I met Shannon Vinson not at a beer festival, or a beer bar, or at Creature Comforts Brewing Company in Athens, Georgia, where she works, but in New York City seven years ago. We were both getting our masters degrees at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Beer being a relatively far cry from the art world, probably neither of us had any foresight we’d ever end up here in this community, but we stayed in touch through social media, watching each other progress in this industry. Eventually, on a trip to Georgia a few years ago, I also met Blake Tyers, Creature Comforts’ Cellar Manager, a GBH contributor, and, as it turns out, Shannon’s boyfriend.
It’s only been a few years since Creature Comforts opened here in this college town, but it quickly outgrew its first brewhouse. To keep up with demand as much as possible, the brewery opened a second production brewery in town. But despite the massive increase in output (they’ll land somewhere between 35,000-40,000 barrels in 2018), it’s still tough for the fast-growing brewery to send much beer too far outside Atlanta.
I don’t want to give you the impression that Shannon’s work doing marketing for the brewery is anywhere near easy. It’s an increasingly competitive Georgia beer market and it seems they’re making a big push for name recognition outside the state. But with national accolades and appearances at prominent festivals like the Firestone Invitational, things seem to be clicking into place for them.
On a recent trip to the South, I visited Blake and Shannon and they were gracious enough to host me in Athens. While here, I couldn’t pass up the chance to sit down with them and talk about their unique backgrounds, beer off-flavors, Creature Comforts’ barrel program, and the pros and cons of running a brewery in Georgia.
This is Blake Tyers and Shannon Crawford of Creature Comforts Brewing Company in Athens, Georgia. Listen in.