Blackbird Farms Brewery is open in Lilburn

Matt Williams is the owner and brewmaster at Blackbird Farms Brewery in Lilburn. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Matt Williams is the owner and brewmaster at Blackbird Farms Brewery in Lilburn. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Blackbird Farms Brewery recently opened on a busy stretch of Lawrenceville Highway in Lilburn. Owner Matt Williams is a longtime Atlanta brewer, brewery consultant and beverage professional.

Located in a small, freestanding brick building, the taproom and visible brewery tanks clearly are not anywhere near a farm, but Williams, who lives close by, explained that the name is aspirational.

“It’s not a farm, yet, but we think that’s coming,” he said. “We’d like to have a farm location up in North Georgia somewhere, either on a small scale like this, or a full production facility. But, the market will tell us if that’s appropriate, or not.”

Meanwhile, Williams plans a beer garden, as well as a space for live music. And, there will be food trucks, once the city amends its code.

The brewery runs on a five-barrel system, which Williams thinks is the ideal size for an “own-premise” brewery — especially since, for the foreseeable future, he’ll be the only one brewing and running the business.

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The taproom at Blackbird Farms Brewery in Lilburn features rustic farmhouse decor. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The taproom at Blackbird Farms Brewery in Lilburn features rustic farmhouse decor. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

“Right now, I only need to brew once a week for a day-and-a-half, and then I can spend the rest of the time up front in the taproom,” he said.

Though his first brewing job in Georgia was at the now-defunct Dogwood Brewing Co. in Atlanta, Williams got his start at a brewpub in his home state of Wisconsin.

“I learned how to brew there, and I learned the nuts and bolts of running a small brewery,” he said.

After spending the past few years as a consultant for other small breweries, Williams finally decided it was time to open one of his own.

“Doing consulting allowed me to see the revenue, so we built this brewery based on the revenue, not ‘I want a shiny brewhouse, and then let’s figure out how to sell it,’” he said. “We built it smaller on purpose, but we spent money where we needed to. And, we saved a lot on the brew system, because I knew ways to get around that.”

Another major asset for a small brewery like Blackbird Farms is the surrounding community, Williams said.

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“We live a few minutes from here, and we knew all these neighborhoods around here,” he said. “All the investors are friends and local people, too, so it’s like we’re inviting them over for a beer.”

Last week, Williams took me through a tasting of several of the beers on the menu at Blackbird Farms, including Yellow River Wheat, Part Time Genius Hazy IPA, and a lovely amber lager, called Georgia Airport Beer, that’s made with 100% Vienna malt.

I really liked an unusual pale ale, called Farmish. It’s dry-hopped with German Hallertau, which gives it a surprisingly earthy note. But, my favorite was Trophy Husband, a big, dark imperial stout brewed with rich English malts, including flaked barley.

“Style-wise, we’re going to do everything,” Williams said. “We’ll have sours, New England and hazy IPAs, and everything else. I brewed for other people for a long time, and I’m excited to get all these beers that I created over the years in one place. That’s going to be a lot of fun for me, because, really, it’s all about the beer.”

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