Steele

Something new has come to the wine country of White County: hops, beer and Tantrum Brewing Co.

Tantrum Brewing Co. in Cleveland makes its mark in the craft brew scene with more than its rolling mountainous location and beer selection, but as the first brewery in Georgia to become an agritourism destination.

Before opening the brewery on March 23, Ross Crumpton, CEO of Tantrum Brewing, decided he wanted to establish his own hops farm.

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Tantrum Brewing Company is preparing to grow their own hops on site in Cleveland on Saturday, April 6, 2019. - photo by Austin Steele

He sat down in the summer of 2017 with Gary Black, Georgia’s agriculture commissioner, and officially received an agritourism designation for the brewery.

Crumpton said he was inspired to grow hops at his business after witnessing the success of local farm wineries.

“They do well, grow their own grapes and the soil is good,” Crumpton said. “I figured we’d give it a try.”

The hops farm next to the brewery currently contains 300 different plants of the five varieties: Cascade, Centennial, Triple Pearl, Saaz and Hallertau.

Crumpton said the hops are two years old and should become mature next year.

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Ciara Forthun, a bartender at Tantrum Brewing Company in Cleveland, hands a customer a beer on Saturday, April 6, 2019. Tantrum Brewing Company is the state's first agritourism brewery. - photo by Austin Steele

This year he expects the plants to reach 15-18 feet in height, creating walls of hops beside the brewery. He aims to eventually expand the farm to accommodate 1,200 plants.

Crompton said he won’t know how many pounds of hops each plant will yield and the growing cycles per season until they reach maturity.

Nick Tanner, brewmaster and founder of Cherry Street Brewing in Cumming, said growing hops in Georgia can prove a tricky process. He said the volume and yield for hops tends to be lower in the state compared to the hop-growing areas in the Northern U.S.

“It can be done, hops do grow in Georgia, but it requires a lot of extra attention, equipment, space and time,” Tanner said. “It’s a very difficult and tedious task.”

If all runs as expected on the farm, Crumpton’s goal is to serve brews in the taproom made from the on-site grown hops. As for distributing beer made from the hops beyond the brewery, he said that would take place in the distant future.

The set up

Crumpton said he wanted to “go big or go home” on production: Tantrum Brewing includes two brewhouses, a 3.5-barrel pilot system and a 30-barrel automated production system.

While the brewery currently has four 7-barrel and three 30-barrel production tanks, Crumpton said it was built to accommodate more tanks. Each barrel holds around 31 gallons, so one 30-barrel production tank can hold up to 930 gallons.

“For us, we want to eventually be a semi-regional player, we want to be a production brewery,” he said. “For us, putting in a 30-barrel system just means that that’s never going to be our limiting factor — at least for many years.”

The brewery’s operation also includes a centrifuge, which helps ensure consistency and clarity with the beer.

“Your hazy IPAs, some come out and look like orange juice and then others look like muddy water,” he said. “The difference in those beautiful ones mostly likely comes from a centrifuge.”

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Tantrum Brewing Company serves its brew Poems at Midnight with pomegranate. This brewery located in Cleveland is the state's first agritourism brewery. - photo by Austin Steele

A portion of the brewery includes a space for canning. By early May, Tantrum Brewing intends to start canning three of its beers.

As for the taproom, Crumpton said this summer he plans to focus in on producing sours, IPAs and lagers. In the future, look for porters, stouts, Belgian-style beers and other barrel-aged brews from Tantrum.

“For me brewing is kind of like a really incredible balance of art and science,” Crumpton said. “The science part of it allows you to make quality beer, and the art part of it allows you to make beers that people haven’t really tried. Just incredible world-class beers, and that’s what we want to do here.”

Building a coolship

Tantrum Brewing has another project in the works, one that Crumpton expects will become a defining characteristic of the business.

Alongside the brewery’s master brewer, David Sheets, Crumpton is in the process of creating a coolship room for crafting spontaneous-fermentation beers.

A coolship is a shallow vessel used to cool wort for it to ferment into beer. Since the rooms they’re in aren’t sealed, airborne yeast and microflora can enter into the mix.

Tantrum Brewing’s coolship will be located inside the brewery with open, screened windows to welcome the little bits of life from the atmosphere that will make each batch of beer an almost total surprise.

Crumpton said one of his favorite aspects of spontaneous fermentation is the unpredictable nature of the beer because of its exposure to outdoor elements.

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Customers enjoy beer on the patio at Tantrum Brewing Company looking out towards the mountains in Cleveland on Saturday, April 6, 2019. - photo by Austin Steele

“You can send it on the right direction based on the type of beer you’re putting on, the work you’re putting into it and the environment you’re in, but you really have no idea where it’s going to end up,” he said. “That’s the art of it.”

Tanner said many craft breweries tend to stray away from coolships or not rely frequently on them because of their erratic nature.

“It’s very experimental and a gamble, most breweries aren’t putting all their eggs in a basket,” he said. “But, if you do a good job with it, it’s a really good product.”

Crumpton said while Tantrum Brewing’s core beers will help keep the business alive, the spontaneous-fermentation beers will provide an extra, creative side of the brewery.

“That’s what we want to be known for,” he said. “IPAs are great and sours are great, but it’s the beers like that that I think are really going to set us apart.”

Getting back to his mountain roots

Crumpton’s passion for brewing beer began in his college apartment, where his friend made muscadine wine. Despite the wine tasting terrible, he said it sparked his interest in homebrewing.

After graduating from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Crumpton became a mechanical engineer.

“I moved to Oklahoma for a year-and-a-half and it wasn’t the place for me,” he said. “I didn't want to put down roots there and decided I’m going to move back home.”

Crumpton said Tantrum Brewing wouldn’t have opened without the help of his family and guidance from Sheets, who previously owned a brewery in Atlanta.

Tantrum Brewing

Where: 1939 Helen Highway, Cleveland

Taproom hours: 4-8 p.m. Thursday, 4-9 p.m. Friday, 1-9 p.m. Saturday and 2-6 p.m. Sunday

Contact: 770-519-1900 or info@tantrumbeer.com

During the brewery's beginning stages, Crumpton said his two younger brothers were 15 and 12 years old. He likes to joke and say they inspired the “Tantrum” in the brewery’s name, along with his other family members.

“This whole process has caused a lot of fighting and fussing within my own family, so that influenced it a little,” Crumpton said. “The other part of it is that it’s a cool and catchy name.”

While opening a brewery in a small town, Crumpton said he realized his role in educating the public on what the business embodies.

So far he said the community's reaction has been positive with kind remarks about the beer and panoramic view of Yonah and Pink Mountain.

On opening day, more than 750 beers were served.

“All I ever wanted to do was to have a business and to be able to create jobs for my community,” Crumpton said. “For us I think just like any brewery, we want people to come together and have a good time. That’s all we want to do.”

People can find Tantrum Brewing at 1939 Helen Highway in Cleveland. For taproom hours visit tantrumbeer.com.

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Customers placer orders at the bar at Tantrum Brewing Company in Cleveland on Saturday, April 6, 2019. Tantrum Brewing Company is the state's first agritourism brewery. - photo by Austin Steele
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