Beer Town: Checking out Dr. Scofflaw’s with its chief brewing officer

Scofflaw Brewing co-founder and chief brewing officer Travis Herman, shown with a quart growler, is in the taproom at the new Dr. Scofflaw’s Laboratory and Beer Garden, which is dedicated to experimentation. Bob Townsend for The AJC
Scofflaw Brewing co-founder and chief brewing officer Travis Herman, shown with a quart growler, is in the taproom at the new Dr. Scofflaw’s Laboratory and Beer Garden, which is dedicated to experimentation. Bob Townsend for The AJC

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Some four years after co-founders Matt Shirah and Travis Herman opened Scofflaw Brewing, Basement IPA is still its flagship beer. But the company continues to evolve and expand in multiple directions.

Scofflaw co-founder and chief brewing officer Travis Herman shows off the to-go window at the new Dr. Scofflaw’s at the Works. Bob Townsend for The AJC
Scofflaw co-founder and chief brewing officer Travis Herman shows off the to-go window at the new Dr. Scofflaw’s at the Works. Bob Townsend for The AJC

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Recently, I took a tour of the 9,000-square-foot-plus, indoor-outdoor Dr. Scofflaw’s with Herman, who explained that the name is a tribute to his mad scientist alter ego.

Standing in front of a mural of the comic book-style character, I could see the resemblance.

“The Dr. Scofflaw character has been out about three years, now,” Herman said. “It started with cutouts and this just felt like a natural progression. The very first one was me in a white apothecary jacket with my hair all teased out and crazy welding goggles. We’ve done three or four renditions of that and a couple of beer labels.”

Far from mad, Herman is a real scientist, with a degree in chemistry and microbiology. He worked in pharmaceuticals doing commercial fermentations, before earning a brewing science degree at the University of California. He also spent time at two of California’s most esteemed breweries, Lost Abbey and Russian River, before moving to Atlanta and partnering with Shirah.

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The name of Dr. Scofflaw’s Laboratory and Beer Garden is a tribute to the mad scientist alter ego of Scofflaw co-founder and chief brewing officer Travis Herman. Bob Townsend for The AJC
The name of Dr. Scofflaw’s Laboratory and Beer Garden is a tribute to the mad scientist alter ego of Scofflaw co-founder and chief brewing officer Travis Herman. Bob Townsend for The AJC

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Dr. Scofflaw’s is dedicated to experimentation. With more than 70 taps, and a sophisticated seven-barrel brewhouse, Herman and his crew can conjure a steady stream of one-off beers and get immediate feedback from visitors. And it may serve to tweak and improve core beers, too.

“It has all the bells and whistles, and it’s very similar to the 15-barrel system, with options for decoction, step-mashing, and a chilled whirlpool,” he said. "But we got so busy and so big so fast at Scofflaw, I never really got to use them. Now this place is going to be my playground. I expect it to be a lot of small-batch stuff, a lot of R&D stuff, and barrel-aged stuff. I have a lot of things I want to try.”

While at Dr. Scofflaw’s, I sampled Pacific Gravity, a lovely beer described as an “old school West Coast IPA brewed and dry hopped with Centennial, Chinook, Cascade.” A fairly big fruited sour, Isle of Guava, was a smooth surprise from the experimental side.

Walking around the grounds, which includes a covered patio, a takeout window, and an area for live music, Herman reflected on what it took to get to this point.

“Let’s be real. When you start a brewery, it’s all about the beer,” he said. "The ambiance comes in later on, after you have a following and money. This is our attempt at nice. But it’s still got enough of our style that it’s still Scofflaw.

“I’m really excited. I can’t wait to get it into full swing and really start turning out some of those things that people are like, ‘How did you do that?’ And I guess that’s things that haven’t even been invented, yet.”

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