Gravity Craft & Homebrew Supply owners, from left, Karen and Gordon Pledger, along with their daughter Courtney Overbaugh, are preparing for the grand opening of their store on Dogwood Drive in Conyers on Saturday. The store offers all needed to brew your own beer including glass carboys and cook pots. (Staff Photo: Karen Rohr)
About four years ago, Gordon Pledger started brewing beer as a hobby. He learned the steps on YouTube, invested in the equipment and ingredients, and experimented with recipes. The more he did it, the more he liked it.
“It’s a down-to-earth kind of thing. It’s an organic process that’s been around for hundreds of years,” said Pledger. “When you make a batch of beer, it’s yours, you put it together, you’re trying to mimic a flavor, not copy anyone. It makes me feel like I’m a part of something that’s been going on a long time.”
His interest in homebrew led Pledger, who works full-time in the information technology field, to research the possibility of opening up his own brewery. After deciding his lack of experience, coupled with his age, didn’t provide him with the tools he needed to open a successful brewery, Pledger turned to another avenue that would allow him to get involved in the beer-making industry — a homebrew supply store.
That business idea has come to fruition with Gravity Craft & Homebrew Supply which has its grand opening on Saturday. Located at 1136 Dogwood Drive in Conyers, Gravity sells homebrew supplies and equipment, as well as wine-making and cheese-making kits. The business also offers a growler bar, with 20 beers on tap that customers can purchase by buying a growler and getting it filled at Gravity.
“We’re really focusing on the local breweries in Georgia,” said Karen Pledger, who helps her husband run the business.
Customers will find beer on tap, as well as in bottles, from breweries such as Terrapin, SweetWater, Three Taverns, Red Hare, Red Brick and Victory.
While customers cannot drink at the establishment, they can sample the beers before they make a decision to purchase an entire decanter of the brew.
Pledger said he surveyed several locations for his business in Gwinnett County but came full circle and decided to keep it local in Conyers. A native of Athens, he’s lived in Conyers since the early ’80s and his wife since the 1970s. The couple’s children, both now grown, attended school in Rockdale County, as did Karen Pledger.
“We wanted to give Conyers something to be excited about and we’ve seen that, just from people peeking in the window and saying ‘When are you opening?’” said Karen Pledger. “On Facebook we’ve had over 300 likes and we haven’t even opened the doors, so that’s pretty awesome.”
Gordon Pledger said he intends to offer classes on how to homebrew, which is a multi-step process.
Homebrewers must clean and sanitize their equipment; brew the beer by mixing the ingredients in boiling water, and allow several days for settling; bottle and cap the beer; and then allow it to age for at least a month. Equipment such as funnels, carboys, tubing, bottles, caps, kettles, white buckets and cleaning materials are needed, all of which Gravity sells.
Another necessary tool, which Gravity carries, is the hydrometer, which measures the specific gravity, or density, of liquids. A hydrometer provides homebrewers with information on the alcohol content of their beer (hence Pledger’s choice to name his business after the measurement). The higher the gravity of the beer, the higher the alcohol content.
Pledger also wants to start a homebrew club, where members can swap recipes, and taste each other’s beer. His two personal favorites are Dragon’s Milk, a rich, malty stout, and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, an India Pale Ale that is crisp with a floral aroma.
Pledger said he made the Bell’s and shared it with a friend while watching a Georgia-Alabama game.
“He said, ‘That was the best beer I’ve ever had in my life,’” said Pledger.
Gravity is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; 1 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, and is closed on Monday. The business can be reached at 770-679-5118 or on Facebook at Gravity Craft & Homebrew Supply.