By Leigh Ann Rutledge
MINERVA – An interest in home brewing beer led a Minerva couple to build their own brewery.
Andy and Amanda Conrad opened Sandy Springs Brewing Company, located at 232 N. Market St., Minerva, Nov. 4. Beginning the end of December, they expanded their hours on Fridays to open for lunch. The menu includes a selection of appetizers, flatbreads and sandwiches. Non-alcoholic beverages, such as coffee, flavored sodas and craft root beer is available along with Strongbow Gold Apple Cider, for those with a gluten allergy.
Big screen televisions line the walls and various forms of entertainment are offered.
The couple, graduates of Minerva High School, watched a pharmacology professor brew beer and, liking different kinds of beer, began home brewing and creating recipes during college.
Andy and Amanda received college degrees in Physical Therapy and headed west to work. As traveling therapists, they saw a lot of small craft breweries. They spent three years out west tasting a variety of beers, learning different brewing techniques and experiencing the atmosphere of each brewery.
“We saw what these craft breweries did for the small communities and thought of Minerva,” Andy said. “Our planning began out west and we started on licensing in 2013-2014.”
They decided to name the brewery “Sandy Springs” from Andy’s family’s 18th century farm on Sandy Springs Rd. in Minerva.
“There was a naturally fed spring that fed water into my great grandmother’s house,” Andy explained. “I remember dipping the cup in the water barrel.”
The couple fixed up the old farmhouse and planned to build the brewery in the barn. They had it inspected and the foundation was good, but before they could begin work, the barn was struck by lightning and burnt down. They were able to salvage wood beams (complete with burn marks) and have installed them in the brewery.
After the barn fire, the couple decided to renovate the old gas station located at the corner of US 30 and SR 183 in downtown Minerva. The rustic-themed brewery has a large bar, tables and booths where patrons can watch TV or look out the front windows. The walls are covered with barn siding and areas of exposed old bricks. The wooden floors gleam and the original tin ceilings have been uncovered. A parking lot is located behind the building that retains its “old filling station” look outside. A fire pit and patio will also be utilized, weather permitting.
“We had a great team working with us. We were very lucky,” the couple noted. “Our contractor became like a member of the family.”
The brewing room is filled with stainless tanks with ingredients in various stages of brewing beer. The process begins by milling malted barley that is augured to a tank where the sugar is extracted. In the “mash ton” tank, the sugar and starches are broken down and the grain is rinsed again. The sugary liquid created in the mash ton is known as “wort”. The sugar water is boiled about 90 minutes and hops are added to give flavor and bitterness. (Boiling is the brewing process.) The liquid is cooled quickly (from boiling to 70 degrees) on its way to being fermented. Once the liquid is cool, the yeast is added to convert the sugar into alcohol.
Fermentation time depends on the style of beer, Andy explained. Tanks could ferment for weeks to months. Ales, known as top fermenters, ferment at higher temperatures and quicker. Lager, a bottom fermenter, ferments at lower temperatures and takes longer. After fermentation, the liquid is allowed to “clear” before being carbonated and kegged.
Kegs are tapped in the same cooler room where they are kept, making changing easier.
Andy and Amanda have a schedule of events to entertain patrons. Trivia is held Thursday evenings from 7-9 p.m. and live music Friday and Saturday.
Once a month “Mindful Monday” takes place. Led by Julie Conrad, this is a 30-minute meditation session followed by a craft beer. Proceeds will benefit local charities. Cost is $10 a person. RSVP is required.
Yoga will be held twice a month by Downtown Canton’s 6th Street Yoga on Sunday morning at Sandy Springs Brewing Company. Cost is $6 per person. RSVP is required.
Plans for “Sip and Paint” and “String and Sip” events are underway.
The new lunch menu recently introduced includes hummus and veggies served with warm naan and warm Barbarian pretzels with beer cheese appetizers. Flatbreads are topped with grilled vegetables, ahi tuna or pork; and sandwiches include “The Gobbler Panini” featuring turkey served on sourdough bread with cinnamon butter and white cheddar cheese from Minerva Dairy. “The Minervian” has burnt pork ends on a torta bun with smoked Gouda and maple butter. For dessert, “The Happy Ending” is a warm Belgian waffle topped with pumpkin spice latte ice cream and drizzled with caramel.
Currently they have 10 beers on tap. Sandy Springs Lost Gold is a pre-prohibition style cream ale; crisp with a light color and body. According to Andy, this brew has a flavor similar to Bud Light. Other craft beers are brewed with caramelized pumpkin and spiced chai tea, cold brewed coffee, and hints of chocolate and caramel. They range in color from pale to deep brown, dark amber and black. They also use an infuser tower to add flavor. The Sandy Springs Infusion Tower is porter brew run through the tower filled with Madagascar vanilla beans and organic coconut before serving.
Select brews can be taken home in a 32-ounce growler can.
Sandy Springs offers gift certificates, t-shirts, hats and toboggans featuring their logo.
Hours are Sunday, 12-5 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday, 4-9 p.m.; Friday 12-10 p.m.; and Saturday 12-10 p.m. The brewery is closed Monday and Tuesday.
For more information, visit www.sandyspringsbrewery.com, Sandy Springs Brewing Company on Facebook or call 330-522-4024.