Southwest Georgia soil nourishes local brewery

Employees box beer at Pretoria Fields Collective on Pine Avenue.

ALBANY – Pretoria Fields is big on growth. From raising its own organic ingredients to enlisting local farmers to grow barley and berries for its brews, the company has sprouted and budded significantly over the last year and a half.

Earlier this year the brewery, which began operation in December 2018, grew its brand recognition by having its products placed in more than 100 Publix stores in the state. All Whole Food stores in Alabama and Georgia also carry Pretoria Fields brews.

“It’s really a big deal for a local brewery,” Pretoria Fields spokesman Albert Etheridge said. “It’s just a much broader reach and expansion in the state.”

The brewery grows about 20 percent of the ingredients in it sproducts, and along with area farmers is using locally sourced rye, barley, wheat, corn and hops.

“We grow it ourselves,” Etheridge said. “Our goal is to get it as (high) as we can,” he said of ingredients grown in Georgia. “Our bigger goal is to partner with as many farmers and (with) as much local product as we can. We want to partner with other farmers around the region and around the state.”

The end result, the company hopes, is producing products using “local and sustainable” sources.

Another seedling that has popped up is in downtown Albany, where Pretoria Fields has created a scene. Thirsty customers can stop by any day of the week, but the weekends seem to bring out a large and diverse crowd.

People bring their kids and pooches to hang out in an outdoor area of the Pine Avenue brewery.

Etheridge said that the community has played a large role in the company’s success, so the pub is a way to give back.

It is open from noon to 7 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, from noon to 9 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.

“It’s a big back porch for the community,” Etheridge said. “We’re here for them.”

Pretoria Fields, which employs about 30 full-time and part-time workers, also has a local distributor. That means its beers aren’t shipped to Atlanta and then back to Albany stores, which actually happens with some producers.

And Etheridge said Publix and Whole Foods is not the end of expected placement accomplishments for the year.

“We should be getting in Kroger and Ingles some time later this year,” he said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s really rewarding at the end of the day.”

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