Omaha, Georgia? As carefully as we’re choosing our entertainment-dollar-spend this year — because, stupid — it took some cypherin’ when we had friends pitch the idea of checking out the newish Omaha Brewing Company for a tour and sampling of the beers.
- Fueled by ignorance and our early successes with making peapod wine and hard apple cider, I’m about to start homebrewing some beer. So this would be, basically, research. (It’s rationalizing, but Jenn bought it, and so did the Silly Putty of my own psyche.)
- We’re suckers for good company. And even without the lure of beer, farmers Chris and Jenny Jackson and Miranda Cooper (a Jenny Jack and Little Bit Farm alum) can pretty much talk us into any adventure.
- The tour is just a great deal. They practically are paying us to come drink their product. (You hear that, psyche?)
About 40 miles due south, Omaha, Georgia, is a bit off the beaten path from Columbus. But it was a pretty drive, and we rolled into the tiny town well before the sun set.
I can’t tell you why owner Robert Lee chose Omaha for his operation, except that he was already practicing dentistry in the town three days a week. And I can’t tell you why he chose a brewery, as he admitted on our tour that he’s not passionate about crafting beer.
When I pressed him — “Why beer?” I asked, drawing on my many years of journalistic expertise — he only said, “I’m an investor. And I wanted to leave my son a legacy.”
But someone there is clearly passionate about beer.
Or else why would they make a small-batch “tropical pale ale” that smelled unmistakably like pineapple?
Or else why would they barrel age a stout?
Or else why would they be growing muscadines whose primary purpose it to infuse an open tank of fermenting beer with some of their yeast? (A secondary purpose, it should be mentioned, is to eventually produce muscadine vodka.)
Sipping one of their many tasting-room-only brews as well as popular regionally available drafts like their Hannahatchee Creek IPA or the Nada Banana weiss beer (so named because, despite the distinct nanner notes, there’s “not a damn banana in it”), it’s clear that this is craft brewing done right.
The scale is small but growing quickly, as Lee is just now preparing to start canning some of their stuff. They create several beers that are only available at single locations, like Columbus’s 11th and Bay or Pine Mountain’s Callaway Gardens.
The 400-acre operation is also injecting life into an impoverished community.
And, did I mention the tour is a great bargain? For $15, the brewery will hand you a souvenir pint glass to keep and strap on a wristband with 6 tabs, with each tab good for a pour of one of the 15-or-so beers they have on tap at any given time.
Beer is about simple pleasure, or it should be. And the folks at Omaha Brewing have gotten creative living, space reclamation and the DIY ethos down to a science.
Check ’em out, if you’re around here and like beer. And if you’re elsewhere, ferret out the smaller brewers around you for a taste of the good life instead of the High Life.