Chamblee’s Hopstix Asian Brewpub marks 5 years

Hopstix brewer Justin Ramirez (left) and owner Andy Tan are selecting some barrel-aged beers for the 5th anniversary celebration.
Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Hopstix brewer Justin Ramirez (left) and owner Andy Tan are selecting some barrel-aged beers for the 5th anniversary celebration. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

One of the most unique destinations in metro Atlanta, Hopstix Asian Brewpub offers a wide range of starters and entrees, along with multiple robata grill and raw bar items, all meant to pair with beer.

Owner Andy Tan grew up in Indonesia in a family that founded the first seafood company and restaurant in Medan. Tan came to Atlanta in 1997 and later graduated from Georgia State University.

He opened Hopstix in Chamblee in 2017, and in March 2022, he debuted Lady Ha Vietnamese Kitchen on the Beltline, next to Ponce De Leon Avenue.

Recently, I caught up with Tan and brewer Justin Ramirez, who previously was the head brewer at Arches Brewing in Hapeville. With help from Ramirez, Tan has some ambitious plans for expanding Hopstix.

“Being the Asian brewpub, food-wise we’re starting to play with more Southeast Asian flavors,” Tan said. “Being from Indonesia myself and my wife being from Thailand, that makes sense. And, of course, our No. 1 selling beer is Rice & Shine, a rice lager brewed with house-steamed jasmine rice.”

Andy Tan (left) and Justin Ramirez collaborated on the design for the new Hopstix logo.
Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

icon to expand image

Credit: Bob Townsend

Before opening Hopstix, Tan was a talented homebrewer who developed some of his Hopstix recipes after joining Atlanta’s Covert Hops Society homebrewing club.

“That hobby turned into a passion,” he said. “When I was doing group brews with Covert Hops, I would bring Asian food. And over the years, that’s how this vision of an Asian brewpub grew. I wanted to bring something unique to the craft scene. And, humbly I say, it’s turned out to be a very successful concept.”

Currently, Ramirez is brewing on the Frankenstein 3-barrel system that’s been reworked and reorganized a number of times since Hopstix opened. The newest addition is a pair of 10-barrel unitanks that do double duty for fermentation and conditioning.

Right now, the order of business is the brewpub’s fifth anniversary celebration on June 18. Ramirez is finishing a batch of Rice & Shine that will be canned and labeled to sell at the celebration.

“There’s not really any distribution for our packaged products,” Ramirez said. “The margins are better if we sell it here. But there might be a little bit in the future. I designed the Rice & Shine label with the intention of getting it approved so we could send it anywhere.”

Ramirez also has been tweaking the recipes for Hopstix staples, such as Hooligans ESB, while brewing many of his own beers.

“About half of the beers I’ve done since I’ve been here have been my recipes,” he said. “The Keris Czech dark lager was the first one I did. The Sin Falta Mexican lager is another one. That’s brewed with Oaxacan green corn, which is part of the kinds of weird things I like to do, along with Chinese black rice and smoked orange wood. That’s what keeps it fun.”

Tucked into a corner of the brewhouse, Hopstix has a small barrel-aged program, mostly using casks from Atlanta’s ASW Distillery.

“Those were all COVID-aged,” Tan quipped, pointing to a stacked rack of barrels. “We did our Seven Seas Foreign extra stout and our American Dream porter in bourbon barrels.”

Tan and Ramirez agree the brewpub is an ongoing collaborative process, and that extends to many parts of the business. For several weeks, they reworked the Hopstix logo, which is now on the wall the near the front bar. The concise graphic design features a hop cone intersected by a pair of chopsticks, and the timestamp, “Est. 2017.”

“Overall, I wanted to connect people through food and beer,” Tan said. “I came from a very diverse country, so I want to continue to walk people through that journey. Our motto is, ‘Brewing flavors and cultures.’ That’s where we are and what we’re going for.”

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