Sceptre Brewing Arts, the new venture from the team behind Argosy in East Atlanta Village, soft-opened in mid-June, replacing the short-lived Oak Brewpub in the heart of Oakhurst.
Owners Armando Celentano, Benjamin Rhoades and Donald Durant are joined by Argosy and Sceptre culinary director Michael Person and general manager Drew Gillespie. But in many ways, brewmaster Trevor Jones is the driving force behind the craft brewery and beer garden. Jones met Celentano, Rhoades and Durant in 2013, when he became part of the opening bar staff at Argosy.
Jones apprenticed at Red Brick (now Atlanta Brewing), and brewed at Orpheus, before completing the American Brewers Guild Brewing Science and Engineering program last year. At Sceptre Brewing Arts, Jones’ beers are made with grains and other ingredients either grown in Georgia or neighboring states, with a focus on modern styles, often fermented with house yeast and sometimes the addition of a sour culture.
Look for the likes of Built on Ashes India Cream Ale with Loral Cryo Lupulin Powder, Snake Nation Cultured Pale Ale with raw Georgia wheat, and Dolphin Flip Cola Stout with seven different grains and Scottish ale yeast.
Beyond beer, some 20 taps pour Jones’ house-made ginger beer, nitro iced coffee made with beans from East Pole Coffee, draft wine, and a couple of rotating guest beers from friends’ breweries. On the spirits side, current house cocktails include the tall, refreshing Peter Buck with Genever, Gran Classico, lemon and bitters.
Person’s menu at Sceptre is a bit more abbreviated than his menu at Argosy, leaning to snacks, spreads, meat and cheese boards, and sandwiches served on New England-style hot dog rolls.
Many of the dishes are centered on smoked meats, including steelhead trout, short rib, pulled pork butt and jerk wings. Among the larger plates, Southern Style Fish N’ Chips is fish-fry-style cornmeal-battered haddock with tartar sauce and frites.
Much like Argosy, the design mixes handcrafted and mythic elements, with the bar, dining room and kitchen situated below street level, and glass garage windows that offer views of the patio and beer garden above.
The artisan wood and raw metal decor is highlighted by a battling bird and snake mural. And stacks of barrels for wood-aging beer bring a touch of the brewing experience to the tasting room.
Last week, Celentano and Jones sat down at a table at Sceptre to talk about the design, and the beer and food.
“We always had opening a brewery in our 10-year plan, and this was an opportunity we took that accelerated that a little bit,” Celentano said. “We knew if we could get somebody like Trevor on board, and we could make good beers, we felt like it would be successful.”
As far as the design, Celentano said the goal was to blur the lines between inside and outside, and use the wooded lot next door as inspiration.
“First off, we wanted to take advantage of the beautiful view we have out of the great big garage windows here. When we were conceptualizing this place, we’d sit at the bar and look out the windows, and we’d see red-tailed hawks and barred owls up there. So we really wanted to bring that feeling of the natural world inside a little bit. We found Brittany Baum, who did the mural, and kind of designed out from there.
“We wanted to do a big, beautiful beer garden. Maybe not traditional. It doesn’t have long picnic benches, and servers aren’t running around with big steins of beer. But we wanted that feeling of being outside in a very communal, very casual service environment.”
Asked about the food, Celentano said “simple” was the word. “We wanted to use locally made ingredients, but do it in such a way that it didn’t distract from the beer. There’s not a lot of knife-and-fork stuff on the menu. It’s things that we feel elevate the beer, but can be enjoyed holding it in one hand and holding a beer in the other hand.”
Asked about his approach to brewing, Jones cited his time working as a server, and his interest in “style-bending.”
“I’ve had lots of different kinds of experiences with beer,” Jones said. “I’ve worked in some great beer bars, and tasted some awesome beers from all over the world. But I think what has inspired me most is the super style-bending, new American brewing. You kind of take inspiration from everything, but you do your own thing. You create your own identity, and we have the freedom to do that now.
“With this project, I wanted to be 100% Southern malt-focused. I really wanted that to be the backbone of my beers. And then I wanted to kind of push styles. I’m never going to call any of my IPAs New England. I will use some of those techniques, but I’m not in New England. Right now, I really love light, crispy, lovely, well-rounded beers. I feel like I brew kind of like a mixologist would. I play around with all kinds of different flavor profiles.”
630 East Lake Drive, Suite E, Decatur. 470-428-4359, sceptrebrewingarts.com.
Scroll down for more images from a Sceptre Brewing Arts in Oakhurst
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.