Food - Georgia Brewery Watch
14 new breweries to look forward to in 2014
One year ago almost to the day, Creative Loafing devoted its cover to the many in-progress craft breweries and brewpubs cropping up in and around Atlanta. Of the eight forthcoming beer makers highlighted in that piece, four — Jekyll, Three Taverns, Eventide, and Reformation — have opened. By CL's count, at least 14 are currently in the works this year. Will they all introduce beer to the market in 2014? Not likely. But the crowded pack represents a continuing upward trend that shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
These 14 breweries are all over the map, both stylistically (Berliner Weisses, Thai IPAs, and Saisons) and literally (Athens, Emory Village, Cherokee County, the Atlanta Beltline), establishing a beer scene in a state that, until recently, was not exactly known for having one.
Of course, thanks to the Peach State's prohibitive, archaic, wholesaler-favoring laws, none of these budding small businesses can sell any product — not a six pack, a growler, or even a single pint — directly to their customers. Georgia is one of only eight states in the country, none of which, it bears mentioning, border Georgia, that prohibit direct, brewery-to-consumer sales. But as the state's craft brewers multiply, and as their collective voice becomes louder, savvier, and more organized, progressive legislative reform seems more attainable than ever. In the meantime, at least there's plenty of beer for the drinking.
Grant Park's first brewery launched at Six Feet Under in early January with a Kolsch and a Pale Ale, and has since sent its two initial offerings to myriad bars and bottle shops throughout the metro Atlanta area. Although its tasting room won't open until the summer, Eventide's third beer, an Irish Stout, was released in late January. www.eventidebrewing.com.
Following its ITP debut with the Belgian Tripel Providence at Wrecking Bar's Strong Beer Fest in December, Reformation made its "hyper local" launch to a few Cherokee County establishments in late December. Chief Marketing Officer Brad Nix says his team is working hard to keep those places stocked for now. Reformation has made four beers so far — Providence, Cadence Belgian Dubbel, Winter Scout Stout, and the launching-at-press-time Atlas IPA — in its production-only (aka: not for public visits yet) warehouse brewing space in Woodstock. Nix says they're working with a firm to build out the brewery for its public unveiling, and that Reformation will quadruple its brewing capacity in March, at which time it'll expand to new areas and retailers. www.reformationbrewery.com.
The name combines "geek" and "beer." The business plan involves "naughty" alcoholic sodas. The man behind it all is David Sheets, who recently closed his Blind Murphy Craft Beer Market in Alpharetta to focus on this new venture, which may eventually be located in Forsyth County or Woodstock. He plans to begin with non-alcoholic soda in February, follow with the naughty sodas after that, and have beer ready by the fall or winter. "Yes, we are a little crazy," he says. "Everyone else is doing the standard IPA, brown, pale, and reds. I've done that for 10 years. It's time for something completely different." www.geerbeer.com.
CREATURE COMFORTS BREWING COMPANY
Athens' first new production brewery in a dozen years hopes to finish construction on the downtown Snow Tire building this month and have its beer in market by March. Co-owners/brewmasters David Stein (Twain's, Brick Store, BrewDog) and Adam Beauchamp (SweetWater) will start with a core lineup featuring a Pilsner, IPA, Rye Amber, and Berliner Weisse in kegs first, then cans a few months later. Further down the line, they plan experimental and seasonal releases like barreled stouts, innovative session ales, and beers made with a funky, increasingly popular wild yeast called Brettanomyces. www.creaturecomfortsbeer.com.
MONKEY WRENCH BREWING COMPANY
Monkey Wrench founder and brewer Wayne Baxter's beers have won award after award at homebrewing competitions in recent years. The public will get to try the Hop Monkey IPA — a "balanced, unfiltered IPA dry-hopped with Centennial and Simcoe hops" — at its official public debut at the 2014 Suwanee Beer Festival on March 15, and will initially be available on tap in Gwinnett and Atlanta. While Baxter's hesitant to reveal where he'll be setting up his brick-and-mortar spot, he says locations both inside and outside the Perimeter are under consideration. In the meantime, Monkey Wrench will contract brew with Kiln, Miss., brewery Lazy Magnolia, and plan a crowdfunding launch to help pay for the eventual Georgia establishment. www.monkeywrenchbrewing.com.
Founder Gabriel Sterling says he's talked with a couple distributors and is in the process of setting up a contract-brewing relationship with an out-of-state brewery. The earliest his beer — an American ale and IPA, for starters — will hit the Georgia market in the end of 2014. "A quality product will be embraced," the Sandy Springs resident says. "I just don't want to launch until we have our ducks in a row." www.facebook.com/ElbowBendBrewing.
Situated just off Monroe Drive near the Beltline's Eastside Trail overlooking Piedmont Park, Orpheus Brewing has chosen a location as refreshingly necessary as its beers promise to be. Construction began in early January on the Dutch Valley Place space, which includes plans for a 1,200-square-foot tasting room and 2,500 square feet's worth of space dedicated to barrel-aging. Equipment is expected to arrive in early February. President and Brewmaster Jason Pellett hopes to begin releasing his beers, including saisons, sours, seasonal IPAs, and barrel-aged experiments, in late April. www.orpheusbrewing.com.
THE SOUTHERN BREWING COMPANY
The Classic City's other new brewery will open in northeast Athens near Athens Tech. The Southern team, including co-founder Brian Roth, who's been homebrewing for more than 20 years, plans to start contract brewing with JailHouse in Hampton, Ga., in February, which could put their beer in market by March. According to the brewery timeline on SBC's site, the Athens space will be operational in "July, at the earliest." www.sobrewco.com.
ABBEY OF THE HOLY GOATS
"We are always experimenting with different hops and ingredients, trying to perfect recipes," Head Goat Kathy Davis says of her forthcoming Roswell establishment. Davis hopes to unveil her "food-centric Belgian-style" beers, including a Belgo-inspired Pale Ale, Dubbel, and Tripel, in the spring or summer. www.facebook.com/HolyGoatBrew.
SLICE & PINT
Crawford Moran has wanted to run a pizza place ever since his Dogwood Brewing Co. closed in 2004. That plan was put on hold when he joined the 5 Seasons team directly after, where he's been making beer ever since. When Emory Village pizza joint Everybody's closed in March 2013, he saw his chance and opened Slice & Pint last summer. He's still happily making beers at 5 Seasons, but hopes to begin Slice & Pint's in-house brewing in March with the help of 5 Seasons assistant brewer Jamie Parker. Moran plans on a wide variety of styles, including lots of different IPAs, and one brew, "a golden Belgian-style thing, similar to a Patersbier idea" that will always be on tap. "People keep asking me if I'll be doing the same beers at Slice & Pint as I do at the 5," Moran says. "And I keep saying, 'Well, I brew different beers all the time at the 5,' so I'm going to keep doing that." www.sliceandpint.com.
WILD HEAVEN CRAFT BEERS
Although Wild Heaven's creations have been in the Atlanta market for nearly three and a half years, they've been brewed at South Carolina's Thomas Creek Brewery. That will change this spring when the brewery sets up shop in Avondale Estates. Wild Heaven's brewing equipment, formerly Terrapin's, was set up in late January, and President Nick Purdy says his team is "tentatively hoping" for an April opening. www.wildheavencraftbeers.com.
MAZURT BREWING COMPANY
The two men behind MAZURT and its Russian Imperial Stout, which they age in a variety of spirit barrels, have acquired a semi-legendary status in Atlanta's beer community in the last couple years. They say 2014 is the year they'll set up a commercial space for that stout, as well as various other styles. "We will start by gypsy brewing a few batches with our friends at Georgia and North Carolina breweries, followed by a round of crowdfunding," MAZURT co-founder Dan Rosen says. "After that, we'll begin production of our own facilities. We are looking at locations that are close to MARTA in neighborhoods that are underserved." www.facebook.com/MAZURTbeer.
SECOND SELF BEER
Located in the same Westside Atlanta industrial park that once housed Dogwood Brewing Company, Second Self is currently crowdfunding its tasting room through Indiegogo. It expects its equipment in April, and to be pouring the initial offerings — Red Hop Rye, Thai Wheat, and Car Bomb Stout — in June. www.secondselfbeer.com.
GATE CITY BREWING COMPANY
The folks behind this Roswell-based operation will partner with another North Georgia beer maker in an alternating proprietorship. (Basically, multiple breweries trading off using the same equipment under one roof.) While they hope to have their own space by summer time, this arrangement will get their beer into the market faster. If it works, it'll be the first alt-prop brewing setup in Georgia. www.facebook.com/GateCityBrewing.