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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Beer Town: Atlanta mirrors craft beer boom

Recently, the Colorado-based Brewers Association released data on U.S. craft brewing that tracked a 14 percent increase in dollar sales and a 12 percent jump in volume in the first half of 2012.

What’s more, the total U.S. brewery count now stands at 2,126 — the highest number of breweries in business since the late 1800s.

The Brewers Association also tracks breweries in planning and lists 1,252 breweries on the drawing board now, compared to 725 a year ago.

That kind of growth and excitement certainly has been mirrored around metro Atlanta, with three new breweries — Red Hare in Marietta, Burnt Hickory in Kennesaw and Strawn in Fairburn — opening in 2011-2012.

Three more breweries — Monday Night in Atlanta, Three Taverns in Decatur and Wild Heaven in Avondale Estates — are on track to start making beer in 2013.

Monday Night, which debuted as a contract beer company in 2011, has announced plans for a new Westside brewery on Trabert Avenue that will include a large tasting room and outdoor space.

“Over the next four to six months, we will be building out a 20,000-square-foot building adjacent to the water works, installing equipment already on order, including our 30-barrel brewhouse, and prepping for our brick-and-mortar launch,” said Monday Night’s marketing director, Jonathan Baker. “We’re busy and excited.”

Three Taverns, a brewery that’s been in the planning stages for more than four years, just leased a building on New Street in Decatur, where construction of a 30-barrel brewery is set to begin by the end of the year.

“We raised 135 percent of the money we needed to open the brewery,” Three Taverns founder Brian Purcell said. “I think that says something about the industry, and I’d like to think it says something about the strength of our business plan.
“We expect to be in the market with our beer by May of next year and maybe sooner.”

Wild Heaven, which began contract brewing in 2010 and signed a lease on a building on Maple Street in Avondale Estates in 2011, has been working on funding.

“We’re approaching completion of our fundraising to begin the construction of our brewery,” Wild Heaven President Nick Purdy said. “We’re hoping to be open by next summer. In the meantime, we’re adding additional production capacity at Lazy Magnolia in Mississippi to keep up with demand.”

Red Hare, which has seen steady sales growth over the past year, reached a couple of milestones recently: celebrating its one-year anniversary, and firing up Georgia’s first craft beer canning line.

Look for the brewery’s Long Day Lager, in distinctive black and red cans, available at metro beverage and beer stores, and there are plans to can Gangway IPA soon.

“From the time we started, we talked about doing cans, rather than bottles,” Red Hare brewer Bobby Thomas said. “Cans actually get recycled, so that was a big thing. The other big factor was that we like to do things like go to the beach and the lake. I can’t wait until we’re drinking our beer in a can out on the golf course.”

— By Bob Townsend, AJC Drink blog

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