Being former soldiers, Kevin Ryan, Dan Sartin and Jeff Hyatt have a common bond that’s typical of all uniformed personnel, whether they’re military, law enforcement or firefighters. They also share a love for good beer.
The three veterans have formed a craft brewery called Service Brewing Company, which will celebrate its grand opening with a launch party at the American Legion Post 135 on Savannah’s Bull Street at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Ryan, a 1996 West Point graduate, serves as chief executive officer. Sartin, a 1978 West Point graduate, is the master brewer. Hyatt, a retired Army helicopter pilot, is the assistant brewer. Ryan’s girlfriend, Meredith Sutton, serves as creative marketing director.
Although she has nothing to do with brewing or marketing, Meredith’s 8-year-old German shepherd, Sophia, is regular visitor to the 30,000-square foot warehouse in downtown Savannah. Ryan said the warehouse used to be the Coastal Paper Company. The building itself is probably 100 years old, he said.
“We have three Army guys, and there’s me,” Sutton said with a smile. “We’re a very community-oriented company. We plan to donate at least 1 percent of beer sales to veterans charities. At the end of the day, though, it’s the crafted beer that matters.”
Sutton said the company’s name represents not only the service of military personnel but first responders as well. Ryan said having service as part of their name represents their intent to give back to all those who serve the country or community. He added Service Brewing Company is registered in Georgia as a veteran-owned business.
Ryan stressed that Service brewery’s beer will not be sold directly to the public but through distributors. He added they are working with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service to have their product distributed to Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield.
The company’s “flagship” beers have distinct military names, including Ground Pounder, a pale ale; and Compass Rose, an India pale ale. Another beer, which Sutton called a seasonal beer, is dubbed Rally Point. It’s a pilsner. Ryan said his favorite beer so far is one he crafted — a pecan-apricot, pale ale called S.B.C. Zero. The S.B.C. stands for Service Brewing Company.
Ryan said S.B.C. Zero is their launch beer. This one will be limited in its production, but those who attend the launch party at the American Legion will be able to try it and their other beers.
He said crafted beer is not like other domestic beer, which sometimes are promoted by pubs and and convenience stores for being kept ridiculously cold.
“When you’re drinking a crafted beer, it needs to warm up to room temperature,” Ryan said. “That’s the only way you can get its full flavor.”
He said that while Service Brewing Company will not sell beer directly to the public, in a few months, the public will be able to visit the brewery, which is on Indian Street near the Talmadge Bridge. The business partners plan to offer tours of the brewery, and guests will be able to sample all their beers, including one-barrel batches of experimental beers, Ryan said.
He is not concerned that Service Brewing Company is one of a half-dozen craft brewery companies in the Savannah area. Unlike the others, their extra-large warehouse gives them lot of room to grow. He’s confident the planning and organizations skills that he, Sartin and Hyatt developed in the Army will help their business succeed.
“We don’t expect to have a big impact on the local (beer) market because we’re the new guys,” Ryan said, noting they have a friendly relationship with other craft breweries. “We’re not putting anybody out of business. … I want people to recognize that craft beer is the reason we’re doing this. We’ll also support charities that support our military, police and firefighters.”