Atlanta’s oldest brewery, and one of the original breweries to take up residence in the neighborhoods around northwest Atlanta, is closing July 3 and will eventually relocate.
Atlanta Brewing Company announced this week on social media the closure of the taproom and production facility after 15 years on Defoor Hills Road in Underwood Hills. The brewery hopes to relocate further into the city of Atlanta by the end of 2022.
With the move, president and CEO Alton Shields and his business partner Dave Peterson will downsize operations and enter into a partnership with another local brewery to produce some of Atlanta Brewing Company’s beers. Shields says staff dropped from 20 people at the beginning of 2022 down to around four people now. Sources with knowledge of the situation claim the brewery had trouble meeting payroll earlier in the year.
Shields would not disclose the name of brewery involved in the partnership or the new location, only saying all would be revealed in the next week.
“We’re moving into an area that’s starving for more breweries, and really starving for more retail and restaurants and more interesting things for people to do,” Shields says. “So, we’re actually doubling down and moving into the city.”
The brewery’s new in-town location features more seating, food, and will allow the company to return to micro-brewing more experimental beers, as it did during the 2010s under its former moniker, Red Brick Brewing, Shields adds. In the future, the company may consider opening two smaller taprooms along the Beltline, he says, possibly in the Old Fourth Ward and where a new portion of the trail is emerging along Marietta Boulevard on Atlanta’s west side. There’s even talk of opening another close to the Silver Comet trail in Smyrna.
According to Shields, the closure on Defoor Hills is due to a number of culminating factors, including a major rent increase triggering after the current lease ends early next year, ongoing issues with a neighboring property now blocking access to trucks delivering to the brewery’s 30-foot grain silo behind the building, and costs to repair the building and upgrade outdated brewing equipment. Much of the brewery’s equipment is older and operated manually, which means it often sits idle, making it harder to keep up with smaller breweries with much more efficient brewing systems in place, he says.
“We could have moved out to Alpharetta or somewhere in Cherokee County for cheaper land, cheaper building and everything,” says Shields. “We’re Atlanta Brewing. We need to be in the city of Atlanta. So, that’s what we’ve decided to do.”
Atlanta Brewing Company has undergone a number of changes over the course of 27 years, including ownership and shifts in management, its name, and its first location in Midtown.
Founded in 1993 by Greg Kelly, Atlanta Brewing Company was originally located in a converted brick warehouse along Williams Street where it began producing its flagship beer Red Brick Ale, an American wheat-style beer. When Kelly left the company in 2006, the brewery relocated to its present location on Defoor Hills Road in Underwood Hills after the Georgia Department of Transportation announced plans to demolish the building as part of the widening project for the Downtown Connector.
In 2010, the brewery changed its name to Red Brick Brewing Company, an homage to the company’s roots, only to rebrand back to Atlanta Brewing Company in 2018.
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