On one wall of the tiny tasting room, surrealistic portraits of Civil War figures by the designer of Burnt Hickory’s labels, Nashville artist Mr. Hooper, depict scenes from the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain.
“That’s Leonidas Polk,” Hedeen said, pointing to a painting of a feisty looking man dressed as a cleric. “He was an Episcopal bishop and a Confederate general who was killed about a mile from here. His nickname was the Fighting Bishop, so our green peppercorn Belgian triple is called the Fighting Bishop.”
The other Civil War beers in the current Burnt Hickory lineup include Ezekiel’s Wheel Pale Ale, Cannon Dragger IPA and Big Shanty Graham Cracker Stout.
“Our branding is going toward the attitude and the swagger of the time,” Hedeen said. “The battle was right here. It was kind of like a Motorhead concert, except they had it in 1864. It was loud and obnoxious and deadly.”
Hedeen’s psychotronic cinema sensibility can be traced to comic book collecting and a degree in film from Towson University in Maryland. He’s a retired Emmy Award-winning TV cameraman who moved to Atlanta in 1997 to take a job at WXIA. Like so many commercial brewers, he started as a home brewer.
But what seems to really drive Hedeen’s passion is music. In the '70s, '80s and early '90s, he collected all kinds of punk, grunge and hard-core music and memorabilia, amassing rarities such as a Nirvana set list written by Kurt Cobain that Hedeen sold to help fund the “nano-size” Burnt Hickory operation.
Later, in the brew house, which isn’t much bigger than a sophisticated home brew setup, Hedeen blasted the Stooges’ “Fun House” album and raided the cold room for samples of limited-edition beers he’d made in tribute to favorite bands such as the Germs, Jesus Lizard and Die Kreuzen. Recently, Mojo magazine had a short item on Burnt Hickory’s Killdozer 12 Point Buck Ale.
Hedeen said his plan to start really small, break into the market and build a following has a part two that calls for expanding into a much bigger brewery as soon as possible.
“What’s going to make us work is our passion,” Hedeen said. “l always say we may be a small brewery, but we’re making big beers.”