Beer Town: Inner Voice Brewing set to open in Decatur

Brewers and owners Josh Johnson and Rhett Caseman are shown in the taproom at the new Inner Voice Brewing in Decatur. (Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Brewers and owners Josh Johnson and Rhett Caseman are shown in the taproom at the new Inner Voice Brewing in Decatur. (Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Brewers and business partners Rhett Caseman and Josh Johnson are set to debut Inner Voice Brewing in Decatur on Sept. 17.

It’s located in the former Big Tex space, just off West Ponce de Leon Avenue. Atlanta’s Local Architects took on the design project, creating a destination that’s open and airy, with floor-to-ceiling windows, a spacious bar, and indoor and outdoor seating.

In an interesting brewery and restaurant business arrangement, Glide Pizza will soon open an outpost in the kitchen at Inner Voice, complete with a signature takeout window.

Last week at the taproom, Caseman and Johnson explained that they first met on the job at Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta. Though Johnson left for a position at Heist Brewery in Charlotte, North Carolina, for a time, he returned to Monday Night, and eventually became head of research and development, while Caseman worked his way up to lead brewer.

But in 2017, soon after Georgia Senate Bill 85 was signed into law, allowing breweries and distilleries to sell directly to consumers, Caseman and Johnson decided it was time to pursue their dreams, and open an “own premise” brewery together. As a steppingstone, they left Monday Night, and took jobs at Variant Brewing in Roswell.

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“Rhett and I decided to leave at the same time, because suddenly it didn’t take this huge capital investment to start a brewery,” Johnson said. “While we were at Variant, we basically split one job, and the other half of our time we spent trying to find a place, and then get it up and running.”

“We signed our lease in January 2020, and that timing was definitely a big stumbling block,” Caseman said. “First-time business owners, and we’ve got our necks on the line in the midst of all that. But almost four years later, here we are now. I think our vision was always to be part of a community that was walkable, and would give us a better opportunity to express ourselves.”

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The taproom at Inner Voice Brewing in Decatur will open on Sept. 17. (Courtesy of Inner Voice Brewing)

Credit: Handout

The taproom at Inner Voice Brewing in Decatur will open on Sept. 17. (Courtesy of Inner Voice Brewing)

Credit: Handout

caption arrowCaption
The taproom at Inner Voice Brewing in Decatur will open on Sept. 17. (Courtesy of Inner Voice Brewing)

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

The custom two-vessel Deutsche Beverage seven-barrel brewhouse is located in the back of the building, and includes a 10-barrel, direct fire mash tun.

“It’s the first direct fire system we’ve ever worked on, but it’s kind of fun to see how different systems change the beers,” Johnson said. “And we’re liking the flavors that the direct fire is giving us, with a little more caramelization, depending on how long we boil.”

The day I visited, there were seven beers on tap. But at full capacity, the Inner Voice taproom will offer up to 12 different beers, all served unfiltered from horizontal tanks with bag liners, on view next to the bar. Most beers will be canned and available for sale at the brewery, as well.

Among the samples I tried, I was surprised by how much I liked a bright pale wheat beer called Sun Drop that was fermented with English yeast and rested on orange zest.

Though Caseman and Johnson claimed they were still dialing it in, I really liked the Quality Time Kölsch, brewed with floor-malted Pilsner malt, and Motueka hops, giving it zesty notes of citrus.

There are also a pale ale, an IPA, two double IPAs, and a decadent, 13%, double-mashed imperial stout, with vanilla beans, toasted coconut and toasted almonds, that’s surprisingly dry, and dangerously easy to drink.

Look for several lagers in the future, too. “We’re champing at the bit to brew some lagers,” Caseman said. “We just haven’t worked at a lot of places where we’ve had the opportunity to brew that style. But that’s a style Josh and I really like, and if we’re out, that’s what we typically drink.”

Finally, asked about the inspiration for Inner Voice, Caseman laughed and said, “It took us a really long time to find a name.”

It turns out, it was inspired by a long, slow jam called “Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts,” created by George Clinton and Funkadelic. The lyrics advise, “Listen to the inner voice. A higher wisdom is at work for you.”

“I think overall we’re pretty proud of how we’ve started,” Caseman said. “Everything’s gone pretty smoothly so far, and we’re both really excited to improve on that.”

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