Atlanta’s newest brewpub, the Wrecking Bar, is set to open in Little Five Points on June 19.
Owners Bob and Kristine Sandage bought the turn-of-the century mansion that was formerly home to the Wrecking Bar Architectural Antiques store and lovingly restored it to create an events space and bar/restaurant with an onsite brewery in the basement.
Chris Terenzi, a well-known figure in the Atlanta homebrewing and craft-brewing community, is the brewmaster, returning from a stint in the IT world to get back to the business of mash tuns, brew kettles and rubber boots.
“Even though I was disconnected from brewing for a while, I was still thinking about making beer,” Terenzi said. “I’d be sitting in my cubicle or I’d be at a meeting and I’d be sketching out a recipe for a new IPA in the margins.”
I caught up with Terenzi at the Wrecking Bar last week, where he was putting the finishing touches on the seven-barrel brewing system he’ll be using to turn out a wide variety of beers for the taps and beer engines in the brewpub.
He began homebrewing 20 years ago, owned a homebrew shop in Smyrna, worked as an assistant brewer at Max Lager’s in Atlanta and served as the brewmaster at US Border Brewery Cantina in Alpharetta, where he was known for his Belgian-style and hoppy American ales.
Terenzi said his approach has always been rooted in the independent spirit of small-scale brewing. His vision for the Wrecking Bar is “a place that’s a little more visceral and beer-centric than the average brewpub.”
Said Terenzi, “I spent my college years going to indie rock shows. I think craft brewing has a lot in common with the punk rock DIY ethos. Obviously, we have this great building and environment. But if we were in a strip mall, nothing would change. We want to take the concept of this artisan product and carry it through to the bar and restaurant.”
Look for four new Terenzi recipes when the Wrecking Bar opens: Golden Nelson, a refreshing golden ale flavored with fruity Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand; Belgina, a cloudy Belgian wheat beer with orange peel, coriander and a Trappist ale yeast; Red Monkey, a malt-forward amber IPA with toffee flavors balanced by plenty of hops, and Jemmy Bar, a chewy, dark-roasted and somewhat hoppy American-style stout.
Those will be followed by a West Coast-style IPA and a Belgian dubbel, Terenzi said. Eventually, he plans to have up to 12 different beers on tap and several more on cask at any given time, including some experimental smoked, wood-aged and sour styles.
“You don’t have to evangelize pale ale anymore,” Terenzi said. “Everybody knows what a pale ale is. West Coast IPA isn’t foreign to people anymore. That wasn’t the market I was in when I started.
“My hope is that one day there won’t be industrial beer versus craft beer anymore. In the past, it was all called beer. In the future, if we do our work, all this distinction is going to go away and it will just be beer again.”
The Wrecking Bar, 292 Moreland Avenue NE,
— By Bob Townsend, AJC Drink blog