Georgia may not technically allow production breweries to sell beer directly to consumers, but if and when it does, Monday Night Brewing will be ready: It’s planning to open a large tasting room as part of a $2 million satellite brewery expansion.
“It’s not without risk,”Jonathan Baker, co-founder of the Atlanta-based Monday Night Brewing, told Brewbound. “My stance is that they can’t take my house twice. We’ve already got everything on the line with this first brewery, and we think this is where the future of where Atlanta beers go. We think the laws become a little more brewery friendly in the coming years.”
In recent years, the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild — and its craft brewery members — have fought for on-premise, direct-to-consumer sales. Earlier this year, state lawmakers agreed to allow beer as a “souvenir” that breweries could offer as part of paid tour packages, but consumers still aren’t allowed to just show up at a taproom and quaff back a pint.
Despite those restrictions, Monday Night Brewing — which is one of Georgia’s largest craft breweries and is on pace to produce 15,000 barrels of beer this year — is moving forward with a 22,000 sq. ft. facility that will also include a tasting room, a patio and an orchard, Baker said.
Although specific design plans have not been finalized, Baker said the tasting room could be as large as 10,000 sq. ft.
“We are in the architectural stage of developing plans,” Baker said. “The goal would be to have final drawings by the end of the year and break ground in February or March.”
Baker is betting that Georgia breweries will eventually be allowed to offer consumers full pours without having to participate in a tour. Even if that doesn’t happen next year, his company would still need additional space to produce its growing collection barrel-aged and sour beer offerings.
That’s why Baker is pushing forward with plans to open the new facility, which will be located just five miles south of its current 20,000 sq. ft. facility on Atlanta’s Westside.
“We’re unable to do a lot of the types of things with sours that we’d like to do at our current facility,” Baker said, “and we don’t want to risk cross contamination. We’ll have multiple rooms with different climate controls and a cool ship. We’ll also have foeders.”
“Regulating the climate in the room is key to our success,” he added. “We simply needed space to do that somewhere else.”
The new space, slated to open next summer, will be situated along Atlanta BeltLine’s Westside Trail, a planned 22-mile loop inside Atlanta’s city limits that will connect neighborhoods and parks.
It’s located in the same area where Mitch Steele, the former Stone Brewing Co. brewmaster, plans to open his new brewpub.
Monday Night Brewing said it would use bank funding and cash flow to finance the project.
Monday Night Brewing will also plant an orchard, which Baker hopes will give the project more of a “farm-brewery” feel. The plans call for the fruit trees in combination with open-air fermentation vessels to allow the brewery to spontaneously ferment its beer using flora in the air.
“We’ll be planting a lot of varieties of apples, Asian pears, persimmons, mulberries, and grape vines,” Baker said. “There’s a lot of great souring bacteria attracted to fruit trees. We’ll be drawing that air into the brewery in order to ferment. We’ll also be harvesting fruit and using it in some of our products as well.”
Knowing that many of the beers that will be barrel-aged and soured at the facility are sometimes years away from consumption, Baker is viewing an investment into the new space as more of a long-term play.
“Our goal would be to do some of those traditional sours that take two to three years to age, but it would be great to use fruit that we grow in what we brew,” Baker said. “You won’t see this facility hit its stride for two to three years depending on how the aging process lasts.”