The first step to becoming a jailbird is simple: Work next to an old, rundown city jail that happens to be for sale and buy the darn thing. That, or you could go out and get arrested, but I prefer my way. Now, since you are financially bound to said jail consider yourself a jailbird.
The second step to becoming a jailbird, in the JailHouse Brewing sense, involves learning a little science, chemistry, and engineering (I like to think of it as MacGyver-like engineering). Luckily there are schools that will happily teach you these things-even ones that are strictly about beer. My school of choice was the American Brewer’s Guild and a good choice it was.
The third and final step is securing the necessary instruments and equipment to brew good beer, preferably equipment that is close by and won’t require a loan from August A. Busch IV to purchase.
All of these elements will not only make you a jailbird but will also send you on your way to becoming part of a community that loves its beer and is passionate about bringing people together over a pint. You see, I know first hand. This is how I became a JailHouse Brewing Jailbird!
Some often tell me that the old Hampton Jailhouse was the overnight home to many a drunken guest through the years. It seems only fitting that beer is being brewed in this quaint little two-story brick structure built in the 1920’s. It’s had its history as the jail, fire station, courthouse, mason lodge, and last but not least a sandwich shop that made those little sandwiches you can buy in gas stations. You know the triangle packaged ones that have mystery meat in them? Don’t lie, you’ve had one. Today it is home to JailHouse Brewing Company and we are brewing hand-crafted beer not punching out license plates.
Renovation of the building began in August 2008. The building was in major disrepair and needed to be, for lack of a better term, gutted. There wasn’t a window worth saving and the top floor had to be removed and rebuilt. Once the walls were stripped back to the original brick they were sealed and left to show off their rustic beauty.
There is speculation of a ghost living in the building. The story goes his name is Old John and he is friendly. It was even told that he had been locked up here a time or two for, you guessed it, public drinking. I’ll know who is responsible if things start moving themselves.
After some negotiating and finagling, I was able to acquire the old brewing equipment from the now defunct Buckhead Brewery. It just so happened their 15 barrel brewery was a short distance from Hampton and moving the equipment would be a challenge but doable. Nervous is not the word for what you feel when you see a large and just-paid-for stainless steel tank precariously dangling from a forklift by a strap. I’ll never forget that uneasiness.
It took some time and ingenuity but eventually all eleven tanks were moved to their new home and set in place. Once all the mechanical pieces of the puzzle were hooked up brewing could begin. Or so I thought.
Georgia is not the friendliest state when it comes to alcohol production or sales. I knew this fact but figured if three other breweries could make it work then so could I. Obtaining a license to brew beer in the State of Georgia is nothing short of a nightmare. Now, If you don’t mind spending money while speculating on whether or not the state will give you the license then Georgia is your state. After much anticipation and quite a few more gray hairs, the license arrived on October 23rd, 2009. The first batch of beer was in the fermenter by midnight of that same day.
JailHouse Brewing Company began selling beer on November 23rd, 2009 and are looking to build a local following here in the immediate area as we expand our brand into the surrounding cities. We would love to hear from you so please be sure to stop by or shoot us an email.