Beer Town: Go beyond beer at Wild Heaven with Georgia cider and wine

Wild Heaven Beer’s two taproom locations feature wines from Georgia's Wolf Mountain and Kaya vineyards. Courtesy of Nick Purdy

Credit: Nick Purdy

Combined ShapeCaption
Wild Heaven Beer’s two taproom locations feature wines from Georgia's Wolf Mountain and Kaya vineyards. Courtesy of Nick Purdy

Credit: Nick Purdy

Credit: Nick Purdy

Like many breweries, Atlanta’s Wild Heaven has broadened its beverage offerings beyond beer. Now, in addition to hard seltzer, you’ll find house-made hard cider, as well as wines from a pair of Georgia farm wineries.

Wild Heaven brewer Eric Johnson has made small batches of cider over the years, but recently he jumped into a bigger project with help from an orchard in Blue Ridge.

“Mercier Orchards pressed a variety of apples into a tote and I brought them straight back here, put them into a fermenter, and added Côte des Blancs yeast,” Johnson said.

Dubbed a French-style, dry hard cider, you’ll find it on draft at the Wild Heaven taprooms in Avondale Estates and West End.

Credit: Greta Biesel

Credit: Greta Biesel

I’m not much of a cider drinker, but I found it refreshing, and not too sweet, with a pleasantly fresh apple aroma and flavor.

“I am excited about working with ciders, using wild yeast, barrel aging, single varietals and microflora,” Johnson said. “But where we go with cider from here will be driven by demand.”

Over the years, Wild Heaven has made a rotating seasonal beer series in collaboration with the Atlanta Botanical Garden, called Garden Beer. This year, there also will be a holiday spiced cider, dubbed Garden Cheer.

Wild Heaven President Nick Purdy has been the driving force behind adding more diverse offerings to the taproom menus.

“We are into hospitality,” Purdy said. “We’re probably past the novelty era of breweries. For me, it’s incumbent to think about how we can make this a fun, relaxing, open place for everyone that’s much less formal than going to a bar or a restaurant. That’s the impetus to diversify the beverage offerings.”

For the wine program, Wild Heaven ended up working with Kaya and Wolf Mountain, both of which are in the Dahlonega Plateau wine region.

“Honestly, we were pleasantly surprised to find out how good Georgia wine was at this point,” Purdy said. “We were able to meet the requirements to get a farm winery permit. And I think, at some point in the future, we’ll do some agriculture, or maybe have wines that (are) Wild Heaven-branded.”

For now, though, Purdy is excited to support other Georgia farm wineries, and show off what they’re doing.

Among the wines you’ll find on the current list are Wolf Mountain Plenitude, a steel-fermented blend of chardonnay and viognier, with notes of citrus and guava; and Kaya Trifecta, a complex red blend of cabernet sauvignon, malbec and merlot that features a mix of dark fruit aromas and flavors.

“We’re really proud of the wines we’re offering, and it’s a deeper list than you would expect,” Purdy said. “We have nine different wines, including white, rosé, sparkling and red. And we’ve had a lot of great feedback. But what’s exciting about both the cider and the wine programs is that, in both cases, we’re working with Georgia companies.”

Wild Heaven Beer. 135B Maple St., Avondale Estates. 404-997-8589; 1010 White St. SW, Atlanta. 404-254-2232,

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