California, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, England, Scotland, Ireland. To say that Elsewhere Brewing Co-Founders Sara and Sam Kazmer have been around the block may be a bit of an understatement.
For a brewery built on bringing the beer styles of the world inside their taproom, Elsewhere Brewing has some serious pedigree.
Not many people travel the world, literally, all in a quest to discover how to craft their perfect brewery.
But Sam and Sara did just that, trekking to almost twenty countries and three different continents.
What they discovered crafted a brewery with old-world charisma embracing new-world vibes. All en route to a one-of-a-kind taproom brewing exquisite beers that have turned our heads for the last two years.
Quite simply there is nowhere in the world like Elsewhere.
From the Pacific Northwest to Prolific World Travelers
Perhaps it’s not surprising to learn that both Sara and Sam fell in love with craft beer while living in Washington State. An area known for prolific producers, the Pacific Northwest is in itself a pilgrimage for many craft brewers and aficionados.
Sara and Sam simply called this state home.
An Army veteran, Sam started to explore his passion for beer while recovering from a parachuting accident. With some time suddenly on his hands while on the mend, Sam started homebrewing, eventually taking an Army apprenticeship at Narrows Brewing in Tacoma.
He fell in love with beer. And so did Sara.
Although she had recently started a steady nine-to-five job in marketing, Sara found herself more drawn to hanging out at 7 Seas Brewing nearby. She eventually quit her job to bartend and manage the taproom.
“This sounds crazy but as we thought about it more, [beer] was in line with what we wanted to do,” says Sam.
Sara chimes in, “We fell in love with it…the people that worked in beer and the people [beer] attracted…we wanted to work with people like that in the long haul,”
So when Sam officially medically retired from the Army, the two took his pension and planned a trip around the world.
To experience other beer cultures, figure out what resonated the most, and eventually morph everything into a place to call their own.
West Coast to Oaxaca
The Kazmers didn’t jet off internationally right from the jump. Actually, they stayed pretty close to home.
“We wanted to check out the beer industry in the West we hadn’t experienced yet,” says Sara.
That and they wanted to explore the outdoors.
Backpacking across national parks in Banff, Canada, and California, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah, Sara and Sam eventually made their way south to Mexico with the goal to head even farther down.
A month in Oaxaca and Mexico City let Sara work on her Spanish as the duo prepared to head down to South America, curious about what craft beer was like on a different continent.
’Strange Brewing’ and Hazmat Suits in South America
Back then, if you did a quick Google of ‘craft beer in Chile’ or ‘hops and malt in Argentina,’ your query returned next to nothing.
“What the heck is going on down there?” says Sara. “We wanted to learn about their food and culture.”
With a bit of Spanish under her belt now, Sara started firing off emails to different breweries. “Wherever we got the most responses we [went],” she says. “I would write to them in Spanish and explain that my first language is English.”
What they found was an industrious group of brewers battling the odds with little access to top-of-the-line equipment and ingredients. Basically, a complete 180 from craft beer in the Pacific Northwest.
“It seemed like South America was in its infancy in the craft beer industry,” says Sam, who started a blog to chronicle their adventures. “They were doing things that North Americans were probably doing in the 1980s, so it was cool to go down there and see their way of making it work, producing high-quality beer in some places and bringing this industry to their own culture.”
Or even wearing hazmat suits when they brewed, such as in Colombia. “At the time, they thought brewing beer was some dangerous act,” says Sara. “It was wild to watch a guy stirring a half barrel mash with a hair net, goggles, and a giant lab coat.”
In all of their travels from Colombia to Chile to Peru to Argentina, Sam and Sara agreed that Strange Brewing in Buenos Aires was by far and away the best brewery they visited.
Started by a group of guys who met while studying at UC Berkeley in Northern California, Strange Brewing “had the most impressive system, cleanest beer, and well-designed brand,” says Sam. “It’s a brewery that would do well in any city here [in the U.S.]”
But if Sara and Sam thought craft beer was an anachronism in South America, skipping over to Europe sent them into a straight time machine, beerwise.
From Decades-Old Brewing to Centuries-Old Brewing
From a continent still catching up to modern craft beer, Sara and Sam traveled to one still completely ensconced in their centuries-old traditions.
Traveling around Europe proved to be a much different experience.
Beginning in Belgium, Sara and Sam spent a month house sitting two horses, a dog, and some cats in a town called Limburg. Exploring the entire country, the pair visited the Orval monastery, tasting a session version of Orval on draft alongside a five-year-old bottle, and had some Saison DuPont at a bar across the street from the brewery that “really blew our minds,” says Sam.
They wandered everywhere from Delirium Cafe and Cantillon in Brussels to the lambic museum in Lambik, “drinking every beer imaginable,” says Sam. Such as a ten-year-old bottle of Kriek on 3 Fontenaine’s patio.
“And, of course, eating countless frites with samurai sauce,” says Sam.
In Germany, the Kazmers found a very different beer perspective.
“Our time in Koln, Bamburg, and Bavaria really shaped the trip: drinking countless Päffgen kölsches on the beer garden; swinging up to Düsseldorf to explore the similar Alt beer scene; exploring Franconia’s unique smoked beer scene in Bamberg and getting a full-blown tour of Weyermen malt’s facility,” says Sam, who found the best hefeweizen he’s ever had at a random place in between Nuremberg and Munich called St. GeorgenBräu.
In the Czech Republic, the Kazmers found a very different beer perspective, drinking dark lagers galore. Which would inspire them to brew their own version later.
In England, the Kazmers found a very different beer perspective.
“Our time in England was an exploration in cask ale,” says Sam. The two traveled the country following the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) 2018 guide for breweries and pubs specializing in cask ale. “We spent several days hiking through the rolling hills while recharging at countless pubs serving perfect pints of best bitter, mild, and pale ale,” says Sam. “A perfectly poured best bitter in an English countryside bar still serves as one of my favorite drinking experiences.”
In Sweden… Do you see where we’re going here?
Each and every place Sara and Sam visited slowly but surely shaped their brewery-to-be in their mind.
They picked up bits and pieces—a Belgian pale ale or tripel from a Trappist brewery, a hefeweizen from a wooden barrel on a patio underneath huge chestnut trees, a dark Czech lager enjoyed in a beer garden as the accordion played underneath the lime trees, an English best bitter relished in a pub on the English countryside—and tucked each away in a back pocket like a penny grabbed off the ground for a rainy day.
Until a year and a half later, when they returned to the States, Atlanta specifically, pockets metaphorically full of beer, friendships, memories, and vim and vigor to open Elsewhere.
From Everywhere to Elsewhere
After almost twenty countries, probably hundreds (well, maybe not that many) of breweries, bars, pubs, even people’s homes, and countless beers, Sara and Sam set out to open Elsewhere Brewing in the Grant Park neighborhood of Atlanta.
“We were traveling all over the place, spending so much time in other people’s houses in other places, that when we got back, we wanted our place to be a home elsewhere,” says Sara.
Because it wasn’t just the beer styles themselves that Sam and Sara came to admire; it was the moments and, more importantly, the people in them.
“The pubs in England and cafes in Belgium were so warm and welcoming,” says Sam. “I don’t think we left one pub in England where we didn’t make new friends or have someone buy us a pint.”
According to Sam, Europeans take their pubs very seriously, consciously making an effort to be warm and inviting. “We admire that,” he says.
Elsewhere honors that tradition, creating a space and drinking experience welcoming to all.
Because a house isn’t a home until you put people inside it making memories, right?
So Elsewhere is a place you can go if you can’t go anywhere else. A little home you can make for yourself with other people looking to do the same as you: drink a beer they might not be able to otherwise.
Can’t get away to Belgium to get an authentic abbey-style beer? Go drink a Tripel at Elsewhere.
Can’t fly to Plzeň to try a pilsner at the source? Go drink Proletarian at Elsewhere.
Can’t visit St. GeorgenBräu for the best hefeweizen Sam’s ever had in his life? Go drink a Hefeweizen at Elsewhere
“The idea…is to bring all things from elsewhere to your neighborhood,” says Sara. “A little taste, getting those essences of travel through the decor, through the food, or through the beer, but be comfortable at your local neighborhood watering hole.”
Officially launching in October 2020, Elsewhere Brewing brought something new to Georgia.
Getting Grounded in Georgia
Although the Kazmers relished their time in the Pacific Northwest, truth be told it was already a saturated beer area. Since Sam’s family lived in Georgia, it made sense to open up Elsewhere in this Southern state.
That and the fact that Georgia hadn’t quite hit the peak of craft beer like it had in the PNW. The state had only recently updated its outdated liquor laws, finally allowing breweries to sell beer out of their taprooms.
Atlanta had been growing steadily for the past few years and the idea of Southern hospitality appealed to Sara and Sam.
Oh, and the weather. “We’re fortunate to be in a place where people are thirsty for cold beverages ten months out of the year,” laughs Sara.
But she’s probably downplaying things a little. Because Elsewhere is making beers quite a few stratospheres above
Hefeweizens, Dark Lagers, Continental Lagers, and Only Two Core IPAs
We might call Elsewhere Brewing a European brewery at heart with the mind of an American one.
They brew hefeweizens, Czech dark lagers, and pilsners alongside just two core hoppy ales (plus maybe one more “just passing through,” as the brewery calls it).
“We’re continental European classics and American craft beer classics executed the way we like the beer, which is generally drier, lighter bodied, and something you can session,” says Sam.
Elsewhere doesn’t chase trends.
And they won’t be swayed by popular persuasion.
They just brew the styles of beer they like to drink. And they brew them very, very well.
The common current: “Drinkability, dry, sessionability,” says Sam. “We like beers that are lower in alcohol; we like beers that finish dry and crisp and beers you can have quite a few of.”
But they also don’t specialize in just one thing.
“We believe in having a diverse portfolio, because the more diverse your beer program, the more diverse your clientele,” says Sara. “I know so many people that only drink stouts, only drink IPAs, or only drink pilsners. If you can do them all well, why would you not put them all on?”
She explains that at Elsewhere they don’t feel the need to put on six different IPA offerings. Instead, they focus on just two core ones—an East Coast New England-style called Vaunted and a West Coast version called Viridity, now one of their most popular beers.
It’s an approach that people surprisingly appreciate.
In fact, one of Elsewhere’s other best sellers?
Gest, a Czech dark lager.
“Literally, my distributor will never leave me alone about Gest,” says Sam, noting that when they fell in love with that style of beer in Europe, you could rarely find it anywhere in the States. “We were going to be one of the first breweries brewing Czech beer in the South.”
Now, they’re brewing one of our favorite versions. We named Gest one of the “27 Best Beers We Drank in 2022,” because it’s an old-world style with new-world panache, drinking slightly roasty with an indulgently smooth mouthfeel. This beer transports you. And afterall, isn’t that the entire ethos of Elsewhere?
Proudly taking you to another place all through one or two pints?
Proud of Pilsners
While Viridity and Gest may be two of Elsewhere’s top beers, Proletarian, an industrial pilsner, is perhaps the best seller.
“It’s the working man’s beer,” says Sara, who notes she can drink Proletarian no matter what and at any time of the day. “We’re working hard and cracking a beer at the end of the day to feel good, take the edge off… To me, that beer checks all the boxes—everybody loves this beer.”
And more importantly, for both Sam and Sara, Proletarian is the beer they’re most proud of.
Probably because this modern pilsner represents the core of Elsewhere: taking one particular style, constantly brewing it, and tweaking it until they think they have the perfect recipe.
Then tweaking it some more.
Sam loves this beer because of the way it’s evolved over time. “Initially we wanted it to be like a Narragansett or Coors Banquet,” says Sam. “But as it developed, it started to become more like a classic German helles wearing American blue-collar clothes.”
And it’s still developing, getting better over time as the recipe continues to evolve.
Which is why the brewery’s pilsner once again takes a prolific style and tilts it just slightly into the twenty-first century.
This isn’t a centuries-old recipe they’re protecting over the years. Instead, Proletarian is a beer with a modern mentality.
“We’re not just making change for the sake of change, but we like to experiment and…this is a beer I didn’t want to be f**ked with at all and now we want to keep doing more of this change,” says Sam.
It’s the same approach Elsewhere takes with Sam’s favorite beer—Carouse. Considered a European-style pilsner, Carouse has also evolved. ton over time, according to Sam, from the grain to even leveraging contemporary hop products.
That’s all thanks to the magic mind of Elsewhere’s Brewmaster Josh Watterson and his own journey of sorts for perfection in the big wide world of beer.
Swiping Right on a Brewmaster
Sara and Sam found Watterson kind of the old-fashioned way.
By writing a classified ad and posting it on Probrewer.com.
“We got twenty responses, ten people we wanted to talk to, and one of them was Josh,” says Sam.
Formerly the brewmaster at Vista Brewing in Driftwood, TX, Watterson racked up multiple awards during his illustrious career for his lagers, IPAs, saisons, and more.
He sent Sara and Sam a sample—a German kölsch, saison, brett beer, lambic-style beer, and surprise surprise, a West Coast IPA and dark Czech lager.
And although the Kazmers may have found Watterson in archaic fashion, they definitely wanted to swipe right on him almost immediately.
“We felt like we met our match on Tinder for a brewmaster,” says Sara. “He was making exactly what we thought about making [beerwise] and it was all good.”
Watterson came on first as a brewery consultant, helping with everything from designing the brewhouse to writing recipes, and of course brewing.
Now he runs everything full time as the director of brewing operations and head brewer.
“He is the reason why Elsewhere is so successful,” says Sara. “We got lucky.”
Where Will Elsewhere Go Next?
Right now, Sara and Sam plan to open a second location in the Westside Paper mixed-used development in Atlanta in May 2023.
“Our next location will have more of a British pub meets warehouse vibe,” says Sara, who notes that this taproom will focus more on barrel-aged beers and drier-style ciders.
But ultimately in the future, the Kazmers dream about opening their own place somewhere up in the Southern Appalachian mountains.
This third taproom would be “a more rustic experience where people can unplug, stay for a few days, and have access to great food, great service, and great beer,” says Sam. “We’ve always had a dream in our head we’d be up in the mountains doing a brewery…like what you see in Germany out in the middle of nowhere drinking great beer.”
Afterall, Sam and Sara’s adventures are woven into the fabric of Elsewhere; they want to inspire that same sense of exploration in others.
They’ll even be leading a trip down to the Patagonia region of Argentina for an all-inclusive outdoor, culinary, and beverage-focused vacation in early February 2023, aiming to share their travels with others. And plan more excursions in the future.
From abroad and away across multiple continents and cities to their own backyard, the Kazmers have started a brewery that does something very few can: inspire beyond its four walls.
Whether you’re at Elsewhere in a big city or in the middle of nowhere, there is no other place we would rather be because there is nowhere else in the world like Elsewhere.