Tucker Brewing Company newest addition to Atlanta’s beer sceneTucker Brewing Company's taproom. Photo by Heather Karellas
By Heather Karellas, contributor
A new brewery has made its debut in Atlanta.
Tucker Brewing Company was established in 2017 and opened its doors to the public last month.
Founded by brother and sister duo Ryan Chapman and Ashley Hubbard, the company promises, “German-style beer, southern roots.”
Tucker Brewing Company’s story began in 2016 when Chapman and Hubbard’s father purchased a new warehouse for his company, GPI Group, a firm that manufactures and sells building products. Located in a Tucker industrial park, the warehouse he purchased was roughly 42,000 square feet – much larger than what the business actually needed. The family saw an opportunity to put the extra space to use – but how?
Chapman, who had dabbled with home brew kits previously and lived in Germany as a student, suggested that the family start a brewery. After several years of research and planning, the idea became reality when Chapman attended the Craft Brewer’s Conference in spring 2017 and (somewhat impulsively, he admits) purchased industrial brewing equipment.
After nearly a year of construction and preparation, the brewery held its grand opening on June 2. Chapman and Hubbard anticipated that around 500 people would come out for the big event. Instead, they ended up with a crowd of 3,000.
Taproom Manager Sarah Peterson, a recent Atlanta transplant from the great brewing state of Wisconsin, was instrumental in securing such a big turnout and building excitement for the brewery. Her eight years spent in craft beer sales, distribution, and social/grassroots marketing have helped her become an advocate for the industry.
“I’ve even gone door-to-door to local business owners…the community support is just incredible,” she said.
Today, the brewery offers three core beers: TKR Pilsner, Southern Heaven Hefeweizen, and Georgia Hoppy Brown. The Hoppy Brown will soon morph into a Georgia Red Lager as the recipe is fine-tuned over the coming weeks. Each of the three core beers is a solid, tasty brew. The pilsner boasts slightly floral flavor notes, with a pleasantly surprising honey aftertaste. The hefe is balanced; its flavor includes the banana and clove that you would expect from this style, but the flavor is subtle rather than overbearing. The hoppy brown is a German-style lager that’s slightly more bitter and will appeal to IPA fans.
When asked what differentiates Tucker Brewing Company from other breweries, Chapman was quick to point to his company’s style of beer. Noticeably, an IPA is not part of their core lineup or their near-future plans.
Chapman said, “A lot of breweries are doing [German-style] beers on the side, but no one’s really hanging their hat on them. We want to bring something different to Atlanta. I don’t know that you can go to any bar in Atlanta and get a phenomenal local pilsner or traditional lager.”
Peterson said a lot of Atlanta breweries are creating high-gravity, flavor-packed beers that aren’t necessarily conducive to easy drinking. When it comes to whether these “extreme” beers will remain popular, she said, “I see the pendulum swinging back a bit” toward more approachable beers.
When it comes to the creation of the brewery’s recipes, Head Brewmaster Ben Ludwig is the man behind the beer.
“We give a lot of control to Ben,” said Chapman.
Ludwig moved to Atlanta for this job; previously, he worked as Assistant Brewer at Urban Chestnut Brewing Company in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Ludwig seems to have all the right qualifications for his new role bringing German-style beer to the Atlanta market: he’s a Certified Brewmaster as credentialed by the VLB (Teaching and Research Institute for Breweries) in Berlin. He also holds degrees in German language and anthropology and studied abroad in Heidelberg, Germany during college.
Ludwig’s new playground and laboratory is Tucker Brewing Company’s 30bbl, 4-vessel brewhouse. While the brewery’s operations are small at the moment, they are equipped to grow. Their canning line is capable of producing 65 cans per minute, and the taproom has space for 24 draft beers.
The founders plan to someday purchase a bottling line, as well as possibly expanding the number of fermenters. The team’s plan is to launch a new beer each season in addition to their core lineup and to carefully observe customer reactions to each beer. Future seasonal releases may include a Kölsch, bock, double bock, Berliner, and Dunkel. In the immediate future, an Oktoberfest brew is in the works and scheduled for release in late August. The beer will be part of the brewery’s “Tucktoberfest” event on September 22, coinciding with the official start of Oktoberfest in Germany.
While the four full-time staff members at Tucker Brewing Company are not Tucker natives (Chapman and Hubbard hail from Sandy Springs), they’ve embraced the Tucker community wholeheartedly. Even though they’ve only been open for one month, Tucker Brewing Company has already sponsored a number of local events, including the City of Tucker’s recent 4th of July fireworks celebration. They’re also sponsors of the upcoming Big Peach Sizzler 10k and 5k, an Atlanta Labor Day tradition which benefits Miles for Cystic Fibrosis. Each runner who finishes the race will enjoy a free Tucker Brewing Company beer to help refuel. The brewery’s support of the Tucker area and Atlanta is just one way that they honor their German inspiration.
“The German brewers are a huge part of the community. We want to be a community beer,” said Chapman.
The brewery also wants to be a family-friendly place.
Hubbard said, “Where can you really go where you can have some drinks and bring your kids along in a safe environment?”
This family-friendly vibe was evident during a recent visit to Tucker Brewing Company; on a sunny Saturday, families were taking full advantage of the outdoor picnic tables in the brewery’s enormous beer garden. Parents chatted and relaxed with cold beers in hand while children ran around the kid-friendly sandbox play area. Cornhole boards kept outdoor brewery guests entertained; inside, children and adults alike enjoyed board games provided by the brewery. Classic rock (including Led Zeppelin, Queen, and Foreigner) played in the background – music that Taproom Manager Peterson picked out and fondly refers to as “Dad rock.” Rustic Pizza, a local food truck, was on-site baking pizzas in their wood-fired oven for hungry brewery guests.
Food trucks, live music, and other activities are a mainstay of Tucker Brewing Company. The brewery recently hosted a “Lagers & Laughter” event on Father’s Day, with local comedians taking the stage to entertain the crowd. Food trucks are a regular occurrence on weekend days: recent and upcoming vendors include Deep South Biscuit Company, Mac the Cheese, and On the Roll Maine Lobster.
Team trivia is in the works for Wednesday evenings, and the brewery offers live music on Thursday nights
“I used to play in a band and I love music, so we’re going to have local bands come and play,” Chapman said.
In both its aesthetic and its product, the brewery blends laid-back approachability and upscale quality. The founders shared their desire to deliver the best possible product and service.
“We want to go above and beyond the average,” Hubbard said.
For example, each beer’s can clearly lists its flavor profile on the front as well as suggested food pairings on the back. This was an intentional decision to help demystify craft beer for those who might have previously been afraid to branch outside their usual drink choices.
Although the brewery is very family-friendly, its décor is polished enough to serve as the backdrop for business meetings or other special occasions. The brewery can seat around 600-700 people, thanks in large part to its massive outdoor beer garden.
When asked what’s next for Tucker Brewing Company, the founders mention several priorities. First on the list is distribution: currently, the brewery’s beer can only be found on-site at its physical location. Chapman is optimistic that the brewery could have distribution in place by the end of 2018. Another long-term goal is to have a restaurant on-site. Hubbard, who attended culinary school in New York City, would be instrumental in helping bring that vision to life. Even though the brewery plans to grow and expand, for the time being, both Chapman and Hubbard seem happy with what they’ve accomplished already.
With a lineup of core beers, a fun and entertaining space, and a family-led staff that seems to genuinely care about its community, Tucker Brewing Company seems positioned for success.
Tucker Brewing Company is located at 2003 South Bibb Drive, Tucker, GA. For more information, click here.