New Realm’s distilling arm ramped up big this summer, launching spirits in both on and off-premise retail.
So let’s get real about New Realm Savannah. The location brought New Realm Vodka and a line of RTDs into the world that to this day are still doing quite well. And yet, despite high hopes for the city covered in Spanish moss, there were a plethora of factors that constantly worked against it. New Realm had to take an “L” on Savannah but the spirits program wasn’t done.
New Realm Brewing appeared out of seemingly nowhere in 2018 with the largest opening brewing capacity in Georgia’s history (around 20,000 barrels). They blew through that capacity in just months, and not long after, the brewery found itself with a second location in Virginia Beach. After making such an aggressive mark on the beer world, naturally, the spirits world was next. That’s where Savannah, Georgia, came to be.
Back to Atlanta.
Inside New Realm’s Atlanta brewery was a small barrel room used mostly for barrel-aged beers. It morphed in a little event space for private parties or the occasional beer dinner. That’s where New Realm resurrected the spirits program, putting in a whole new distillery, after selling the Savannah still and buying a new hybrid still. Kevin Ford, Master Distiller, with a previous history at Buffalo Distillery heads up the program, and just like New Realm’s beer program, lightning is striking again.
Here in summer 2023, a craft distilling program that once seemed ancillary to New Realm’s vision is front and center. Anything subtle about New Realm Distilling can be considered a thing of the past, with Ford running the show. He’s a pretty humble and down to earth distiller who has basically cannonballed into the deep end of the booze pool in Atlanta and beyond.
“We really didn’t want to do this the way it’s been done before.”
If you want to source bourbon for your own program, most of it will come come from one of three different distilleries. To Ford, that would be basically checking boxes. “Same juice, different bottle. That didn’t sit well with me,” he says. So while New Realm’s 100% in-house bourbon ages, New Realm did something a little different – sourcing bourbon from small, younger Texas and Kentucky distillers and blending it at home. The result is a bourbon blend with hints of toasted walnut and brown sugar that hit the market initially in April 2022. New Realm’s 100% in-house bourbon is aging as you read this.
Vodka. Gin. Rum. Agave.
Vodka is fairly easy and quick to make, which is why almost every burgeoning spirits program starts with it. Incidentally, New Realm Vodka sells extremely well at the Atlanta location. Rum, Gin and Tequila are a little more complicated if you want to do it right. Craft beer brewing is a constant exploration, so why can’t distilling be as well?
The goal is to be a little different. That meant not buying liquid and relabeling it. “That’s back to checking boxes,” Ford says. Kevin started with a standout legacy Jamaican rum producer, then distilling Savannah-made molasses and blending.
Producing tequila proved to be more complicated however, since the spirit is protected. If you want to call it tequila, it has to be made in Jalisco, Mexico. In the U.S. it’s fairly common for a small distiller to buy bulk agave syrup and ferment it. “It’s just not good that way, so we pushed in a different direction,” Ford says. “We were going to do this the hard way by growing our own, but in the end we found a Mexican based producer that grows Blue Webber agave and roasts and extracts it for us,” he adds. New Realm distills it in Atlanta, creating a spirit as close to authentic tequila as possible.
Introducing the “Cask Series”
Spirits are a lot like beer. You need that limited release that piques interest. In this instance, it’s less of a customer hook and more of a playground for Ford that will constantly change. This newly minted series uses specially sourced barrels like Oloroso Sherry and Madeira to create uniquely finished bourbons.
Only half of the volume from these barrels has been bottled (in honor of the brewery’s 5th birthday). They have then been refilled with the flagship bourbon and racked away again for a while. This solera method guarantees this specialty series will constantly change.
Selling Faster Than We Can Sustain
“Vodka is our number one seller in Atlanta, and bourbon at Virginia Beach, and it’s all selling faster than we can currently sustain,” Ford says. It would seem after the last two years of drinking to survive, folks want to spend their money on good liquid. New Realm is distilling at both Atlanta and Virginia Beach but is currently on the hunt for a full-scale production facility in the southeast. “It’s crazy to work at a place where the sky’s the limit,” Ford adds. “New Realm is happier making things the hard way as long as it’s good.”
This summer might be the “summer of spirits” for New Realm, having now expanded their vodka and bourbon and other spirits offerings beyond the brewery/distillery walls. It was something the New Realm had always planned to do when the time was right.
Recently, we asked New Realm co-founder Carey Falcone about the spirits distribution expansion. “It all happened a little in reverse,” he says. The demand was there before we went big with it, where I thought we would launch and build demand.”
Time works in your favor sometimes. It certainly does for whiskey.
New Realm Sound of Our Own Wheels has hit shelves, a collaboration with North Carolina’s Zillicoah Beer Company.
This double IPA is actually a family collaboration, a first for New Realm. Jon Chassner founded Zillicoah in Woodfin, North Carolina in 2017, and Jeff Chassner is the Chief Sales Officer of New Realm. As the name suggests, these Chassners are cousins. Family ties make a beer collab pretty self-evident.
New Realm’s brewmaster and co-founder Mitch Steele, Jeff, and Beer Street Journal traveled to Zillicoah’s home of Woodfin for the first of what would be two brew days. We’re pretty sure Zillicoah’s Jon and John (Chassner and Parks) wanted to brew an India Pale Ale with the man who literally wrote the book on IPA, so an Imperial IPA had to be on the brew sheet.
Sound of Your Own Wheels is a big tropical flavor bomb, brewed with Azacca, El Dorado, and Strata hops. This douple IPA pours golden and clear like a west coaster (Mitch Steele has entered the chat) and 9% alcohol by volume. It is prudent to note that Wheels doesn’t drink at all like a 9% beer. Finish the 4-pack one sitting and see what we mean.
We asked Steele what he thought of the finished beer this week at the launch in Atlanta. “It’s probably the best double IPA we’ve made yet,” he says with a smile. While New Realm’s beer styles have been all over the map, the brewing of imperial IPAs have been reserved for special occasions like anniversaries or friends. You honor the special occasion with high alcohol and hops, naturally.
Sound of Your Own Wheels is bright and sunny like late summer in the South and strong enough to make you forget how drenched in sweat you are as if you’ve been pushed into the deep end of a pool. The Sound of Your Own Wheels might just be you telling yourself to “drink more.”
Available in 16-ounce cans and draft for a limited time.
Style: Imperial IPA
Hops: Azacca, El Dorado, Strata
Availability: 16oz Cans, Draft.
Debut: Mid-July, 2023
New Realm Brewing broke ground on their newest location this week in Suffolk, Virginia. The brewery is adding a brewhouse and restaurant to the new Blue Point at the Riverfront Development.
The new build spans 6,000 square feet, and will include a 5-barrel brewhouse and scratch restaurant with a covered rooftop patio. Additionally, the location will have an 8,000-square-foot dog-friendly beer garden for patrons to enjoy.
New Realm Suffolk is a part a new 18-acre mixed-use development by the Miller Group, located in the Harbour View area of the city. The development is so named for the famous Blue Point Oysters found in nearby Nansemond and James Rivers.
This New Realm’s second Virginia location, opened in 2018 not long after opening their flagship Atlanta, Georgia location.
New Realm Suffolk will bring at least 60 new jobs to the area. The facility is expected to open in spring, 2024.
Images: New Realm Brewing
Let’s talk about thiols. If you crave tropical flavors in your beer or IPA, listen up. This bit of fermentation science is for you.
Thiols are aroma compounds and they come in two forms – free form and precursor. The free form are volatile and pungent thiols found in tropical fruits, grapes, and hops. Those thoils boast flavors of passion fruit and guava and fresh grapefruit. When a beer is more “thiol expressive” it is far bolder and big-time tropical.
Sounds good right? Eventually, but some fermentation science has to happen first.
Chicago-based Omega Yeast Labs introduced “Cosmic Punch,” a thiolized version of their British Ale yeast in 2021. This engineered yeast strain biotransforms the massive amount of thiol precursors in malt and hops to free form (expressive) thiols. Ultimately, the thiol output is far greater using this yeast than found in the traditional brewing process.
How? Omega’s goal was to make freeing these thiols more efficient. It’s about the IRC7, a gene in yeast that creates an enzyme that frees thiols from their precursor form. The challenge was that many brewing strains have mutations in the IRC7 gene that disable the enzyme, resulting in low thoil output.
Extremely simplified – Omega developed a yeast that keeps the gene active, and thus the enzyme. The final beer – which so many are IPAs or hoppy lagers are bright, snappy, and quite expressive.
It’s that bit of science behind New Realm Brewing’s new Psychedelic Rabbit Transcendent IPA. While the brewing team had created a few test batches of an IPA with Cosmic Punch, Kane Wille, brewer at New Realm says it was Omega’s Star Party yeast that really made a difference. “We did a 20-barrel batch in Atlanta and loved it, so it became Psyche Rabbit,” Wille says.
Azacca, Cashmere, Citra, and Mosaic hops headline this beer, and with the help of Star Party, you really find out what thiols are all about. The result is truly a burst of passionfruit, pineapple, and citrus flavors, in a beer that looks so much more of a west coast IPA, with a lighter mouthfeel, without having to be overly dry-hopped. “We wanted to bring something innovative to the market this year, and have been overwhemed by the success of this IPA already,” Jeff Chassner, Chief Sales Officer tells Beer Street Journal. “We are very fortunate to have such a talented brewmaster in Mitch Steele and an amazing team of brewers”
The India pale ale has always dominated craft beer, always going through a plethora of identities as the years pass. By the taste of it, the days of quadruple dry-hopping an IPA might be fading, with the rise of these yeasts.
Hops: Azacca, Cashmere, Citra, Mosaic
Availability: 12oz Cans, Draft. Year-Round.
Atlanta-based New Realm Brewing has closed their Savannah, Georgia location after a year of operation.
Carey Falcone, CEO of New Realm Brewing has offering Beer Street Journal this simple statement:
After careful consideration, we have decided to cease operations at our location in Savannah, Georgia. This was a difficult decision, but the many unforeseen disruptions to local traffic began soon after we opened – and are likely to continue for many more months to come – have simply made our business untenable.
This closure will not impact our distilling operations which are taking place at our Atlanta location and soon at our Virginia Beach location.
We appreciate the efforts of our Savannah team and the support from guests we were able to serve. Despite the closure, New Realm products will still be available in Savannah at grocery stores, package stores and other retail locations.
The opening of the Savannah location -which included a restaurant, brewery and distillery, coincided with the launch of New Realms’ ready-to-drink cocktail line. The brewery will continue distilling at their main Atlanta and Virginia facilities.
This closure does not affect New Realm’s beer and spirit presence in Savannah, Georgia or any other current markets.
Thanks to Atlanta’s New Realm Brewing, Georgia Tech Athletics has its first official beer. The beer launches today ahead of Tech’s first football game against Clemson.
New Realm Helluvienna Lager debuts today, an amber lager suitable for mass consumption at tailgates, at home or bars during any and all of Georgia Tech’s sports programs. The launch of this beer on the first day of Tech’s football season was intentional, according to New Realm’s co-founder and CEO Carey Falcone. “We have enjoyed the support of the Georgia Tech community since we opened in 2018. “We are looking forward to being on-campus and a part of Tech history,” Falcone says. “From our first meeting with Angel Cabrera (GT President), Todd Stansbury (GT Athletic Director), and the leadership team at GT, it was clear that this was much more than a sponsorship, it was a partnership,” Falcone adds.
“The style of beer that comes to mind when we think sports is a lager,” Jeff Chassner, the brewery’s Chief Sales Officer tells Beer Street Journal. “We’ve brewed a lot of German-style beers over the last two years, so an amber lager similar to our Bavarian Prince festbier was pretty much where we wanted to be,” he adds. ” New Realm sent a few beers over to their friends at Tech to try, and the Vienna lager won hands down.
Helluvienna Lager features pilsner, Vienna, German Munich, and Carared Malts, along with German Hersbrucker hops making it about much of a European -style beer as possible, minus the location. As for the name? Helluvienna Lager is a play on the (I’m a) Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech” fight song. Interestingly, that fight song started as a Scottish drinking song in the late 1800s. Naturally.
Here in the 21st Century, this New Realm/Georgia Tech collaboration hits shelves this week in 16-ounce cans and draft. It’s already on tap at Atlanta-area Taco Macs, and on shelves at Total Wine, Tower, and Mac’s Beer and Wine. Over the next few weeks – metro Atlanta QT, Kroger, and Publix locations.
Tonight the #4 ranked Clemson Tigers travel to Atlanta to play Georgia Tech for a rare Monday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Clemson is favored by 22.5 points. This beer might go from “fun” to “medicinal” quickly. Let’s hope New Realm brewed enough of it.
Style: Vienna Lager
Malts: Pilsner, Vienna, German Munich, Carared Malts
Availability: 16oz Cans, Draft. Year-Round
Music collaborations are nothing new in craft beer but that doesn’t make each one unique. This is an either way it’s cool statement – New Realm Brewing is releasing a beer with the band Blackberry Smoke. If you know the band, you’re already excited. If you’re not there yet, their music is in the tv show Yellowstone. In yet?
This collaboration comes from a mutual friendship between the band and New Realm Brewing that started back in high school. Here are New Realm, fresh cans of New Realm Blackberry Smoke Lager are being signed by Brit Turner, drummer. He greets me with a smile and a beard that literally says musican or craft brewer.
Blackberry Smoke, a rock/blues/country band formed in Atlanta, Georgia 21 years ago. “The best way to celebrate your 21st is with a beer!” Turner jokes. “But really though, it’s the best way I can see. it.” He always hoped there would be a full scale band inspired beer, but getting one is harder than you think. Brewery capacity and distribution is a complicated thing. Turner says there was a small scale “Smoke” beer made in North Carolina a few years ago, that was available at one of their sold out shows. The band hoped the rest would be available in distribution later. Their rabid music and beer-loving fans managed to drink it all that night and there was none left over.
“We knew a few of the New Realm Brewing folks as far back as high school,’ Turner says. We have basically have our own record label situation and making a beer with a craft brewer really made sense to us,” he adds. Blackberry Smoke started a year before the first iPod, a few years before YouTube and more than a decade before Spotify. “Our only choice was to tour,” say Turner. Craft beer has that “out of the garage” feel to it like a lot of rock bands.
In preparation for Blackberry Smoke Lager, Turner sat down for a tasting session with brewmaster and co-founder Mitch Steele. “A lager just makes sense,” Steele tells me. “We made it with a touch of pilsner malt on top of 2-Row, so there’s a little bit of Europe in this lager.” It’s crazy how many bands we’ve interviewed lean towards the lighter side of beer like a pilsner or lager. Almost every time their reasoning is that they want to drink a few on stage and still be able to play.
Over the course of a few hours with the band, Turner’s excitement was solely focused on what this beer means to their fans. Steele and Turner designed it with them in mind. “They got us where we are, and we wanted to do something for them,” Turner says. “I’m more excited to see them drink it then I am to have it.”
Mitch Steele himself is a guitarist and music fan, making it easy to put a little extra musical passion into it. Both brewing and music require emotion and passion if you want it to be good. New Realm Blackberry Smoke is about both.
Two decades ago Blackberry Smoke got together and started playing in bars. Not long after, they were performing with Guns N’ Roses, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eric Church, ZZ Top, and Zach Brown Band.
Honestly, to Turner and the rest of the band, this might be more exciting.
New Realm Blackberry Smoke Lager is available in 16-ounce cans and draft where ever New Realm is sold.
Availability: 16oz Cans, Draft.
Debut: Late May, 2022