Beer Town: Halfway Crooks Beer celebrates all the way

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

During the month of May, Halfway Crooks Beer co-founders Shawn Bainbridge and Joran Van Ginderachter are celebrating both the opening of the newly renovated HC Biergarten and Czech Beer Days.

Among the beers on tap, you’ll find Var, a Czech-style Pilsner, served both filtered and unfiltered; Mavy, a dark Czech-style lager; 10° P Černé Pivo, a Czech-style black lager; and Deset, a Czech-style lager.

“Var was the first Czech-style beer brewed on our pilot system, Bainbridge remembered. “We lagered it for a really long time and it was ridiculously good.”

Though Bainbridge grew up in Georgia, and Van Ginderachter grew up and brewed in Belgium, the experience of brewing Var led them to dig deeper into Czech culture, and bring a bit of it to Atlanta.

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Beyond recreating Czech styles, that meant procuring the proper glassware and Lukr side pull faucets, and teaching the servers how to pour the beer in three different ways — with smooth, crisp, and milk levels of foam.

“If you go to a Czech bar and the beer sucks, it’s not the brewer’s fault, it’s the bartender’s fault,” Bainbridge said, as Van Ginderachter laughed and nodded.

Another important part of the celebration is Support for Ukraine, a fundraising event on May 20th and 28th, with live music and Ukrainian art for sale.

“The Czechs have been very vocal and supportive of Ukraine so we figured this would be a great way to help that organization,” Bainbridge said. “This year, Czech Beer Days is more about Ukraine than the Czech Republic.”

As a way to help keep going during the pandemic, Halfway Crooks first opened the beer garden in May of 2021, in a parking lot across from the brewery.

“There were three trees over there, and we decided to throw mulch down and put some tables out, and suddenly it was a beer garden,” Bainbridge said.

Credit: Shawn Bainbridge

Credit: Shawn Bainbridge

Circa 2023, the beer garden is a permanent fixture, enclosed by shipping containers, and featuring food, art, covered seating areas, and a small arched amphitheater.

“It was inspired by European beer gardens, and some of them are built out of shipping containers there, too,” Van Ginderachter said. “The original bar container is still there, but now we have a walk-in cooler in a container, and container bathrooms onsite.”

Coming soon, look for a container food truck serving smash burgers and fries, a Halfway Crooks merchandise table inside a container, and an outdoor LED flat-screen TV for soccer and other events.

Right now, the beer garden is open Fridays-Sundays, and available for rent for private events during the week.

“I think it’s a beautiful location,” Van Ginderachter said. “Almost all day, you are in the shade, under the trees. It’s very park-like.”

Asked about the overall trajectory of the brewery, Van Ginderachter noted that in July it will be four years since Halfway Crooks first opened.

“I think everybody can agree that the last couple of years have been weird for everybody,” he said. “But we’re doing our best, we’re trying to grow, and thankfully we have a lot of great people working for us.”

60 Georgia Ave. SE, Atlanta. 678-705-5530,