Beer Town: Atlanta’s Fire Maker opens in burgeoning brewery district

Atlanta’s Fire Maker Brewing has been operating in soft opening mode since March 6.

Located in a freestanding building on Chattahoochee Avenue, in what’s being called the “Westside Atlanta Brewery District,” the 9,000-square-foot space houses a 20-barrel Deutsche brewhouse, plus a 2.5-barrel pilot system, with a total production capacity of 3,500 barrels a year, and room for expansion.

The taproom features 34 tap handles behind the bar, with 10-15 beers currently on draft, including four core brands: Perfect Match IPA; Way Down Yonder Helles; Hazed and Blazed New England IPA; and Space Dragon Double IPA.

All four of those beers are currently in distribution with draft accounts, and the brewery’s Wild Goose canning line is slated to be up and running, with packaged products available in the market in May or June. The long-range plan is to offer many more beer styles, plus seltzers, ciders and eventually spirits. The Fire Maker team is helmed by owner and Georgia beer business veteran Elliott Hall, with a team that includes head brewer Tyler Cox, marketing manager Rachel Bramer and taproom manager Tracy Bardugon.

Recently, I caught up with Hall at Fire Maker, where he took me on a tour through the brewery, which features a covered patio and “beer walk,” private event areas, and a large mural by artist Jordan Atkinson with a version of the company’s dragon logo.

“I wanted the bar right up front-and-center, where it’s the first thing you see when you walk into our brewery,” Hall said. “Right out of college, I got a job with United Distributors, and I’ve been in the industry ever since, until last year when we started to build the brewery. My family is in construction, and we’re all sort of carpenters, so we did most of the work ourselves.

“The fire in Fire Maker is whatever somebody’s passion is. It’s that thing you can’t help but do. And if you’re pursuing it, you’re a Fire Maker, too. Now I’m fortunate to do what I love every day. With Fire Maker, the dragon just kept coming up. Throughout history and mythology, dragons have meant fortune and luck, but also dread and chaos. It’s a reminder that you can either embrace life or you can hide from it.”

Talking about production, Hall said there will always be a mix of small-batch taproom-only releases and core beers made for distribution.

“Our pilot system is how we’re going to fill those 30-plus tap handles,” he said. “Coming from the distribution side, I was with United when a lot of the Atlanta breweries were launched. And I really want to make what people really want to drink in the mass production market. I love a wide range of beers. But in production, we really want to brew what the market wants, and what the distributors want to sell.

“In-house in the taproom, we are going to do a lot of different things, from traditional styles to experimental beers, and, of course, we will have seltzers. I’m also getting our spirits license, and I hope we’ll have some spirits here towards the end of the year. And then ciders, as well. But we’re going to be pretty strict about what goes out the door. If something is not the quality we want, it’s not going out.”

Asked how Fire Maker intends to make its mark in Atlanta at a time when so many new breweries are opening, Hall took a minute to think about his answer.

“I think you need a good product, and good customer service,” he said. “You need good branding. You need good management. You need people who specifically know the industry they’re in. I’m very fortunate that the people I brought on so far are experienced in exactly what they do. And there’s enthusiasm, too. You’ve got to be out there pushing your product, and showing people that you live and breathe this.”

FIRE MAKER BREWING

975 Chattahoochee Ave. NW, Atlanta. 678-705-8777, firemakerbeer.com.

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