Beer Town: Atlanta Brewing Co. rebrands, celebrates 25 years this month

Atlanta Brewing Co. celebrates its 25th anniversary on Sept. 29. CONTRIBUTED BY ATLANTA BREWING CO.

Atlanta Brewing Co. celebrates its 25th anniversary on Sept. 29. CONTRIBUTED BY ATLANTA BREWING CO.

Atlanta Brewing Co., which until a major rebranding move late last month was most recently known as Red Brick Brewing Co., will mark its 25th anniversary this month with a series of collaboration beers. And on Sept. 29, there’s a big party at the brewery.

Though Atlanta Brewing is Georgia's oldest craft brewery, charting its history can be tricky. Since 1993, it's changed names, locations, owners, management and brewery teams, and rebranded numerous times.

More vexing, its sales moved up and down, while rival breweries such as SweetWater and Terrapin grew steadily, and relative newcomers such as Creature Comforts and Scofflaw exploded.

But given the current state of the craft brewing business, marking a quarter of a century of making beer is no mean feat. And most longtime observers think the current team — which includes president and brewmaster Garett Lockhart and director of brewing operations Gavin McKenna — is on the right track.

Among the positive signs, United Distributors is now distributing Atlanta Brewing beers in Georgia, and is expected to give a boost to building the brand.

A new lineup of canned beers is part of the rebranding of Atlanta Brewing Co. CONTRIBUTED BY ATLANTA BREWING CO.

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The new branding includes a new logo and can design, with three core offerings — Homestand Pilsner, Soul of the City Pale Ale, and the flagship Hoplanta IPA — plus a new contemporary IPA called Hartsfield in the mix.

“It’s good to know that we’ve always been the Atlanta Brewing Co.,” Lockhart says by way of explaining the nuances of the rebranding. “But over the last 10 years, we’ve been doing business as Red Brick. That change was made because there was some ups and downs with the brewery in the old days, and even maybe some quality issues.

“But about a year ago, my new management team came to me and said they wanted to take the company back to the old Atlanta Brewing Co. and do a full rebrand. I was against it at first. But they put a presentation together, and we presented it to the board, and they bought into it. And 25 years is a milestone, and that on top of a new relationship with United Distributors, that set the table for all of it.”

Described as a “contemporary IPA,” the new Hartsfield has become a symbol and pivot point of the new look and direction — and it’s certainly aimed at beer drinkers who favor “tropical” IPAs like Creature Comforts Tropicalia.

“Hartsfield was something I brought to the production team when we were starting to change over and looking at what the rebrand would do to the current core beers,” McKenna says. “Homestand and Soul of the City were beers that were designed and named to carry over through the transition and show well as Atlanta Brewing Co. beers.

“We felt like we had a little bit of work to do with Hoplanta to figure out what direction it was going to go in. We were kind of torn between that and this whole new-school IPA thing. But also Hoplanta having a following as a classic West Coast IPA. Since IPA is king, my idea was why don’t we do both. So we created something that was really contemporary with Hartsfield. And we believe there’s a spot on the shelf for both of those beers because of the ways IPA has diverged.”

Asked about the way forward beyond the 25th anniversary, Lockhart was optimistic.

“We believe that the path to success and longevity in this industry will ultimately come down to quality,” he said. “Consumers, I think, will get tired of being burned by investing $10 or $11 on a six-pack and not being pleased by their choice.

“So we are investing in quality. We’re trying to produce consistent, well-made beers, and showcase them in our core lineup. And we’re supporting them with fun, unique, exciting beers that are on-trend, and hopefully some stuff that’s ahead of trend.”


Celebrate the 25th anniversary of Atlanta Brewing Co. with a party at the brewery from noon-10 p.m. Sept. 29. Free admission (does not include price of beer and food). Special beers on tap, including the anniversary Double IPA, will be available on draft throughout the day and to go in 16-ounce four-packs. Live music all day, along with food trucks. 2323 Defoor Hills Road NW, Atlanta. 404-355-5558,