When Torched Hop Brewing Co. opens to the public on Friday, it will be the culmination of a longtime dream for Chris and Stephen Bivins, who took over the Old Spaghetti Factory space on Ponce de Leon Avenue in Midtown to create an expansive new brewery-restaurant and bar.
The Bivins brothers grew up in Alpharetta and graduated from Auburn University with degrees in Entrepreneurship and Family Business. Chris, who is the brewer, started out as an intern at Five Seasons Brewing Co. in Alpharetta and was the head brewer at White Street Brewing Co. in Wake Forest, N.C. Stephen, who takes care of the business side and helps oversee the front of the house, comes from a restaurant background.
The original model for Torched Hop was San Diego’s Pizza Port brewpubs, which feature award-winning beers with a basic menu of pizzas and salads. But the plans changed after the Bivinses settled on the location and brought longtime Atlanta chef Mark Nanna into the mix.
“The concept is very, very different now,” Chris Bivins said one recent afternoon at Torched Hop. “We were thinking of something around 4,000 square feet, but this is over 11,000 square feet.”
The layout includes large lobby and bar areas in the front of the building. A shiny new 10-barrel brewhouse serves as the focal point on the main floor, with the dining room situated on a mezzanine above and a game room with an indoor bocce ball court below. The bar will feature 16 rotating Torched Hop beers on tap, which will be available in flights, plus four more taps for local cider and guest beers. In addition to a pale ale, opening beers will include a Belgian golden ale and a milk stout.
“One of the biggest things we wanted to focus on with this brewpub was supporting local, so we’ll have over 100 bottles at the bar from local and regional breweries,” Chris Bivins said. “As far as our own beers, I’m a hop head, so we’ll have a lot of West Coast-style IPAs. We’ll also have a Belgian house strain with a golden, a triple and a dark strong.”
Nanna’s resume includes working with Scott Peacock at Watershed, opening Flip Burger Bar as executive chef with Richard Blais, and stints with Hector Santiago at Pura Vida, Michael Tuohy at Woodfire Grill, and most recently serving as executive chef at the Lawrence.
“I took little bits and pieces and learned a whole lot from everybody,” Nanna said, “but my most serious chef influence is Richard (Blais). I had a lot of years with him, so a lot of my tricks and techniques come from that. But working at a brewpub is a good fit because I think my food overall is always elevated pub food. And we have plenty of room to play around and change the menu from time to time.”
While Nanna’s opening menu does include pizza and salads, there’s an equal emphasis on small plates, burgers and sandwiches, along with mains such as roasted salmon and steak frites. His jumbo whole wings are rubbed with French curry and served with a cilantro avocado sauce. St. Louis ribs are bathed in Sriracha butter and topped with sweet pickled peppers. The mussels in the Belgian-style moules frites are steamed in garlic butter and beer and drizzled with smoked mayo.
Beyond the beer and food, the full bar will include a good number of wines by the glass, as well as specialty cocktails created by bar manager Justin Wickline, who will be familiar to many from the Porter Beer Bar in Little Five Points.
“The goal for the bar program is to not only feature local and regional specialties but to have a little something for everybody,” Wickline said. “It’s definitely an exciting time and it’s been fun to play around with this bar and be able to support what’s going on in the beer scene here in Atlanta and Georgia and the surrounding states.”
Click the images below to check out the full menu.
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