Last summer, Joe Garcia, a marketer, and Bryan and Shannon Miles, co-CEOs of a virtual assistant company, started talking about opening a brewery. The longtime friends love everything about them: the friendly business model, the sense of fellowship of the space and, of course, the beer. The obvious next question was where to put it.
The answer soon became just as obvious.
“This should be in the community that we all live and work and raise our kids,” Garcia said.
A year later, the trio is closer than ever to seeing their vision manifested with NoFo Brew Co., a brewery slated to open in north Forsyth County in late summer.
The 6,000-square-foot brewery will be open Wednesday through Sunday and serve a variety of beers — IPAs, lagers, sours, goses, pale ales, stouts, porters and more — in a family- and dog-friendly environment at 6150 Georgia Hwy. 400.
“We’re trying to create something … where people can’t wait to go back and they can’t wait to tell their friends about it and make it a part of their daily lives,” Shannon said.
For all three, their roots in Forsyth County were paramount to the project. Bryan and Shannon moved to Forsyth County in 2000 from Alpharetta after graduating from college in Ohio and “love living here,” Shannon said. They bounced around homes in Cumming until settling on their current location off Dahlonega Highway a few years ago. They’ve raised their two kids here (both go to Silver City Elementary School) and started Belay Solutions, one of the top virtual assistant companies, in 2010.
Garcia grew up in Alpharetta and moved with his family to the area in 2014. Soon after, he joined Mark Spain Real Estate, the ubiquitous metro Atlanta firm, to lead its marketing department. Now, Garcia is a private investor and consultant.
“We’re really for this county,” Bryan said. “Sometimes the history of this county gets a black eye, especially when people know about the story of Oprah or whatever.
“There’s just so many great things about this county and its people, and we’re just really for it. We want to create an environment that really kind of says, ‘Hey, we’re proud of this place.’”
As they began the creative process for the brewery, they landed on the name NoFo Brew Co. to reflect their affection for the area. In doing so, they hope the brewery could lead a wave of development expected to hit north Forsyth County in the coming years and offer nearby residents a destination gathering place, much like Cherry Street Brewing has become in Vickery Village.
“Those people could really consider this their local brewery,” Garcia said, “their place to enjoy beer on the way home or hanging out on the weekends. We just felt that hyper-locality was really important.”
Bryan, Shannon and Garcia are deep into the work of getting NoFo Brew Co. ready.
They cleared a major hurdle last Thursday, when the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners approved a change to the county’s alcohol ordinance to allow micro-breweries to operate in certain commercial and industrial areas.
The outside will feature a lawn for customers to bring their dogs and a fire pit. They’re working with an interior design firm to create an environment that reflects their affinity for the western part of the country.
“We’ve sort of dubbed it ‘Wyoming luxury,’” Garcia said. “There’s an element of adventure, there’s an element of luxury and a nice masculine, rich feel.”
They also in the early stages of hiring a head brewmaster and taproom manager, and they’re working to build a founder’s membership base to participate in a soft launch to work out the kinks before the big opening.
With every step, the three friends are holding on to a core mission of creating something distinct and familial for the place they call home.
“We wanted to create an anchor of a common space where people could connect and everybody feels welcome,” Shannon said.