PELL CITY -- Craft beer entrepreneur Jason Wilson will share his story about establishing the Back Forty Beer Company at noon Wednesday at the Pell City Public Library, according to a press release.
When Wilson established Back Forty Beer Company in 2009, the Gadsden brewery was one of only two craft breweries in the state. Now, 10 years later, there are more than 50 licensed operations in Alabama and another half dozen in the making.
Wilson will share the Back Forty Beer story as part of the Wild & Wonderful Wednesday series.
“Don’t give up on your dream,” Wilson said, in the release.
Wilson found his passion and wasn’t afraid to follow it, even if he experienced failure on the road to success.
After his graduation in 2005 from Auburn University in logistics and supply chain management, this fifth-generation Alabamian and Gadsden native began his career as a logistics professional for the Georgia-Pacific paper company.
He spent seven years as a supply chain analyst for Georgia-Pacific, but during that time, he began to dream of a different career path.
When visiting his brother in Crested Butte, Colorado, on a previous occasion, the two visited a craft brewery, and Jason had been enthralled by the craftsmanship and authenticity of the industry.
A passion for the industry began to manifest itself in Wilson, leading him to visit breweries around the country in the process.
When making a presentation for Georgia-Pacific, he made numerous references to the breweries when describing the design for a new Georgia-Pacific facility.
The CEO, who attended the meeting, encouraged him afterwards to pursue his passion.
In 2008, when a financial crisis hit, he decided he needed a career change and began to pursue his dream of starting a craft brewery. Thus began the hard, groundbreaking work that helped build a new industry in the state.
He asked questions, developed a concept, raised money from family and friends, and found a brewery in Mississippi that would let him make his beer there until he could get his own place.
In 2009, he founded Back Forty Beer Company, renovating a 27,000-square foot facility in Historic Downtown Gadsden and employing 29 workers, many of them Auburn graduates.
Back Forty Beer has experienced much success. It is the largest producer and exporter of alcohol in Alabama, the release says, and the facility has been through three major expansions, representing more than $25 million in economic impact for the city of Gadsden.
At the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Wilson’s first beer brand won a silver medal, becoming the first beer from Alabama to win there.
In 2015, Auburn University awarded Wilson its Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.
His business has received other awards as well.
Wilson is first to acknowledge this success has come about through hard work -- and a willingness to keep trying.
Wednesday’s program is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served after the program.