Beer Town: Atlanta Brewing becomes Red Brick

Without fanfare, big change has been under way at Atlanta Brewing Co. There's a new name, Red Brick Brewing. There are new Red Brick labels.

There’s also a new direction.

The company has shifted focus outside of Atlanta to markets in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.

“We haven’t put a new sign on the outside of the building yet, but we've been thinking about this for awhile,” Red Brick president Bob Budd said in a recent interview. "It’s about getting our public image in line with our product name.”

Founded in 1993, Atlanta Brewing is the oldest operational craft brewery in Georgia. Since the beginning, its beers have been known as Red Brick.

“Having two names has confused people for a long time, and now that we’ve expanded into six other states, there’s no reason to confuse those people, too," Budd said. "We thought this was a great time to rebrand the company to be the same as the brand of beer.”

Despite Red Brick’s hometown position, Budd admits that Atlanta is a tough place to sell beer.

“We’re hoping to grow the Atlanta market this year, but this is the most competitive market in the Southeast," Budd said. "Sweetwater has done a great job here and so has Terrapin. Getting out there beyond Atlanta has really helped us. We’re growing considerably in Florida and South Carolina. Surprisingly enough, Alabama is doing well and Mississippi is doing extremely well.”

Last year’s relaunch of Laughing Skull, in partnership with the Vortex Bar and Grill, has been another unexpected boon to Red Brick sales, Budd said. Longtime brewer Dave McClure created a new recipe, changing Laughing Skull from a Bohemian pilsner-style lager to an amber ale.

“Laughing Skull is our No. 1 seller right now,” McClure said. “When we go to new markets, that’s the beer everyone wants.”

Red Brick Brown, Blonde, Pale Ale and Porter are still the heart of the year-round lineup. Red Brick Helles Bock is the current seasonal. And McClure is working on a new series of limited edition barrel-aged beers for select draft accounts, including a spiced version of his summer brew.

Overall, McClure and Budd agree it's a busy time at the brewery, no matter what name is on the front of the place.

“We were within dollars of breaking our all-time monthly sales record last month,” Budd said. “I think we’re going to set new a record this month, and I think we’re going to have a really strong year. For the first time since I’ve been here, our challenge is making enough beer to fill all of our orders.”