A version of this recently appeared in October/November issue of South magazine.
Savannah may have been late to the craft party, but we sure did show up in style.
It’s been nearly a decade since the explosion of craft distilleries in America, and with more than 1,500 open distilleries across the country—almost 300 of those opened between 2016 and 2017 alone—it was only natural for the trend to start migrating to Savannah. But per usual in the Hostess City, the trend came late, with Savannah’s first distillery since the Prohibition Era—Ghost Coast Distillery—opening up in early 2017.
And although Savannah has its fair share of craft breweries, it’s still surprisingly lacking in quantity when compared to the rest of the nation. But thankfully, in typical Savannah fashion, we practice quality over quantity, and with distilleries and breweries like Savannah Spirits and Moon River Brewing taking the lead, Savannah won’t have a need for quality assurance.
The oldest craft brewery in town, Moon River Brewing opened in 1999 thanks to an obsession with creating the ideal restaurant and brewing experience. A large variety of brews are made in-house, with some available year-round, some only seasonal, and some surprises, with bottling occurring in the coolers downstairs.
And thanks to the surge of interest in breweries and distilleries, being a brewer in Savannah isn’t as lonely anymore.
“I think there’s a lot of talent in this industry when it comes to making beer,” says John Pinkerton, co-owner of Moon River Brewing. “We’ve seen a lot of breweries cycle through over the years, but more have seemed to stay recently, so it’s a lot less lonely as a brewer.”
The secret to longevity as a craft dispenser isn’t quite a secret at all. According to Pinkerton, it’s all in the passion and craft.
“If you have the passion and the knowledge, you’ll do okay here,” he says.