Beer Town: Jekyll Brewing bringing Southern style to Alpharetta

Tours: 5-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; 1-9 p.m. Saturdays. 21 and up only. Jekyll Brewing, 2855 Marconi Drive, Suite 350, Alpharetta.

Beer Pick: Hop Dang Diggity

Jekyll Brewing, Alpharetta

Available on draft and in growler shops

Profile: Jekyll describes Hop Dang Diggity as a "Southern IPA" with a "Georgia pine aroma" and a "malty backbone." That's a pretty good description of an aromatic beer that balances sweetness and bitterness with a nice smooth finish.

Pair with: Try Hop Dang Diggity with Southern smoked barbecue and spicy Asian and Latin dishes.

Named for Jekyll Island, believed to be the site of the first brewery in the Deep South, circa 1738, Jekyll Brewing lays claim to being the first packaging brewery in Alpharetta.

Hidden away in a nondescript building on Marconi Drive, near Big Creek Greenway and a slew of high-tech companies, the brewery opened to the public for tours and tastings in August.

It was funded in part by Kickstarter donations. Founder Mike Lundmark and co-owner/brewer Josh Rachel launched the campaign in early 2013 to raise money to pay for the electrical and plumbing work.

“We’ve run out of money about 73 times, so far,” Lundmark said during a recent tour. “But somehow, we keep getting more. With Kickstarter, we raised $37,000 in 28 days.”

Compared with some of the breweries that have opened recently in metro Atlanta, Jekyll is a modest operation. The 10-barrel brew house is packed into a tight warehouse space and is absent electronic bells and whistles, except for temperature controls.

“When we’re brewing, we brew three times a day,” Lundmark said. “We’re doing three batches to make 30 barrels and busting our tails 18 hours a day. Everything we do is truly handcrafted from front to back. We want to smell and taste and touch and see our beer.”

Jekyll started out with three beers, then quickly added two more, all designed by Rachel, who was an award-winning local home brewer with a talent for replicating classic styles before partnering with Lundmark.

Big Creek Kolsch is a light, crisp take on the classic German style, with fruity hints of pear and a dry finish. Hop Dang Diggity IPA is a hoppy but very well balanced representation of the wildly popular American style. Cooter Brown is a smooth brown ale with robust roasted malts and typically American hop bitterness.

The two newest are ‘Merican Amber, an easy-drinking ale with caramel malt balanced by hop bitterness, and Southern Session, a low-alcohol, lightly hopped take on a “lawn mower beer.”

Though, currently, the beers are only available in kegs — meaning at restaurants, bars and growler shops — Jekyll will be adding a bottling line, soon. And, of course, you can try them during tours and tastings at the brewery or at several fall beer festivals.