Beer Town: Hip-hop stars Nappy Roots have their own Atlanta brewery

Atlantucky Brewing founders Skinny Deville (left) and Fish Scales are members of the hip-hop group Nappy Roots. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Atlantucky Brewing founders Skinny Deville (left) and Fish Scales are members of the hip-hop group Nappy Roots. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Skinny Deville and Fish Scales are among the coolest brewers you could meet.

The duo are founding members of the Southern hip-hop group Nappy Roots. And, after years of touring and collaborating with breweries across the country, they have a place of their own.

Atlantucky Brewing is located in the former Loft at Castleberry Hill event space on Northside Drive. The 6,000-square-foot facility includes a one-barrel brewhouse and a sprawling, multi-level taproom, with two bars, a lounge and a catering kitchen for hosting pop-ups. The walls are lined with local art, and, of course, there’s a stage for live music.

The name Atlantucky is a nod to the Nappy Roots’ history. The members, also including Ron Clutch and B. Stille, met in the mid-’90s as students at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. Later, Atlanta became their headquarters.

“We’ve been home-brewing for the past five years,” DeVille said before the grand opening, earlier this month. “Locally, we’ve done collaborations with Monday Night, Scofflaw, Cherry Street and Arches. And, we’ve done collaborations with breweries like Dancing Gnome in Pittsburgh; Woodland Empire in Boise, Idaho; Full Circle in Fresno, California; and Avondale in Birmingham, Alabama.”

Atlantucky Brewing supplies draft beer for the taproom, but it also serves as a research and development facility for designing new beers.

The company is working on a deal with Georgia Crown Distributors. And, along with a contract brewing arrangement with Ironshield Brewing in Lawrenceville, packaged Atlantucky beer will be coming to the Atlanta market in the near future, DeVille said.

Like many performing artists, Nappy Roots stayed off the road during the pandemic. But, that allowed Deville and Scales more time to make beer, and finally open a brewery.

“This space kind of just flopped down in our laps,” Deville said. “That would have never happened if we were on tour.”

Scales holds the title of brewer at Atlantucky, though Deville does a lot of work around the brewhouse and taproom.

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Brewer Fish Scales pours a beer at Atlantucky Brewing. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Brewer Fish Scales pours a beer at Atlantucky Brewing. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Combined ShapeCaption
Brewer Fish Scales pours a beer at Atlantucky Brewing. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

“It’s a privilege to be called a brewer,” Scales said, but “every beer I’ve made, Skinny has been right there, so it’s a two-man team.”

Fans might be surprised, but Deville and Scales said that many people in the Atlanta beer community have no idea they’re famous rappers.

“We’ve made a lot of beer friends in the last few years who don’t really know about our Nappy Roots side, but I think that’s cool,” Scales said. “This is a long time coming. It’s a dream. And it’s emotional, man. This is something we found that we could transition to, so we’re very fortunate.”

As for the future of Nappy Roots, Scales said they’re back to touring again, though it will be a bit different going forward.

“We’ll probably never tour like we used to, by choice,” he said. “We’re older now. We’re 40-some-year-old rappers, man. We love touring. We still love making music as Nappy Roots, but we feel we can do it a little different now. Less shows, but, more important, better shows and venues, and making beer on our off time.”

When I visited Atlantucky, there were four beers on tap. Mile High P.A., a classic, nicely balanced pale ale, was my favorite. But, Hapeville Hefe hefeweizen, Atlantucky Mudstrong stout, and Not Just NE IPA were all solid, too.

170 Northside Drive SW, Atlanta. 678-765-2630, atlantucky.com.

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