Last month, Sceptre Brewing Arts opened in Oakhurst, taking over the storefront space that was once home to the short-lived Oak Brewpub.
Like several newer concepts around metro Atlanta, Sceptre is deliberately blurring the lines between what’s commonly been considered a brewpub and a production brewery, with a build-out that includes a seven-barrel brewhouse, a bar and tasting room, a small kitchen, and an expansive beer garden.
Owners Armando Celentano, Benjamin Rhoades and Donald Durant, the partners behind the popular East Atlanta pub Argosy, brought in Trevor Jones as brewmaster.
Jones met Celentano, Rhoades and Durant in 2013, when he became part of the opening bar staff at Argosy. Later, Jones apprenticed at Red Brick (now Atlanta Brewing) and brewed at Orpheus, on the way to completing the American Brewers Guild Brewing Science and Engineering program.
But before his first beers were poured at Sceptre, several of Jones’ new creations were on tap at prominent beer bars around town, including Porter Beer Bar in Little Five Points, the Midway Pub in East Atlanta and Brick Store Pub in Decatur. That somewhat unusual move proved to be both a clever way of building momentum, and a preview of things to come.
“When we started conceptualizing this, we decided it would be a brewpub, but be a brewery first,” Celentano said. “We went into distribution first, which is not common for a lot of brewpubs. We were really proud of the first beers that came out. And to have your first account be the Brick Store is pretty mind-blowing. That’s hallowed ground over there.
“But we want this place to be fun, not fussy. We want it to feel more like a brewery, where you come in, order a beer, order a snack, and hang out. You can come with a large group of friends and have fun in a brewery environment. And we plan on using all the space we have here for beer festivals and outdoor events.”
Jones, who is an Atlanta native, is making all of his beers with grains and other ingredients either grown in Georgia or neighboring states. And he’s focusing on modern styles, inspired by some of his favorite breweries in the South, as well as purveyors like Riverbend Malt House in Asheville, North Carolina.
“Riverbend just expanded, so I get a lot of malt from them, and I get a lot of malt from Epiphany Craft Malt in Durham,” he said. “They do a lot of the roasted stuff I use. And Riverbend has two farms in Georgia, so I can get all Georgia wheat. That was a big inspiration for me, and Fonta Flora in North Carolina and Carolina Bauernhaus in South Carolina and some of those breweries that are trying to make things that are regional, and very specific to the South. I really wanted that to be the backbone of my beers.
“Basically, I’m trying to brew though the canon of beer. I’m starting with some light beers for the summer. But I’m in a brewpub, so I can kind of do whatever I want. I want to have 12 of our own beers on tap on a regular basis, so I’m slowly building up to that with the first eight or nine. There’s a pale ale, a cream ale, an IPA, a double IPA, and what I call a supper ale, which is basically an American table beer. And there’s a cultured ale and a cultured peach ale with a house sour culture, which is different than what a lot of people are doing with quick kettle sours.”
Speaking about having his beer both on tap at Sceptre and at other bars, Jones said it was a response to the way the beer scene is both growing and becoming more local.
“Atlanta is a pretty big city, but the biggest part is this huge metro area around it,” he said. “People who live in Columbus or Athens frequent Atlanta, so it makes sense to me to send beer out there, and then whenever you’re in town, come by and hang out with us. I really wanted to do that, and out distributor, Liberator, makes it easy, because they’ll take as much beer or as little beer as I want to send them.”
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