Ask Scott Hedeen what’s behind the continued rise of the craft beer movement, and his answer is pretty simple. Hedeen, owner and brewmaster at Burnt Hickory Brewery in Kennesaw, said today’s beer drinkers are going through a palate awakening.
by michael j. pallerino // photography by erin gray cantrell and courtesy of brewers
And who can blame them, with a handful of Cobb breweries delivering a world of flavors to their taste buds; it’s not hard to get caught up in all the madness.
“Similar to the growth of wine in the ’70s, craft beer has become a treat for drinkers looking for more flavor and close proximity to where they live,” Hedeen said.
This much we know, craft beer sales in the United States continues to grow, while overall beer sales have remained flat in recent years. According to the Brewers Association, craft brewers command about 19 percent of the $100 billion U.S. beer market – up from nearly 10 percent since 2012.
Today’s beer drinkers are becoming a lot more engaged with the products they’re drinking. They want full flavored beers that they can actually drink.
“People want high quality beers with full flavors, and that is what craft provides,” said Madison Phillips, director of sales, for Red Hare Brewing Company in Marietta. “They want the next new thing, styles are coming and going each year, and it is up to the craft brewers to stay on top of the trends to keep up with the popular brands in the market.”
Jonathan Baker, co-founder of Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta, said that as long as beer drinkers want to taste outside the box, craft breweries will continue to make their marks.
“People’s tastes are evolving, and we’re still learning that there is more to beer than bland light lagers. Craft beer is such a broad category that there really is a flavor for everyone.”
Here is a snapshot of Cobb’s top breweries.
The Burnt Hickory Brewery
2260 Moon Station Ct., NW # 210
Ezekiel’s Wheel “Zeke” Pale Ale. Cannon Dragger IPA. Big Shanty Graham Cracker Stout. If you’re looking for craft beers with a little local flair, Burnt Hickory Brewery has you covered. Founded in 2011 in Kennesaw, Burnt Hickory rolled out its first beer on April 1, 2012.
After transitioning from a Nano Brewery, (which produce under 200 barrels of beer a year), to a microbrewery, Burnt Hickory continues to build a legion of loyal followers across the state. Today, it makes 15 types of beers every year, including a number of “one off” seasonal brews.
Operating under the mantra – “To be minimal, would be criminal,” Burnt Hickory is known for its cleverly flavored offerings, including beers like Habanero Maple Coffee Stout and Blood Orange IPA.
“People definitely enjoy our clever flavors, but they also enjoy the local connections to our hometown and the history of Kennesaw,” said Scott Hedeen, owner and brewmaster. “We are in most of the bars and liquor stores that carry craft beer, but it doesn’t sit on the shelves long, so if you see it, buy it.”
For 2016, Hedeen said there are more surprises slated. “We are trying to grow as fast as our beer is selling. It’s a hard place – and a good place to be for sure. It’s great to have people want your product and not be able to get it.”
Burnt Hickory Beers
- Ezekiel’s Wheel Pale Ale
- Cannon Dragger IPA
- Big Shanty Graham Cracker Stout
- Fighting Bishop Belgian Style Trippel
- Old Wooden Head Imperial IPA
- Courageous Conductor Red Velvet Porter
- The Didjits Blood Orange IPA
- White Flag Imperial Wit
- Die Kreuzen Imperial Pumpkin Porter
- Eerie Von’s XXXmas Spiced Apple Ale
- Killdozer Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine
- VOID American Wild Ale
Past and Present Acts:
- Charred Walls of The Damned
(Belgian Barleywine aged in whiskey barrels)
- Corrosion of Conformity Imperial Rum Raisin Porter
- The Governor’s Pike Carrot Cake Belgian Dubbel
Monday Night Brewing
670 Trabert Ave NW
Monday Night Brewing’s classic necktie brand and official motto, “Weekends Are Overrated,” was derived from its founders’ white-collar background. The founders – Jeff Heck, Jonathan Baker and Joel Iverson – first became acquainted at an Atlanta Westside Presbyterian Church bible study group in a neighborhood garage. Before long, they would hang out after work and brew beer at home.
In 2011, they launched their Eye Patch Ale and Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale from Smyrna, which were brewed under contract by Thomas Creek Brewery in South Carolina. In 2012, they acquired a 20,000-square-foot building at 670 Trabert Ave. and installed a 30-barrel brewhouse, before eventually launching their first batch of beer in 2013 via tastings and tours.
Ambient lighting. Cozy café-like seating. Walking into Monday Night’s tasting room has craft beer written all over the place. Defined by The Drafty Kilt Scotch ale (smoky, chocolaty, and super smooth) and Eyepatch IPA (crisp and citrusy), people are drawn to the brand for a number of reasons.
“For some it’s the balance in each beer we brew, for others it’s that we’re right down the street,” said co-founder Jonathan Baker. “For others, it’s because they connect with our story.”
For 2016, Monday Night, which is available across Cobb and most of metro Atlanta, just started a canning line, so it is cranking out new beers in cans. Baker said to keep an eye out for Slap Fight, a new West Coast-style IPA, and a reformulated Nerd Alert. “And, perhaps we will have a few surprises along the way.”
Monday Night Brewing Beers
- Fu Manbrew Belgian-Style Wit
- Eye Patch Ale
- Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale
- Blind Pirate Double IPA
- Slap Fight American IPA
- Nerd Alert Pseudo Pilsner
- Seasonal line of Clip-On beers and high-end line of Black Tie Series beers
Red Hare Brewing Company
1998 Delk Industrial Blvd., SE
As the story goes, Roger Davis was semi-retired from his life in Corporate America when he first decided to explore the world of craft brewing in 2009. Teaming with his friend, Bobby Thomas, the duo started brewing its own beer in Davis’ basement.
Armed with a homemade brewing system consisting of a 15-gallon brew pot, water coolers, various tools and hoses, the first recipes of what would become Red Hare Brewing were concocted. It made its debut to beer lovers locally on April 1, 2012.
Today, the Red Hare Brewing Company, located in the heart of Marietta, is an independent microbrewery that has become the toast of craft beer lovers around Georgia, as well as in Alabama, the Florida Panhandle, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Driven by its flagship beer, the Long Day Lager, Red Hare continues to supply the needs of craft beer lovers with offerings such as its year-round Gangway IPA, Cotton Tail Pale Ale and Watership Brown Ale, among a myriad other choices. Red Hare also was the first craft brewery to offer beer in cans in Georgia and currently cans all of its year-round and seasonal varieties.
“We have always been big believers in making refreshing craft brands that bring everyone to the table,” said Madison Phillips, director of sales. “People also want to support their local businesses. We are very proud of our Georgia location and our Southern roots.”
As for this year, the Red Hare team has some very exciting products in the market, including its SPF 50/50 India Pale Radler (available this summer while supplies last).
“Keep an eye on our Facebook page for announcements of our new brands for the fall,” Phillips said. “We are available all over Cobb County, and are proud to partner with numerous local liquor stores, convenience stores, grocery chains, bars and restaurants that sell our beers and sodas.”
Red Hare Beers
- Cotton Tail Pale Ale
- Watership Brown Ale
- Long Day Lager
- Gangway IPA
- SPF 50/50
- Whabbit Wheat
- Hasenpfeffer Oktoberfest
- Sticky Stout
- Forbidden Fruit
- Imperial Red IPA
- Equinox Fresh Hopped IPA
- Thrice Hopped Imperial IPA
- Double Black IPA
- Imperial Red IPA
- Coffee Cream Stout
- Barrel Aged Gangway IPA
- Hoptimistic Hare
- Ill Tempered Hare
- National Common