Griffin may seem an unlikely place for an authentic English-style brewery. But the Eagle and Lion is the rare vision of owner/brewer Mark Broe, a man on a mission to make cask-conditioned “real ale” readily available, mainly because it’s what he likes to drink.
Broe, whose family lived in Riverdale for 30 years, fell in love with cask ale while working as a chiropractor in England. In fact, he loved it so much, he decided to ditch his chiropractor job and become a brewer, training at Brewlab at the University of Sunderland before working several years at the Grand Union Brewery in London.
“The difficulty of getting really good real ale made me decide to become a brewer,” Broe said. “And I was very fortunate to get a job right out of brewing school.”
After coming back to Georgia to be closer to his aging parents, Broe worked at Atlanta Brewing Co., while struggling to find the right place to finally brew his own beer.
Griffin wasn’t first on the list. But with his parents living at nearby Sun City Peachtree, Broe discovered a commercial space in the old brick Coca-Cola building on East Taylor Street.
The renovated pub includes an eight-barrel brewery imported from England, a bar with six beer engines, where hand-pulled, cask-conditioned ales are served in 20-ounce pints and a kitchen that fixes the likes of fish and chips and bangers and mash.
Still, when the Eagle and Lion opened in mid-March, Broe had to wonder if anyone in Griffin would share his passion for the kind of naturally carbonated, lower alcohol beers that he describes as “something magical, even transcendental.”
“It was a gamble,” Broe admitted. “But it seems to have paid off because people are drinking my beer. On opening day, I was delighted to hear people say that the beer was really good. The reception has been great since. People have even said they like the stout better than Guinness.”
Broe’s ales are virtually handmade, using labor-intensive methods and simple equipment with very few bells and whistles. With names like Tipsy Toad and Brass Monkey, most are faithful renditions of the main categories of the English bitter style — mild, ordinary bitter, best bitter, special bitter and extra special bitter.
There’s also Yes Face IPA and East Griffin Stout. Just don’t expect anything too hoppy or much above 5 percent alcohol.
“I have no interest in brewing imperial beer,” Broe said. “Everybody else is doing that. American IPA tends to be over the top. That’s not what I’m doing. I’m doing session ales.”
The Eagle and Lion does offer a variety of “guest” beers from other breweries, though. Recently, they included Southern Tier 2x IPA, Left Hand Sawtooth Ale and Founders Pale Ale on draft, and Victory Hop Wallop, Weyerbacher Hop Infusion and Wild Heaven Ode to Mercy in bottles.
Once he settles into a routine, Broe said he’ll be able to brew at least twice and maybe three times a week, ultimately producing over 1,000 barrels of cask-conditioned ale a year. And what he doesn’t sell at the pub, he plans to offer to beer bars through a distributor.
“I had to make this kind of beer,” Broe said. “But I also need to make the business a success. I didn’t go through all the trouble of learning to brew in England to find myself back in the same situation, relying on someone else to provide the kind of beer I want. I need to do it for myself.”
The Eagle and Lion, 414 East Taylor Street, Griffin, 678-408-0308, griffinbrewpub.com
By Bob Townsend, AJC Drink blog