Beer Town: Little Cottage joins the growing Avondale Estates beer scene

Tori Shari (from left), Aimee Shari and Jon Shari are the family behind Little Cottage Brewery in Avondale Estates. (Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Tori Shari (from left), Aimee Shari and Jon Shari are the family behind Little Cottage Brewery in Avondale Estates. (Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Little Cottage Brewery opened in Avondale Estates in mid-May, joining a growing beer scene that includes Wild Heaven and the Lost Druid, as well as beer-oriented spots such as the Beer Growler and My Parents’ Basement.

Adding to the area’s allure, earlier this year Avondale Estates was named the country’s best small-town beer scene by USA Today readers. What’s more, across Pine Street from Little Cottage, a new food hall, Olive & Pine, is scheduled to open early next year. And the Dale Ale Trail beer festival will return on Oct. 23.

Last week, I met up with brewer Jon Shari, who owns and operates Little Cottage with his business-minded wife, Aimee, and his daughter, Tori, whose sci-fi/Goth artwork is prominently displayed on the walls of the taproom.

The name of the brewery comes from the little cottage in Sandy Springs where Shari started off with a 7-gallon homebrew rig. Later on, with a bigger system, he became known for his barrel-aged beers, including a series of sought-after imperial stouts.

“I didn’t do much with competitions,” Shari said, “but there were people who kept asking for my beers, so I just kept brewing them and sending them out. And, of course, people want barrel-aged stuff even more.

“I really enjoyed the darker beers, because of the different things you could do with them. You can change the taste and complexity just by tweaking a couple of things. To me, that was very interesting, so over the years, I kept creating new recipes.”

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Brewer Jon Shari works the taps behind the bar at Little Cottage Brewery in Avondale Estates. (Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Bob Townsend

Brewer Jon Shari works the taps behind the bar at Little Cottage Brewery in Avondale Estates. (Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Bob Townsend

Combined ShapeCaption
Brewer Jon Shari works the taps behind the bar at Little Cottage Brewery in Avondale Estates. (Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Like many homebrewers, Shari dreamed about opening a brewery one day, but decided to go all-in after Georgia changed its laws to allow for on-premise sales. Still, debuting during a pandemic wasn’t easy.

“I was losing my job, and it was finally time to make that step or do something else,” he said. “My plan was to have a seven-barrel brewhouse, but I started looking at how I could cut costs, and I ended up with a three-and-a-half-barrel system. It is little, and sometimes I wish it was bigger, but it got me to where I am now, so, honestly, I would do it again.”

After researching other locations around metro Atlanta, Shari settled on a small storefront in Avondale Estates, mainly because the landlord, who also is building out Olive & Pine, was completing renovating the building and providing updated power and plumbing.

“The other thing I liked about Avondale is that it just feels like a small community, where everybody kind of knows everybody,” Shari said. “That’s something that doesn’t always happen anymore.”

Business over the past four months has been up and down, Shari noted. But with such a small brewery, he’s hoping to be making beer most days to keep the taps flowing.

“It’s all been interesting to watch,” he said. “But I think the fall is going to be even better, after talking with some other breweries, and what kinds of things they’ve seen seasonally.”

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Two Little Mice is the signature low-alcohol coffee milk stout at Little Cottage Brewery in Avondale Estates. (Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Bob Townsend

Two Little Mice is the signature low-alcohol coffee milk stout at Little Cottage Brewery in Avondale Estates. (Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Bob Townsend

Combined ShapeCaption
Two Little Mice is the signature low-alcohol coffee milk stout at Little Cottage Brewery in Avondale Estates. (Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Right now, Little Cottage is open Thursdays-Sundays. Most days, there’s a pop-up on the parking lot patio, with food vendors such as Smoke & Honey BBQ and Mascogo Tacos.

The day I visited, there were eight beers on tap. Beyond the Pale is a very fresh, citrusy pale ale with Centennial and Citra hops. Balthazar is a bright unfiltered Kölsch brewed with Pilsner malt and Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops. LCMPB is a malty ESB that was brewed for My Parents’ Basement’s Sixth Anniversary. Two Little Mice is a creamy, coffee-infused, nitro milk stout that’s surprisingly low in alcohol, at just 3.3%.

“I try to have something for everyone, so I do some New England or hazy IPAs, and we also try to provide a kettle sour option with fruit,” Shari said. “Then I try to do two or three more classic or traditional styles. The breweries that have gone before us that I admire — like Sierra Nevada with Pale Ale, or 3 Floyds with Zombie Dust — those guys are all inspirations in what I do now and try to achieve.”

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