Braselton’s old cotton gin is trading the classic Southern crop for a German staple: hops.
Later this year, Braselton Brewing Co. will open in the community’s retired downtown cotton gin, giving new life to an early 1900s structure in the heart of the bustling community.
Chip Dale and his wife, Robin Rose, are the driving forces behind the business, which is actually a brewpub and not a down-the-line brewery. Brewpubs brew their own beer but also operate as full-service restaurants.
The business has been two years in the making but has picked up steam in 2018. Dale, a former finance executive in the Braselton area, left his job in December 2017 to focus on the new project at 9859 Davis St., while Rose remains a consultant for Accenture.
Dale told The Times that he’s long been a homebrewer, and that he and Rose developed a love for brewpubs in the Pacific Northwest, one of the birthplaces of America’s craft beer renaissance.
“We really enjoy that theme and that environment, and we really thought that Braselton would be a perfect place to open one up,” Dale said of the brewpub model.
A dozen homemade beers on tap, Georgia wine by the glass and a focus on finger foods and appetizers — the couple are aiming to make Braselton Brewing Co. a true pub experience in the heart of Braselton across from the historic Braselton Brothers Department Store.
Dale’s personal favorite as a homebrewer has been the Belgian styles, especially doubles and tripels, which refer to the amount of malt used in the recipe.
“We’re really going to try a variety of styles,” he said. “Our goal is to have probably six to eight go-tos, where you can come in any day of the year and that’s going to be on tap, and then rotational beers based on type of season or special brews — an Oktoberfest or a citrusy summer ale, things like that.”
Purge any thoughts of Miller or Bud from the brain, however, as the brewpub is only serving its own product when it opens.
Expect to pay about $6 for pints and $8 for flights, which include four tastings of 5 ounce pours. Dale said he wants to avoid high-dollar recipes that end up as double-digit pints of beer while keeping it pricey enough to be appreciated as solid, craft beer.
And while there will be no mixed drinks or spirits on the menu, Braselton Brewing Co. will serve wine and is planning to serve only wines made in Georgia. Dale has started discussions with Chateau Elan and Dahlonega-area wineries.
Beyond the booze, Dale and Rose are aiming to offer a pub-style menu of burgers, sandwiches and salads. But the real focus is on finger foods and appetizers — other businesses might call them small plates — as most diners in brewpubs are looking to order a few different appetizers and share among the table.
Along the same lines, much of the space in the brew pub will be communal: a long bar, garage door-style windows that roll open with good weather, open seating in most of the dining area (in addition to a traditional area for family seating) and a back patio that is — wait for it — dog friendly.
Dale said the back patio will have a lawn, treats for dogs, water bowls and plenty of shade for diners to bring their pets downtown. Health code rules prevent the dogs from dining in, however.
And on the second floor of the cotton gin will be a smaller space for private parties and events, which will also have garage doors that open onto an open-air patio.
The couple own the vast majority of the business but have a few other investors, and they hope to be open this fall — an ambitious construction project when working with an early 1900s industrial building on the National Register of Historic Places.
It’s owned by Matt Ruppel, who said he was connected with Dale and Rose through Braselton’s Downtown Development Authority. Construction broke ground in March and includes a host of retrofitting and custom metal work.
“It’s definitely a really challenging building,” Ruppel said. “We’re basically putting a new building inside of an old building.”
But with a solid construction crew, he said, the project is on track.
The building will get a new roof, and some of the panels of the metal structure will have to be replaced. But the hope — à la Left Nut Brewing in Chicopee’s old Johnson & Johnson mill space — is to stay true to the industrial spirit of the cotton gin.
“We’re doing everything we can to keep as much of the integrity of the old building in place as possible,” Dale said.