If all goes according to plan, in late September, Atlanta’s Monday Night Brewing will open a second location along a recently completed section of the Atlanta BeltLine in the West End.
Dubbed The Garage, the ambitious 22,000-square-foot warehouse space at Lee and White streets is being transformed into new facility for sour and barrel-aged beers.
The buildout will feature a tasting room and private event space, the capacity for open fermentation with a coolship and multiple foeders, and a landscaped urban orchard that will provide fruit and wild yeast for new and experimental beers.
Co-founders Jeff Heck, Joel Iverson and Jonathan Baker started Monday Night as home brewing project in 2006.
In 2011, they released two beers, Eye Patch Ale and Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale, that were brewed under contract in South Carolina and distributed in Atlanta.
Four years ago, Monday Night built a full-fledged brewery and tasting room in a warehouse off Howell Mill Road, becoming the first new craft brewery in metro Atlanta since SweetWater opened in 1997.
In context of the all growth and changes going on in the Atlanta beer scene, and the larger American craft beer scene, Monday Night seems to be moving in the right direction. But the question remains, is The Garage too big an undertaking?
“There’s nothing safe about opening a brewery, in general, particularly in the Southeast,” says Baker, who serves as the company’s marketing and creative director. “But we got to a place where we were realizing that we should do exactly what we set out to do. And that’s to leave our mark on the beer industry.
“I’d say we probably were complacent for a year or so, in terms of beer releases and some other things. This is kind of the culmination of a few moves. It’s go big or go home, right? We see the beer culture changing here in Georgia and in Atlanta.”
Baker notes that a big part of that change is number of new breweries that have opened nearby Monday Night in recent years.
“You have these great breweries like Orpheus and Three Taverns and Wild Heaven all opening up and all doing something a little bit different. We just did some soul-searching, and said this is who want to be, and now is time.”
In addition to the news about the opening of The Garage, Monday Night recently announced the addition of two new beers to its core lineup.
Han Brolo is a contemporary hazy-juicy pale ale brewed with wheat malt and Simcoe, Mosaic, and Mandarina Bavaria hop. Dr. Robot is a blackberry lemon sour brewed on a pilsner base.
And with those new brews, it’s currently making the switch from bottles to cans with all new new look.
“The shift from bottles to cans will begin in mid-September and should be complete by November throughout the market,” Baker said. “We rebuilt our canning line, and we'll be moving the bottling line down to The Garage, where we'll be using it for 500 and 750 ml bottles of production beers there.”
As it turns out, Baker designed the new beer cans, creating a graphic that celebrates the familiar Monday Night necktie logo in a bolder, more colorful way.
“It’s probably pretty rare for one the founders to still be doing the graphic design,” Baker said. “But to me it’s kind of like this are that I developed. We had this branding for six years without any changes and all, and we thought with all the other changes, let’s tweak that, too.”
Beyond putting his mark on the Monday Night brand, Baker has the distinction of being the brewery’s very first employee, going to work at the brewery’s office while the other two founders kept their day jobs.
“Starting back in 2011, I was the only employee for eight months, and I was only half-time,” Baker remembers. “Now we have 26 full-timers and a small army of part-timers. We've grown through many stages, already, but we're still very early in our life cycle as a company.
“At this point we’re going through our awkward teenage years. We’re not a small start-up any more. But we’re trying to put the right pieces in place to help grow even more in the future. And one way for that growth to happen is what we’re doing now.”