Pontoon is growing with new Tucker brewery and taproom

Pontoon Brewing co-owner Sean O’Keefe is shown behind the bar at the new taproom in Tucker known as “The Lodge.” (Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Pontoon Brewing co-owner Sean O’Keefe is shown behind the bar at the new taproom in Tucker known as “The Lodge.” (Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Since opening in Sandy Springs in December 2017, Pontoon Brewing has steadily expanded its distribution around the U.S. and in several European countries.

Last month, the company opened a new taproom in Tucker, which is part of a 33,000-square-foot industrial space dubbed The Lodge that also serves as its main production and packaging facility.

Recently, Pontoon co-owner Sean O’Keefe conducted a tour of the new brewery, which includes a 5-vessel, 30-barrel Alpha Brewing Ops brewhouse, a 5-barrel Tiantai pilot system, and a new lab.

“The primary objective of Tucker is production,” O’Keefe said. “This space will allow us to go up to 61,000 barrels. In fact, we’re very close to brewing now. It’s a really nice customized system, and we have plenty of room to grow. Our first full year, we’re estimating making 12,000 to 15,000 barrels.”

With that growth, Pontoon plans to distribute beer to 11 more states, plus China and Japan.

“The Sandy Springs location will focus on barrel aging, lagering, wild ales, and experimental beers,” O’Keefe said. “The 5-barrel system here will allow us to test batch our beers and have the best beers we can put out.”

Pontoon Brewing recently opened a new taproom and production facility in Tucker. (Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Bob Townsend

icon to expand image

Credit: Bob Townsend

Stepping into the taproom, the look is appropriately lodge-like with rustic wood accents around the bar, some 24 taps, and three TVs that display the current beer menu.

“We’re planning on having permanent vendors with prepared food to serve here,” O’Keefe noted. “Tucker is very family-friendly. We saw that on our first day opening, so we’ll have a kids section, too.”

Pontoon is known for making some wild and crazy beers, such as Rainbow Smiggles, which uses Skittles and Trix cereal in its recipe. But O’Keefe contends the brewery’s success is more than that.

“First, we’re a pretty approachable brand,” he said. ”You don’t have to be this uber craft beer nerd to enjoy our beer. We make all the crazy stuff, but we also make traditional beers. We do Belgians and lagers and West Coast IPAs, along with the crazy fruited sours and big thick stouts.”

Asked if he sees the beer market changing, O’Keefe nodded.

“It’s a circle that’s constantly changing,” he said. “Two years ago, a lot of the same crowd that’s now getting into lagers were into big hazy IPAs and big stouts. People are evolving, and their tastes are changing.”

Pontoon's One Ski is a clean balanced IPA fermented with English ale yeast. BOB TOWNSEND FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Bob Townsend

icon to expand image

Credit: Bob Townsend

As far as marketing the Pontoon brand, O’Keefe believes in being aggressive.

“That really sets Pontoon apart,” he said. “We’re really aggressive when it comes to collaborations and festivals and opportunities. We don’t like saying no. A lot of the reason for our growth has been because of that.”

In some ways, building a major production facility was a leap of faith, but it was a necessary next step, according to O’Keefe.

“We’re really excited about it, because we cannot make enough beer,” he said. “We’ve had to cut our orders to our distributors. We’ve been making about 4,000 barrels at Sandy Springs and contracting about an additional 4,000 barrels.”

Currently, Pontoon’s four year-round core brands are New Wave blonde ale, One Ski IPA, Crushing Waves cherry-pineapple sour and Aquatronic juicy double IPA.

“One Ski is our most popular,” O’Keefe said. “It’s growing quickly, and it’s in every Publix in the state of Georgia. It’s a very approachable, easy-drinking American IPA. At $9.99 a six-pack, it’s hard to pass up.”


Pontoon’s Tucker Taproom Grand Opening

Noon-10 p.m. Nov. 19 with special beer releases, live music, local food, commemorative glassware, and merchandise. 4720 Stone Drive, Suite A, Tucker. pontoonbrewing.com/tucker-the-lodge.html.

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