The Wild Leap story begins when two beer-impassioned friends and a talented brewer take a wild leap (yep!) of faith to open their own brewery. Leaving behind successful and comfortable careers, this trio begins introducing approachable and inventive styles of craft beer. In September 2017, Wild Leap officially opens its doors in downtown LaGrange, Georgia and the big wheels keep on turnin’ today!
After being awarded Best New Brewery of 2019 by USA Today’s 10 Best Readers Choice Awards, owners Anthony Rodriguez and Rob Goldstein along with expert brewer Chris Elliott, extended their passion into spirits and Wild Leap Vodka was born. To the delight of fans, Wild Leap began serving handcrafted cocktails in their taproom along with award-winning craft beer. The Wild Leap taproom had become something of a local gathering place where friends and neighbors sipped on deliciously created beverages while listening to music, playing games and enjoying lively camaraderie.
When COVID-19 shuttered their taproom in spring of 2020, Wild Leap pivoted into cocktails-to-go, offering curbside pickup. Customers began trekking to LaGrange to stock up on these pandemic essentials, prompting Wild Leap to launch a line of Ready-To-Drink premium craft cocktails, available to vodka fans throughout Georgia.
The Wild Leap story is young and is still being written, but you know what they say, “If you don’t do wild things when you’re young, you’ll have nothing to smile about when you’re old.”
In the days before Wild Leap, Rob and Anthony held established, successful careers in the events and craft beer world. The two met during a networking event, and as one thing led to another, they eventually worked together to throw a New Year’s Eve bash in a local Atlanta brewery. These two quickly developed a panache for staging large-scale and successful events in Atlanta including craft beer festivals, mixers, live music performances and much more.
The plot takes a twist when the two decide to throw a craft beer festival in LaGrange, Georgia. Staged in the historic downtown area, the festival was something of a litmus test to gauge local interest in craft beer and potentially a locale for launching a new brewery.
The turnout was staggering. The festival drew thousands to this small Georgia town and just like that, a craft beer scene was born in LaGrange.
Now knowing LaGrange was where they needed to be, the search for the perfect location was underway. Anthony recalled seeing an old building he’d pointed out while in LaGrange on business. “That would make a really cool spot for a brewery,” he commented when laying eyes on the Westbrook Service & Tire Co. building, a historic property on the edge of downtown that was in need of some love.
After revisiting the site, Rob and Anthony had their hearts set and their minds made up. This was the spot.
The two collaborated with locals and community champions to begin restoration on the 59 year-old building while preserving its story, charm and character. From the taproom’s 7-foot-tall exposed steel trusses and revealed brick to the glass-walled brewhouse and old signage in the decor, the finished blend of antique and trendy would later earn Wild Leap an award for Excellence in Rehabilitation on behalf of The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.
In addition to spectacular indoor areas, Wild Leap adjoins an expansive outdoor area where, not surprisingly, many large-scale events have been held. Known for their love of music, Wild Leap has hosted countless live performances along with New Year’s Eve parties and numerous food festivals.
From the word go, Wild Leap’s mission was to create balanced and approachable craft beverages. This is great in theory, but without the right team, this would only be a pipe dream.
An expert in capturing mouthwatering flavors through inventive brewing techniques, Chris Elliott’s approach to craft beer was pivotal in bringing the Wild Leap dream to life. A long-time friend of Anthony’s, Elliott’s inquisitive nature, progressive ideas and love for experimenting is why he’s called the Wild Leap mad scientist (and our Chief Brewing Officer, when he’s behaving!)
In early 2017, Wild Leap began concocting their first core beers: Local Gold Blonde Ale and Chance IPA. Local Gold, a tribute to the locals of LaGrange, is a light and approachable hybrid style purposefully designed to ease domestic beer drinkers into craft beer. Chance IPA is an ode to the chance the owners took to follow their dreams with Wild Leap. They hope it inspires others to do the same.
Most fans associate the Wild Leap brand with a stoic illustration of an American buffalo. So, where does the buffalo come into play? Normally found in herds, the lone buffalo represents the one who broke away from the pack to forge their own path. Native Americans hold buffalo and bison in high regard as symbols of indomitable spirit; a soul strong enough to face challenges with power to move forward. The bison teaches us that if you want something, you must be “all in.” Fittingly, the buffalo represents a manifesting of goals and service to the community—the essence of the Wild Leap story.
With the beer flowing, Wild Leap was ready for the next step in their journey to create balanced and flavorful craft beverages. Wild Leap Vodka hits the scene and handcrafted cocktails debut in the taproom.
Rather than sporting the familiar buffalo, Wild Leap Vodka features a profile image of a bear, setting it apart from Wild Leap craft beer. The bear represents strength, confidence and a determination to overcome all hurdles. It bears with it (pun intended) the Wild Leap mindset, to find the courage to take chances—in your career or your personal life.
As COVID-19 shuddered businesses across the globe, Wild Leap temporarily closed its taproom in March 2020 in response to growing concerns of public safety. But you know what they say, you can’t keep a good man down. Wild Leap deftly shifted craft beer and handcrafted cocktails to a successful curbside pick-up model. Fans flocked to LaGrange to stay stocked up on their Wild Leap pandemic essentials.
For those unable to make the trek for curbside cocktails, the team reformulated some of these cocktail favorites to increase shelf stability, and began offering them in markets throughout Georgia. Strawberry Mango and Creamsicle Mojito Ready-To-Drink craft cocktails were the first flavors launched and Wild Leap Vodka fans were over the moon (and no longer parched).
In many ways it feels like Wild Leap has just gotten started. With an increasing demand for Wild Leap craft beverages, the company has expanded throughout Georgia and into Alabama and South Carolina. New beverages are being launched weekly and more expansion plans are in the works.
Though it is uncertain what the future brings, the Wild Leap story teaches us to stand strong, be fearless and to take our destiny into our own hands. That every dream begins with an idea, but every journey begins with one wild leap.