Photo courtesy of Atlanta Brewing Co.
By Matthew Pharr, contributor
From quarreling with Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) over a road expansion that threatened their facility to shakeups in management, Atlanta Brewing Co. — formerly Red Brick Brewing — is no stranger to adversity. Their journey has been tumultuous, but the brewery is hoping to find a new identity by returning to its roots.
Georgia’s oldest craft brewing company will be celebrating their 25th anniversary at their brewery, located at 2323 Defoor Hills Road, on Sept. 29. Planned activities include live music, food, sports and a pet adoption booth. However, this isn’t simply an anniversary party, it’s a celebration of a rich history and a reconnection with the company’s foundations.
Atlanta Brewing Co. was founded in 1993 by Greg Kelly, a former Guinness executive, according to company materials. Using a large red malt mill that was found abandoned in an English meadow, along with vats and cold tanks purchased in England, the company set up shop at 1219 Williams Street.
In 2004, a proposed GDOT road expansion threatened to uproot the company from their headquarters. Bob Budd, a management consultant and future company president, negotiated a settlement with the GDOT, and in 2006 the company resettled at their current Defoor Hills location, company materials indicate.
When asked about the rebranding, marketing director, Cameron Davis told Atlanta Loop, “We started off as Atlanta Brewing Company in 1993. Around 2010 they decided to rebrand to Red Brick because that was the most popular beer at the time, and felt that the consumer base had lost faith in Atlanta Brewing Company because there were some quality issues.”
However, the brand never really rang true. “We felt like the Red Brick name… it doesn’t really mean anything to the city, it doesn’t really mean anything to us. Everyone in the company now was not there then. We have a whole new management staff,” Davis said. “We’ve done a lot of changes over the past year working on the beer quality and making a better taproom experience. It kind of felt weird to us celebrating twenty-five years of Red Brick, when Red Brick was started in 2010.”
The rebranding isn’t just a name change. There are 40 Atlanta Brewing Co. events in September alone to establish the new name and solidify the brand in the minds (and on the tongues) of residents.
To coincide with Atlanta Brewing’s new image, they are releasing a new beer called Hartsfield IPA that will join their core beer lineup alongside Hoplanta IPA, Soul of the City Pale Ale and Homestand Pilsner, Davis says. They are also releasing a twenty-fifth anniversary Double IPA that will be available at their celebration on Sept. 29. In addition, Atlanta Brewing Company has collaborated with many other breweries on specialty beers throughout the Southeast region. Davis estimates that they are currently releasing two to three beers a week.
When asked why the company would go back to their original name as opposed to coming up with a new name, Davis said, “We weren’t trying to reinvent a new brewery. We are proud of our history. We’re the oldest craft brewery in Georgia. We’re one of the oldest in the Southeast. We never even considered going to another name.”