In December, father-and-son owners Charles and Clay Gridley celebrated the first anniversary of Six Bridges Brewing, the first craft brewery to open in Johns Creek.
When I visited the Gridleys at the brewery earlier this month, they were getting ready to install some larger fermentation tanks — a good sign that the business is growing, and the regular crowds in the taproom are taking to their beer.
Named for the six bridges that once crossed over the Chattahoochee River in Johns Creek, the brewery features a four-vessel, 30-barrel system, with kegging equipment and a canning line, and plenty of room for expansion in the 12,000-square-foot space.
The taproom is open six days a week, offering full pints, half pours, tasters, and four-taster flights, and delivery from a local pizzeria. It hosts food trucks and a variety of sports and community events.
The current lineup of year-round beers includes: Medlock, a double dry hopped, New England-style IPA; Shelby, an American golden ale with honey malt and Citra hops; Sour Continuum, a fruited Berliner Weiss with pink guava; and Silent Accord, a milk stout with toasted coconut flakes and Madagascar vanilla beans.
But there are usually some 15 beers on tap, including one-offs and experimental styles. I tasted a malty Vienna Lager, a light, low-alcohol American IPA, a 6.5% alcohol rye IPA, and an 11% alcohol American-style strong ale.
Charles Gridley graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in chemical engineering, and later worked for Coors in Colorado. Clay Gridley worked as a firefighter, and like his father was an avid homebrewer, before they decided to open a commercial brewery together.
“About two years ago, I retired from my day job and decided I wanted to do something fun,” Charles Gridley said. “I told Clay, ‘Let’s start a brewery.’ He said, ‘OK’ and here we are.”
The Gridleys quickly developed a close working relationship with the Johns Creek planning commission, and found a suitable space on Lakefield Drive in the city’s leafy, manicured Technology Park.
“It needed a lot of work, but the building had loading docks, industrial power, and all the utilities we needed,” Clay Gridley said. “The city actually came up with the name. We wanted something local and historic, and they had a few, but this one jumped off the page, and everybody loved it.
“The taproom is a great spot for the community. We see a lot of neighborhoods come in here and use it for a meeting spot. We try to have exciting events all the time, whether it’s a chili cook-off or a darts contest or NFL games. We want to create a safe space where people can come in and converse, and just kick back and relax.”
“What we really like about the taproom is that you can look out the window and have this outdoorsy view,” Charles Gridley said. “You’d never know the industry and office building were there. It’s like the Chattahoochee River should be right over the hill. In the summer, people are outside sitting at the picnic tables. And on the weekends, the food trucks are here, and everyone enjoys themselves.”
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