First commercial brewery preparing to open in Columbus

Local News

A former automobile dealership on Sixth Avenue in downtown Columbus is poised to become the city’s first commercial brewery.

Michael and Kathy Denehy are working to open the second location of Chattabrewchee Southern Brewhouse will be opening by May 1 in the former body shop of Gateway Lincoln Mercury at 1301 Sixth Ave. The company’s first brewery is in located in West Point, Ga.

Michael Denehy is a retired U.S. Army leuitenant colonel and his wife is an active duty major currently deployed in South Korea.

“We are the only brewery in the country owned by an active-duty woman,” Michael Denehy said. 

Columbus council passed an ordinance Tuesday night to pave the way for the brewery not far from the 13th Street overpass. The business is currently in the permitting process, getting the appropriate local, federal and state permits, Michael Denehy said on Friday as he showed News 3 around the facility that is currently under construction.

The brewery distributes in Georgia and Alabama. In addition to making beer for distribution, there will be a bar in the brewery. The original plans call for no food to be served inside the facility, but there will be food trucks available, Michael Denehy said.

Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson said this was a good move by the council.

.”I think this shows that council and the government is very focused on trying to think a little differently than we have in the past,” Henderson said. “When the right opportunity came along to try and create an environment to allow a proven business to get started in Columbus, the council was more than happy to revisit those ordinances.”

The ordinance was critical, Michael Denehy said.

“Basically, we went to the city of Columbus and said this is the way to yes,” he said. “And we verified that against the state and federal regulations and other ordinances from other districts and compared them side by side. I think it helps bring Columbus up to code to reflect the modern businesses of today.”

Even small businesses like Chattabrewchee Brewing Company provided needed economic development, Henderson said.

“You got a military family that owns it and it is opening right at the northern ti[p of the Liberty District,” Henderson said. “It is going to bring so much energy down here. And it’s craft beer and that whole environment that appeals to younger people. … It is going to create a whole new environment not just for the Liberty District but the entire community of Columbus.”

The brewmaster will be Doug Whitt. The original plan calls for production of four barrels of beer a week — about 120 gallons — to be sold on-site at the tap room, Michael Denehy said. 

The location made sense.

“We chose this location in particular because of the developing nature of this neighborhood,” Michael Denehy said.

The building is owned by Columbus real estate broker Ernie Smallman. He purchased the property in 2015 with local homebuilder and developer Hal Averett, who recently passed away. Smallman recently purchased Averett’s interest from his estate.

“The direction that we were trying to go with this project is finally coming to fruition,” Smallman said on Friday. “I sure wish Hal was here to see it.”

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