First Look: Hippin Hops Brewery in East Atlanta pairs beer, seafood

Hippin Hops Brewery opened last week in the former East Lake Pharmacy building on Glenwood Avenue in East Atlanta.

Husband and wife Clarence and Donnica Boston are the hardworking owners of the cozy brewpub, where Clarence brews on a three-barrel system tucked behind the bar, and Donnica cooks in the compact kitchen in back.

ExploreMore first looks at metro Atlanta restaurants

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

The long, narrow space is arranged with a mix of tables, and there are picnic tables out front. Another outdoor area is fenced in and set up for cornhole.

“We used a contractor, but we kind of did it ourselves,” Clarence said.

“But we kind of stay in our lanes,” Donnica added. “He does the build-out and I pick the colors.”

ExploreIntown Atlanta dining news

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

The menu reflects Donnica’s Baton Rouge, Louisiana, roots, with raw and baked oysters, shrimp and grits, shrimp, oyster and alligator po’boys, and smaller bites such as Cajun shrimp deviled eggs. There’s also a lobster roll, which Donnica said came from a trip the couple took to Boston with their children.

ExploreMetro Atlanta restaurant openings

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

“It is a Louisiana-inspired menu,” she said. “I love Cajun food, and all kinds of oysters and shellfish are big in Louisiana. That’s what I grew up on. And then beer just goes great with oysters, Clarence says. We didn’t want to do the traditional beer food like pretzels and pizza. We wanted people to come in and say, ‘I’m not a beer drinker but I heard your food is awesome.’”

ExploreMetro Atlanta beer and cocktail news

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

Of course, beer is a major part of the concept. During my visit to Hippin Hops last week, there was a very solid IPA dubbed Baby Mama Drama on tap, along with a hazy tropical IPA, a sour beer called Sourdeville, and Liar Liar, an excellent oyster stout brewed with oysters in the boil.

ExploreA list of more than 300 Black-owned metro Atlanta restaurants, food businesses

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

Not content to open just one Hippin Hops at a time, the entrepreneurial Bostons have two more in the works, with another brewpub at the Hosea and 2nd development on Hosea L. Williams Drive, and a production brewery with a taproom on Memorial Drive in Stone Mountain.

“The concept here, of course, is an oyster bar,” Clarence said. “The focus at Hosea will be brewing and distilling, and a menu with cheesesteaks. The Stone Mountain location is where we’ll do our production, and the menu will be soul food.”

ExploreMAP: Breweries, brewpubs to try in metro Atlanta

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

The Bostons started out in the funeral home business, and own other bars and restaurants in North Carolina. But Atlanta is the main focus, right now, and they recently bought a townhouse in Kirkwood.

“I’m very hands on,” Clarence said. “You’ll see me here shucking oysters, greeting people, brewing beer, cleaning the toilets, taking out the trash. I always tell all of our employees, you all don’t work for me, you all work with me. And I think they respect the level of work ethic that I have. I’ve very down to earth, and I think that comes from growing up extremely poor.”

“I think it’s more than that,” Donnica said. “Because in every business we’ve opened, that’s what we’ve done. We’ve always set the example for our employees. Most of the time here, I’m in the kitchen from the time it opens to the time it closes.”

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

Historically, Hippin Hops is among the first Black-owned brick-and-mortar breweries in Georgia. And that’s something Clarence and Donnica Boston were surprised and pleased to find out.

“Moving back here, we didn’t know that there was even a need,” Clarence said. “We thought there were several other Black-owned breweries, and that just wasn’t the case. But I’m so glad we could do this. Our other bars and restaurants are more focused on liquor sales. Making beer is a whole different thing.”

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

DINING OUT

5- 11 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays; noon-11 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays.

Raw oysters, $2.25-$3.25 each; baked oysters, $16.99; shrimp and grits, $16.99; lobster roll, $22.99; lobster and waffles, $24.99; po’boys, $15.99-$16.99; appetizers, $13.99-$14.99; sides, $5.99.

Indoor and outdoor dining with social distancing; staff wears masks.

1308 Glenwood Ave. SE, Atlanta. 678-713-2739, hippinhopsbrewery.com

Read more stories like this by liking Atlanta Restaurant Scene on Facebook, following @ATLDiningNews on Twitter and @ajcdining on Instagram.