I want to thank everyone who made yesterday's 25th-anniversary Classic City Brew Fest so much fun: great volunteers, wonderful brewers/distributors, Jim Cook, Athens Area Humane Society, and the awesome staff at Hotel Indigo Athens Downtown. If you were able to attend, thanks so much!
Sunday, August 29, 2021
I want to thank everyone who made yesterday's 25th-anniversary Classic City Brew Fest so much fun: great volunteers, wonderful brewers/distributors, Jim Cook, Athens Area Humane Society, and the awesome staff at Hotel Indigo Athens Downtown. If you were able to attend, thanks so much!
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Look below for the exciting list of exclusive cask ales that will be available at our 25th-anniversary CLASSIC CITY BREW FEST in Athens, Georgia on Saturday, August 28, 2021. This list can change without notice.
· Akademia Brewing Phobia the 13th is our 13% ABV rich and robust Phobia Imperial Stout with additions of vanilla beans, cinnamon and Oreos.
· Arches Brewing Bob's Your Uncle ESB. At 5.5% ABV, this ale offers a medium/light body accentuated by mild fruitiness and an emphasis on hop aroma rather than hop bitterness. Look for a dark copper color with notes of toffee and earthy tea.
· Athentic Brewing Barleywine comes in at 10.6% ABV and was produced from a 100% two-row grain bill that was triple mashed and boiled overnight on our direct fire system to impart deep caramel and toffee notes with a luxurious mouthfeel. Hop aromatics arise from Idaho Gem and Cascade hops.
· Atlanta Brewing Southern Pale. Our 6% ABV southern classic ale was cask-conditioned to bring the flavor. Citra and Denali hops give this brew slight tropical notes that help the southern heat fade away from one pint to the next.
· Beacon Brewing Funky Goosey is a gooseberry Brett Saison dry-hopped with Centennial. It's a blend of three Saisons, all inoculated with different strains of Brettanomyces and a Belgian Saison yeast.
· Blackbird Farms Brewery Xmas in August. This full-bodied Porter from Lilburn's newest craft brewery is loaded with fresh additions of cherries, nutmeg and cinnamon for a truly inspired cask ale. 6% ABV.
· Blue Tarp Turncoat Hippies Hazy IPA is a soft, creamy, hazy brew that's dry-hopped with Enigma and Loral. If a turncoat is not an enigma, we don't know what is.
· Bold Monk Bourbon Barrel-Aged The Way Tripel with raspberries. Flavors and aromas of raspberry, honey, wood and vanillin play beautifully with melon/citrus hop notes and spicy Trappist yeast phenolics. 8.8% ABV.
· Braselton Brewing Braseltoberfest! A 6.4% ABV German Fest Bier that's malty and delicious. Prost!
· Burnt Hickory Cherry Pie Sister Disco Berliner Weisse. This fruited pastry kettle-soured ale comes in at 5% ABV and 15 IBUs. Tart like fruit, yet sweet like the crust, this is the cask that some beer nerds will tell you they hate, but they will secretly drink it all.
· Cherry Street Grease Monkey is a 10% ABV bourbon barrel-aged English-style Barleywine blended with bananas, hazelnuts and cinnamon. It was crafted in honor of the mechanics, machine heads and bruisers that bust the daily grind.
· Creature Comforts Railway Ale is a "New World Bitter" with 4.3% ABV and US Chinook and New Zealand Pacific Sunrise hops. Inspired by the fine cask ales we enjoyed a couple of years ago in Manchester, England; our version is lightly dry-hopped and supremely drinkable.
· Dachshund Brewing Biscotti Brown Ale - A light brown, malty ale with notes of almond, vanilla bean and a hint of chocolate for a delicious hand-dipped biscotti experience.
· Eventide Brewing Blackberry Smoke Kolsch. Blackberry puree was added to our traditional Kolsch-style ale to create a fun fruit beer for summer. Blackberry comes through immediately on the nose, along with the floral characteristics of German noble hops.
· Flowing Cups "Porter? I Hardly Know Her..." is a 5.2% ABV roasty American Porter with macadamia nuts. It's dark, sweet and chocolatey with an appealing nutty flavor.
· Gate City Light Lager. This refreshing golden lager stands out in the crowd because of generous dry-hopping with Zuper Saazer hops. 4.3% ABV and 8 IBUs.
· Good Word Friends in High Places ranks as a 4.5% ABV English-style Bitter that's dry-hopped with Brambling Cross. The beer comes from a collaboration with Wooden Robot Brewery and Brasserie de la Senne.
· High Card Brewing Planet of the Vampires is a crisp, golden Pilsner made with generous additions of blood oranges for an exceptional citrus bite and eye-catching hue.
· Hippin' Hops Chocolate Stout. This fantastic 11.3% ABV stout comes from Georgia's first black-owned brick-and-mortar brewery that's located in East Atlanta Village. Expect robust notes of cocoa, espresso and dark fruit esters in this potent brew.
· Indio Brewing Puff Nutty. This oatmeal stout was brewed with Madagascar vanilla beans, Georgia peanuts and eight pounds of Nicaraguan cacao nibs. Expect aromas and flavors reminiscent of Little Debbie Nutty Buddy bars and Reese's Puffs Cereal.
· Khonso Brewing Hey Ya! is a fun take on a Belgian-style Golden Strong Ale brewed to make folks "shake it." Made with orange peel, a hint of cardamom and single-hopped with Mandarina Bavaria, this 9% ABV ale makes for a flavorful beer experience.
· Left Nut Brewing 42 - An 11% ABV British-style Barleywine aged in new American oak barrels crafted by Gainesville Cooperage. After 7.5 months in the barrel, this beer holds the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.
· Lincoln Fill Station / Cherry Street Lincoln's Summer of Love is a delicate imperial sour ale brewed with fresh cherries and blackberries along with a touch of vanilla and a dash of cinnamon. 8% ABV.
· Max Lager's Excommunication. This Flanders-style Red Ale was fermented with our house mixed-culture yeast strain for six months in our Solera barrel program. After initial fermentation, the beer was conditioned in a port wine/whiskey barrel for an additional four months. This special cask contains mission fig puree to highlight the dark fruit flavor and contrast beautifully with the rich tartness.
· MAZURT The Time of Returning is a 9.5% ABV "Nordic Quad" aged in an Independent Distilling bourbon barrel. Generations have passed since Ragnar worshipped the old gods. Aegir, the god of sea and brewing, provided the yeast to brew this otherworldly elixir with grains and sugar aged in oak barrels as brewed for the banquets of the gods. This is the Season of What, now is The Time of Returning. Done in collaboration with Southern Brewing Company.
· Monday Night Wish You Were Here. Our malty Drafty Kilt Scottish ale melds with additions of coffee, vanilla and macadamia nuts in this scrumptious cask ale that packs lovely notes of toffee, fruit, roasted nuts and espresso.
· Monkey Wrench Adventures in Guava Land. Made with real pink guava and fresh basil, this exceptional sour ale is sure to invoke your adventurous side. 4.7% ABV.
· Moon River Wacky Wit-Chata - Our 2017 Great American Beer Festival gold medalist Wacky Wit gets a horchata-inspired dose of flavor from additions of lactose, vanilla and cinnamon in this exclusive cask. 4.1% ABV.
· New Realm LutraCrisp Lager is the brewery's popular Italian-style Pilsner that offers a beautiful, light malt profile balanced by gorgeous additions of Saphir and Cascade hops.
· Normaltown Brewing "It's Pronounced Fronkensteen" is a delightfully tart ale conditioned on toasted coconut and vanilla beans for complexity. We also added a touch of lactose for an appealing mouthfeel and finish.
· Orpheus Brewing Imperial Stout. This luscious, rich and roasty dark ale offers notes of caramelized sugar and nougat produced from a long overnight boil. This fruity, coffee-like strong ale comes in at 10% ABV.
· Pontoon C’est la Açaí Berliner Weisse. This kettle-soured ale was brewed with whole açaí berries, strawberries, Sauvignon Blanc grapes and local apples for a wonderful depth of fruit intensity and complexity.
· Rainy Day Brewery Brew-No-You-Know is an old-school American brown ale boasting dark malt notes of cocoa and roasted nuts - all balanced by American hops. It's direct and straightforward but filled with all the character you'd want in this style.
· Red Hare The Drunken Hare is a special cask of our Hasenpfeffer Oktoberfest lager with additions of bourbon-soaked oak chips for a smooth, nutty and malty treat. 6% ABV.
· Reformation Brewery Curuba Collision is a spicy rye pale ale conditioned in the cask with fresh vanilla, strawberries and curuba (banana passionfruit) for a delightful explosion of flavors.
· Round Trip Oktoberfest. This remarkable beer was lagered at cold temperatures for five weeks, and the cask version includes additions of oak chips soaked in port wine for additional complexity.
· Sabbath Brewing Trapped in the Grasp of a Memory is our oak-aged Hazy Raw Ale DIPA brewed with floor-malted barley, flaked wheat, Citra Cryo, Ekuanot Cryo and TRI2304 Cryo hops.
· Schoolhouse Brewing Evil Queen. The Evil Queen is at it again - this time using her skills to take a Quad to the next level. This 13.5% ABV Belgian-style Dark Strong Ale was aged in apple brandy barrels for 12 months and boasts a dark reddish hue, subtle sweetness and notes of raisin, toffee, fig and apple pie.
· Service Brewing Caramel Macchiato Golden Stout is an 8.5% ABV ale blended with PERC cold brew coffee and salted caramel. Delicious coffee shines through the honey-like malt bill that provides mouth-watering toffee notes.
· Southern Brewing Company / Owen Ogletree Collaboration Cask. In a nod to the Old Fashioned cocktail, we took Cuchulainn Red Ale and aged it in a barrel that once held ASW Irish whiskey made with the same Loughran malt that we use for Cuchulainn. Additions of Woodford Reserve bourbon cherries and Angostura aromatic bitters add a mouth-watering cocktail nuance.
· Southern Brewing Company Dulche de Leche Moon Eyes Imperial Stout is a 9.5% ABV dark ale. Decadent, rich caramel and lactose sugars meld with our Moon Eyes Imperial Stout to create this one-of-kind cask treat.
· Steady Hand Celestial Orifices. This 6% ABV hazy IPA was dry-hopped with aromatic Comet, Bravo and Calypso hops. Expect notes of tropical fruit, grapefruit and orange with hints of sweet cannabis-like terpenes.
· StillFire Brewing Thoroughly Good Bourbon Barrel-Aged Scotch Ale. Our 13.5% ABV award-winning Scotch Ale was given a 16-month quarantine in an ASW bourbon barrel. The result is truly "one bourbon, one Scotch, and one beer."
· SweetWater Brewing HAZY Habanero Mango. This special cask contains our 6.3% ABV HAZY IPA that's juicy, fruity and slightly sweet with just a touch of enjoyable heat in the finish from the peppers.
· Terrapin Casktime Pale Ale is our Pastime Pale Ale generously dry-hopped with Citra, Simcoe, Mosaic and Galaxy for an extra punch. Malts include two-row pale, flaked oats, malted wheat, Vienna and Red X. We used both pelletized and Cryo hops for an extra smooth hop presence.
· The Queenswood Pub La Lucy was created in memory of Chelsy Giles, a beloved Terrapin employee who passed away last month. La Lucy is the name of Chelsy's cat, and Chelsy would have loved this Imperial Gose ale almost as much as she loved her kitty. The sour beer packs fresh mango and Tajin (a blend of mild chili peppers, lime and sea salt). Chelsy would say, "This beer is worthy of a flower crown."
· Three Taverns Old Bones is a 5% ABV English-style Old Ale brewed out of a passion for classic English pub ales. Delightfully simple, yet subtly complex, this elegant beer is brewed with an intentional blend of floor-malted Maris Otter malt, medium English crystal malt, black malt and a touch of flaked wheat. Notes of toffee, baked biscuits, black cherries and molasses are prevalent, along with stone fruit esters from the English yeast.
· Urban Tree Hopped Up on Peach. This cider is packed with aromatic and floral hops at the start and then finished with Georgia peach juice. Enjoy the bright, citrusy flavors of one of our favorite seasonal ciders that's ready-made for summer.
· Variant Brewing Over the Top Imperial Pastry Stout. This 13% ABV Imperial Stout was brewed with maple syrup, toasted coconut, double-stuffed Oreos and cassia bark.
· Wild Heaven Townsend's Landlord Ale is an authentic British-style Best Bitter style brewed with Baird's Maris Otter malt, UK Burton yeast and Styrian Golding and Willamette hops. 4% ABV.
· Wild Leap Tonic Boom. This impressive blonde ale was brewed with juniper and peppercorns and then aged for six months in a fragrant gin barrel. 8.5% ABV.
· Wrecking Bar Brewer's Droop Oak-Aged ESB. Our exceptional British-style Extra Strong Bitter (ESB) was oak-aged to accentuate the ale's toasty caramel character and woody hop essence with a pleasing note of vanilla.
Monday, May 31, 2021
Article by Owen OgletreePhotos courtesy of Brick Store Pub and Jim Smith
1997 saw the American craft beer movement just starting to take hold. Three buddies from Athens, Georgia (Dave Blanchard, Mike Gallagher and Tom Moore) had decided to open a specialty beer pub on a slightly downtrodden block in downtown Decatur, Georgia. Many people thought the three guys were nuts. No one predicted how the Brick Store Pub would help change the face of craft beer in Georgia, bring new life to the area and become one of the nation's best craft beer bars.
The Brick Store's front door leads into the atmospheric and welcoming main bar that's loaded with delectable craft beers, while the stairs to the left of the bar take patrons up to the atmospheric Belgian Bar that pours an exceptional range of hand-picked Belgian beers from taps and bottles. The pub's indoor areas have been impacted by the COVID pandemic, much like other bars and restaurants. The creative and resourceful Brick Store owners adapted and kept the craft beer, tasty food and genial fun flowing without hesitation.
The pandemic has undoubtedly changed life for the owners and staff of Brick Store. Tedious details, constant attention to keeping surfaces extra sanitary, preparing more take-out food, dealing with limited indoor seating and managing a large beer garden leads to long hours and anxiety among the staff. Mike Gallagher says that what is at the core of the Brick Store has not changed. "We continue to offer wonderful food and drinks, welcome people into a great atmosphere and offer the highest level of hospitality. Overcoming anxiety and indecision while trying to protect our families, our staff, our customers and our business has been challenging."
Regular Brick Store patrons know that the owners and staff run a top-notch establishment with strict attention to detail. Customer safety during COVID has not been an exception, and strict guidelines were implemented that include masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing and a "one guest at a time limit" in the bathrooms. Dave Blanchard notes, "Our workers are serious about these measures, and we know these guidelines have worked extremely well so far. We love getting daily compliments from our guests regarding our attention to safety."
Along with increased sanitary practices and social distancing, the Brick Store owners continue to monitor ever-changing safety updates and recommendations. Mike Gallagher adds, "We put in an air purification system and do frequent filter changes on our HVAC system. We always have doors open and windows cracked for airflow. Training our staff and holding each other accountable for being vigilant with these procedures have been important."
Patrons who have not visited the Brick Store in a few months will be surprised by the changes since COVID hit. In February, renovations for the entire pub began with new furniture and fixtures, updated kitchen equipment, an overhauled beer system and new booths and seating arrangements downstairs. The cozy upstairs Belgian Bar has been temporarily closed since the initial pandemic shutdown, but the owners hope to find a safe way to reopen it within a few weeks.
Brick Store has set up QR codes around the pub that allow customers to point cameras to view the menus. Customers are encouraged to keep visits to 90 minutes or less, and opening hours have been shortened. "We still have a great seasonal food menu and killer beer list, and we're selling more cocktails than ever," notes Gallagher.
Lessons learned by Brick Store's staff during the pandemic revolve around patience, open-mindedness, creativity and digging deep. "We’ve put new emphasis on listening to staff, guests, science and our community," Blanchard declares.
When asked if anything positive has come from this pandemic experience, the Brick Store owners answer with resounding positivity. "Aside from extra time to accomplish many renovations, we've been able to reconnect with the pub, the staff and the guests," Blanchard explains. "It's been an unforgettable 'we're all in this together' type of experience, and we haven't worked this hard since we first opened. We've come up with new ideas that will benefit us forever. Our exterior 'stroll through' window and beer garden are two prime examples of ideas that would have never happened if not for the pandemic."
Brick Store even opened a type of "soup kitchen" back in early March that served the staff and community. Free food gave the pub a chance to open its doors for those in need, and the owners all admit that this felt really good. Blanchard says he is "counting down the days until we can show everyone all we've done and how good the Brick Store Pub will be for the next whole bunch of years."
The establishment of a new beer garden to the rear of the pub formed a significant epiphany for Gallagher. "Our staff pushed the idea of a beer garden, and it has worked out so well that I imagine it will always be there," he says. "It has been a special and magical place for staff and guests to gather safely, and it has enabled us during this pandemic to continue to feel like we are a hub for our community."
Where does the Brick Store go from here? What does the future hold? With a passionate desire to keep the pub on the public's radar as a world-class craft beer destination, the owners never seem to rest on their accomplishments. This goal involves remaining true to their original vision, making the most of each situation, keeping the staff employed and earning trust and dollars from guests. "I think it's been huge for us to be able to buy from small local farms, breweries and distilleries," Gallagher notes. "If we want to still have these small businesses around on the other side of the pandemic, we need to continue to spend our money this way. This fills our hearts and allows us to offer the best and freshest beer and food while supporting our friends."
The Brick Store owners would like to thank all their loyal customers for the overwhelming support and positive feedback during the last few months. Readers looking for a safe pub can rest assured that the Brick Store has all the bases covered. Blanchard adds, "Our hearts are full from all the love and support we've received, and we hope to return this love to everyone for a very long time to come."
Gallagher tears up as he describes the amazing support shown by the community. "From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everyone who donated to our GoFundMe for our staff, ordered food to go and enjoyed our beer garden, pub and front patio. We absolutely would not be here without your support - and this includes not only dollars spent but also the good wishes, the cheering us on, the letters and all the small gestures of encouragement."
Blanchard, Gallagher and Moore have established long-term, deep and meaningful friendships over the years through their pub. Brick Store patrons won’t be surprised to see everyone at the pub wearing a mask, but the owners hope that everyone will sense the smiles underneath.
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
By Owen Ogletree / Photos courtesy of Hippin' Hops
What do funeral homes, a couple of popular North Carolina restaurants and Georgia's first African American-owned brick-and-mortar brewery all have in common? The answer is entrepreneur Clarence Boston and his wife Donnica. The couple is currently in the construction phase of Hippin' Hops Brewery & Oyster Bar in East Atlanta Village (EAV) at 1308 Glenwood Avenue SE inside the former Eastlake Pharmacy.
Clarence and Donnica sold their largest funeral home in Charlotte, moved to EAV and figured that the historic Atlanta neighborhood would be an ideal place to make their dream of owning a brewery come true. Clarence is a long-time, talented homebrewer whose fascination with craft beer was reinforced during visits to Oktoberfest in Germany and beer halls in the Czech Republic. "We also have a great deal of experience in working with brewery reps and picking craft beers for our restaurants in North Carolina," notes Clarence. "I really enjoy flavorful, classic beer styles, and we want to focus on these at Hippin' Hops. We'll open with IPAs, traditional ales and lagers, porters and stouts, with some trendy things thrown in for fun."
The Bostons considered opening their brewery in North Carolina but could never find a perfect location. Being an enthusiastic businessman, Clarence would often drive around various areas of Atlanta, scoping out available business spaces. "I saw the 'for rent' sign in the window of the old pharmacy building, and the vibe, location and reasonable rent seemed perfect for Hippin' Hops," he recalls.
The Bostons quickly realized that opening a brewery is an entirely different ballgame than starting up a restaurant. "My wife and I filled out all the applications and paperwork by ourselves," recalls Clarence. "This was our first time with brewery paperwork, and it was rigorous. The City of Atlanta wanted this brewery to happen, and they were helpful and made the process not too painful. Then we tackled parking agreements, architect contracts, blueprints and legal matters. It was a complex process that we approached a day at a time. It'll be a lot easier when we start planning our second brewery."
Being next door to Holy Taco and just across the street from Sabbath Brewing will make this block of EAV a hot destination for craft beer lovers and foodies. Both Hippin' Hops and Sabbath Brewing plan full openings around the same time this fall. Clarence is thrilled to have partnered with Sabbath Brewing in the purchase of a mobile canning line that can be rolled between the breweries to produce packaged beers for sale on-site and in retail marketplaces. Clarence notes, "The guys at Sabbath have been great to work with, and it will be handy to help each other out with technical issues and buying ingredients in bulk."
Hippin' Hops' tanks and equipment are now in-house and ready for installation. Taking delivery of the three-barrel brew system and five-barrel unitanks was a great day for Clarence that filled him with pride and a sense of accomplishment. Unitanks allow the brewer to efficiently carbonate beer in less than 24 hours, precisely monitor pressure and then perform a pressurized and closed transfer to a serving vessel, keg or canning machine that minimizes oxidation significantly.
Clarence wants delicious beer to be the star at Hippin' Hops. He plans on overseeing brewery operations but wants to hire a talented brewer who can create a wide range of technically accurate styles. Anyone wanting to apply for the brewing position should email Clarence.Boston@hotmail.com.
Hippin' Hops will be able to accommodate around 60 people outside and at the s-shaped bar and additional interior areas throughout the space. The Bostons are also planning a cozy rooftop patio. Wanting the place to fit in with the vibe of the EAV neighborhood, Clarence visualizes Hippin' Hops as a contemporary brewpub with funky art and old-school hip-hop music in the background. "I think it will be a groovy spot," he says. "For its size, I expect the place to be really busy. EAV is known for its hippie-like, rustic look, and we are sticking to that."
Hippin' Hops' kitchen will be led by Chef Jamarius "J" Banks, who came extraordinarily close to emerging victorious on the Food Network TV show Beat Bobby Flay. Jamarius has made his culinary mark on several popular restaurants in Atlanta - including The Optimist on Howell Mill Road. Seafood, raw oysters and amazing po'boys will be part of Jamarius' jam at Hippin' Hops.
Until the Bostons were informed by the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild; they had no idea that Hippin' Hops would be the state's first African American-owned, independent, in-house brewery. It's an honor that they are proud to possess. "We love diversity and want everyone to enjoy our beer and patronize our brewery," says Clarence. "Everyone matters to us. We have been a part of EAV before moving to North Carolina and even worked at a funeral home in the neighborhood. We love how this community has evolved and become such a vibrant part of Atlanta. Hippin' Hops is going to fit right in."
Friday, April 2, 2021
By Owen OgletreePhotos courtesy of Three Taverns
Richard Wagner once said, "Imagination creates reality." In this spirit, Brian Purcell and his team at Three Taverns Brewery were thrilled last October to open the doors of their much-anticipated Three Taverns Imaginarium at Memorial Drive’s Atlanta Dairies redevelopment. The Imaginarium forms an extension of Decatur’s popular Three Taverns Brewery and is equal parts laboratory, test brewery and tasting room.
"Following delays brought on by COVID-19, we are happy to finally have Three Taverns Imaginarium open to our Atlanta Dairies community," says David Cochran, president and CEO of Paces Properties. "As a well-known Georgia brewery with a successful flagship location in Decatur, Three Taverns has grown to become a prominent Atlanta brand. We are confident the Imaginarium will be welcomed with open arms by the surrounding neighborhoods and beyond."
How did the idea of opening a craft brewery enter the imagination of Brian Purcell, founder and CEO of Three Taverns? He recalls a fateful, beer-indulgent night in Brussels back in 1994 that introduced him to the beauty, complexity and elegance of Belgian Trappist ales. Brian and his friends enjoyed themselves so much that they almost got into trouble while driving across the French border later that evening. This one night formed a significant source of inspiration and creativity for Purcell's entrance into the craft beer business.
Brian Purcell and his wife live in Decatur and love having the original Three Taverns Brewery there. Still, a lunch date on the Atlanta BeltLine a couple of years ago gave the couple an exciting notion. "I saw a very different vibe than Decatur," Brian recalls. "We wanted heavy traffic from young millennials, so we started talking to our staff about a second location near a downtown section of the BeltLine. We could be more experimental on a new, smaller brewing system, but this proves difficult at our Decatur brewery, where we often bypass experimentation to produce enough of our flagship beers to meet demand."
While Three Taverns launched in Decatur in 2013 with an emphasis on Belgian-inspired beers, these Belgian styles now comprise less than 1% of annual sales. Three Taverns has now ventured well outside of Belgium, and the Imaginarium houses a ten-barrel pilot brew system where brewers invent and concoct ales and lagers with creative flavor profiles while also serving the popular standbys. Expect six to eight of Three Taverns' core beers on tap at the Imaginarium, along with a rotating list of 16 to 18 experimental beers comprising an impressive range of styles and brewing techniques.
Brian Purcell hoped that the Imaginarium could hold its own during COVID, but no one predicted just how popular the spot would quickly become. "After only two weeks of opening, the Imaginarium is at 125% in sales compared to taproom sales in Decatur. This is with 100% draft beer at the Imaginarium, versus draft and packaged beer in Decatur."
A great deal of thought and effort went into the creation of the Imaginarium. The vacant Atlanta Dairies location had graffiti covering the brick, and the yard was bare red clay. Still, Purcell focused on the developer's sketches and vision for the historic industrial site. A connected, multi-story deck offers plenty of parking. With condos nearby and a huge new music venue going in next door, the dairy location seemed perfect.
Brian Purcell's actor/artist wife Susie Purcell was not involved in the build-out of the original Three Taverns Brewery, so Brian wanted her to have a direct hand in the design of the Imaginarium. "She has a great sense of style, and she designed most of the interior," notes Brian. "I wanted themes of laboratories and apothecaries to highlight scientific experimentation. Susie worked with architect Square Feet Studios and interior designer firm Metaleaf Creative in making the place perfect."
The upper level of the Imaginarium features a terrace with outdoor seating and a cozy interior lounge with 12 beers on tap. All 24 beers can be sampled from the downstairs bar and beer window. There's also a downstairs patio and landscaped yard with picnic tables and firepits, and the Dairies complex will also be installing additional outdoor furniture, hammocks and heaters in the near future. Thanks to the Imaginarium's "open air" license, patrons can walk anywhere in the Dairy complex with Imaginarium beer in a plastic cup. Brian Purcell recalls, "The first Saturday we opened, the yard looked like a festival with social distancing, baby carriages and dogs. It was so exciting."
Those who are cautious of COVID can find comfortable spaces at the Imaginarium. Masks are required in all areas, unless patrons are seated and drinking. The host seats visitors inside and keeps social distancing in place. The outdoor patios and lawn areas also make spreading out quite easy.
With the Imaginarium's house beer list being so expansive and diverse, Brian Purcell finds it difficult to pick favorites. "I love the story behind our Bozie Jones beer," he says. "Bozie was a prohibition-era, African-American brewer who was busted in 1929 by the Dekalb police for operating his illegal brewery and still. He has to be one of Atlanta's 'OG' brewers. Our Bozie Jones brew is a pre-prohibition lager with additional hops. Due to the pandemic, it sat in the tank for an extra four months of cold storage and mellowing while we waited on the Imaginarium's license. Future batches will never be better than this one."
Cream Weaver orange creamsicle sour ale enjoys a crazy following and was the Imaginarium's number one seller throughout the first weeks of opening. Another crowd favorite, Dairies Milk Stout is made with a dose of lactose milk sugar. "The name honors our location," says Purcell.
Talented Atlanta brewer Neal Engleman recently made the move from Bold Monk Brewing to new head brewer and wood cellar manager at Three Taverns. Neal got his start developing mouth-watering beer recipes at Wrecking Bar Brewpub, and he's excited to now get imaginative at Three Taverns with a line of new brews and tweaked classic recipes.
Looking for food to enjoy with the beer? The Imaginarium works with Wonderkid restaurant that's located just upstairs to bring food down for customers. Heaps New Zealand savory pies can also be found in the warm display case at the end of Imaginarium's main bar.
With a name like Three Taverns, it seems that a third brewery location might make a superb future move. Brian Purcell has an idea for a barrel-aging facility and taproom called "Funkyard" that would house mixed fermentation and classic barrel-aged brews. "But we first need to get through COVID and let the Imaginarium succeed for a length of time," Purcell explains. "We are committed to Georgia, so this barrel facility will definitely be in the Atlanta area, probably close to our Decatur brewery to make it possible to transfer wort and beer easily."
When asked if a distillery or hard seltzers might be on the way, Purcell replies, "Nope. Three Taverns makes beer. I preach this to my employees all the time. When people visit the Imaginarium, I want them talking about our great beer. This makes me a happy man."