The South on Tap

Posted on 01 May 2019

A rustic hardwood floor and exposed brick wall. A restored ceiling, intricately designed and meticulously crafted, with crystal chandeliers hanging from it.

A blend of classic South Georgia taste and modern sensibilities. Casual meets formal. Tradition meets comfort. Art meets chemistry.

When Gallagher and Nicole Dempsey sat down to plan their brewery in Downtown Bainbridge, combining these elements was important. Like the finely tuned flavors in one of Dempsey’s homebrew beers, the atmosphere and appearance of their location on Broughton Street is a well-researched, heavily-inspired fusion of everything Gallagher and Nicole want their project to be.

The name says it all. Southern Philosophy.

“There are a lot of things I certainly want to do that are, hopefully, original ideas,” said Gallagher. “We are looking to keep the traditional feel of the building and comfort of the South, but have some modern aspects. The beer is going to be, hopefully, high-quality and scientifically produced in many regards, with an artistic hand in it as well. The vibe will be very social. Comfortable, but also something to look at.”

With a target opening date later this summer, the Dempseys are quickly tying up the loose ends to their building. Plans are to serve homebrew craft beers, cocktails, light foods, and even pizza. The front portion of the space is dedicated to seating and entertainment, with the brewery’s bar stretching down the right side of the room. In the back, mash tuns and tanks for bringing Gallagher’s beer recipes to life stand ready.

Talking to Gallagher about beer brings a smile to his face and a cheer to his voice. There is a passion there, built on almost 15 years of tinkering with homebrew recipes, winning beer competitions and learning the industry’s business through bartending and helping in other breweries.

“It’s just something I’ve always loved doing,” said Gallagher. “I love the creativity of it. I love the process. I love that it’s physical, believe it or not.”

He crafted all the beer and cocktails for his and Nicole’s wedding.

“I would say from the day I met him, he told me he was going to open up a brewery one day,” said Nicole. That was in 2012. “So I always thought, well you know, I think a lot of guys think that. It’ll probably just pass and we will probably not end up talking about it a year from now.”

Seven years later, after saving every penny they could and bouncing from Tallahassee to Jacksonville to Bainbridge, she’s working and sweating with her husband to bring Southern Philosophy to life. That’s with two kids, as well: Ani (4) and Jak (2 months).

Choosing Bainbridge as the place to build their dream was influenced in a couple ways. A better place to raise Ani and Jak was one of them.

“We just saw Bainbridge as a great place to raise a family,” said Nicole. “We were excited about the idea that it was smaller and a tighter community. There was more support available with his parents living nearby.”

Gallagher researched the area and found the nearest breweries, making sure there was potential for a project like this to not only be sustainable, but flourish. He liked what he saw. He liked the river. He liked downtown. And he had two friends who were already a year into their own successful business.

Heather and Tyler Thomas, owners of The American restaurant just one door down from Southern Philosophy, were a big draw for Gallagher and Nicole.

“From the beginning of (Heather and Tyler’s) project, they started telling me I should come here, because they knew I wanted to do a brewery,” said Gallagher. “We came and visited a lot, checking the place out.”

Amanda Glover, director of the Bainbridge Downtown Development Authority, pointed the couple in the right direction and guided them through the process of starting their business. After 10 years of dreaming, it was settled. Southern Philosophy was born. Soon, it will be sharing Gallagher’s homebrew beers, cocktails, and food with Bainbridge, Georgia, and the world. As rewarding as it sounds, it’s also been quite a job.

“A lot of people see brewing as this romantic thing,” said Gallagher. “Like it’s such a cool thing to do. It’s really 80 percent janitorial work. Being a good brewer is being able to clean. You are continually cleaning brewers, cleaning kegs. You’re cleaning the grains out of the mash tun. There is physical and manual labor to it. But it really is a jack-of-all-trades job to do a brewery like this.” It’s art. It’s science. It’s tradition. It’s passion. It’s Southern Philosophy.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.