Why We Chose Los Angeles
To start, THANK YOU for the overwhelming outpouring of support! We are extremely excited about this next step for Creature Comforts. We have heard your questions about why we chose Los Angeles, our plans for distribution out West, and why we did not open in Atlanta first.
Many things go into a decision like this one, as it was during the process of selecting our first (Snow Tire) and second (Southern Mill) brewery locations in Athens. Many have speculated about it being due to state laws, personal reasons, business strategy, or a relationship with an award-winning film director, and everyone is right.
The most common question we have received is “Why not Atlanta?” While we will forever remain committed to investing and growing in our hometown of Athens and our home state of Georgia, we must be clear: We are not opening another brewery in Atlanta or Georgia at this time because of state laws.
There remain many issues with Georgia beer laws. For Creature, the largest barrier to investing in another Georgia brewery is that current interpretation of the law is that a brewery cannot sell beer directly to a consumer at one brewery taproom if that beer was produced at one of the brewery’s other taproom locations. Making Tropicalia at locations 60 miles apart is both inefficient and less sustainable.
In 2020, Creature worked with other GA breweries to craft language to ensure that transfer of product between breweries of common ownership was legal. When COVID-19 hit, a lot of attention rightfully shifted toward helping our retailers with to-go alcohol sales. As a result, our usual adversaries at the capitol used this opportunity to sideline the inclusion of the beer transfer language and HB 879, regarding alcohol delivery, specifically omitted breweries, and brewpubs.
Unknown to many, we had been working for over a year on a beltline brewery location in Atlanta with a developer and Atlanta design firm. However, when the transfer language died at the capitol, we made the difficult decision to stop our Atlanta project on July 2 and fully focus on the Los Angeles project instead. We will continue to actively work to improve GA’s beer laws and when the legality of transferring product between brewery locations is clarified, we hope to resume our efforts to invest in a brewery and taproom location in Atlanta.
By contrast, California’s beer laws are incredibly welcoming to craft breweries and it still maintains a strong and profitable wholesaler network. With a single California brewery location, we can open 6 taprooms, transfer beer between those locations, and ship beer directly to consumers in California and many other states. This ability to ship direct-to-consumer helped many California breweries survive during the pandemic.
We are not the only Georgia brewery that has chosen a different state for the expansion of physical locations. Furthermore, we are not aware of any craft brewery from another state that has opened a physical location in Georgia yet. Georgia needs to pay attention if the state desires to support and build the craft beer industry. So yes, Georgia laws had an impact on our decision.
Sometimes the reasons are less tangible. For example, we kept finding ourselves in LA for collaborations, festivals, and conferences. As for our collaborations with California breweries, we did not do them because we were planning to open a brewery in Los Angeles. Rather, in part, we are opening a brewery in LA because we did collaborations with California breweries. We have built genuine friendships, love the area and climate, and see how our existing community impact programs align with some of LA’s needs. So yes, we have personal reasons for going to LA.
It also has to do with the results of running analysis back in 2018 on cities we thought could be good candidates for a Creature Comforts brewery. Based on that analysis, LA was a top-three market to explore. Furthermore, LA and California have strong craft beer industries, so we are going to learn an incredible amount from other breweries and about how Creature can exist in other markets. We believe this move will help us grow as a team and as a brewery.
We do not know exactly what that distribution footprint will look like yet, as it depends on how we do in the local LA market. As always, our goal is to take care of the markets we are in before expanding further. So yes, there is some business strategy involved in the decision.
Lastly, the LA brewery has to do with an amazing person and well-known director, Joe Russo, who loved our brewery and became a great friend. He encouraged us to expand our perspectives, to understand our aspirations, and to think bigger about how to achieve them. He also let us know about an awesome location zoned for a brewery and helped us figure out how to financially make it happen. So yes, it is partially about a relationship with a wildly successful filmmaker and entrepreneur.
We often say that Athens chose us originally, and we feel like Los Angeles did the same. Quite simply, it just felt right. It does not mean we will never put another brewery in Georgia or distribute to Georgia’s neighboring states. It just means we are currently continuing to invest in our existing Georgia breweries and market, and opening a brewery and taproom in Los Angeles, California, which we think is awesome.
Thank you for the incredible support over the last six years, and especially now as we continue this wonderful journey together.