Akademia Welcomes New Brewpub Consultant

Meet the newest member of Akademia Brewing Company’s circle — Eric Jackson.

If you follow the Georgia beer scene, Jackson’s face is probably familiar. He’s the man behind craft beer blog Uncap Everything, and he’s joining Akademia as its brewpub consultant.

“[Akademia owner and co-founder] Matt Casey has been a great supporter of Uncap Everything and has opened his brewery to my passion for learning about beer. When you’re pursuing something in a new industry and you have someone like [Casey], who is extremely smart and ambitious about the industry, his support is important,” Jackson said.

Jackson was introduced to Akademia shortly before it opened in October 2017. He was one of the first writers to cover the brewpub, and has since attended its events in both Athens and Atlanta, plus reviewed some of its beers for the blog. His favorite Akademia brew is The Dom kölsch-style ale, and he’s partial to the beer-battered Fish ‘N’ Chips on the brewpub menu.

“I’d also recommend the hand-cut fries with any of the Ale Sauces, my favorite being the Ale Cheese,” he said. “If I had my way, there’d be a flight board of Ale Sauces.”

When Jackson isn’t uncapping the latest brews for the blog, he’s working full-time in the restaurant and hospitality industry, most recently with Marriott International, the Ritz-Carlton at Lake Oconee and W Hotels. His expertise with guest engagement and luxury service will add to and further energize Akademia’s culture and identity.

“I’m most excited about creating an elevated beer experience for the guest,” Jackson said. “If you think about hospitality, it’s about engaging with guests and creating an atmosphere that is comfortable and fulfilling. The same is with beer. I find a lot of similarities in their foundations and purpose.”

He looks forward to meeting many of Akademia’s Night Owls while partnering with the brewpub, and hopes some of his Uncap Everything friends take the time to jaunt to the Classic City for a visit.

“I think Akademia is a place to learn, and the variety of beer that’s served tells that story. You have your classics like the kölsch, ESB, gose and tripels, but also brew hazy IPAs, DIPAs and variations on stouts and sours. There’s something for everyone,” Jackson said.

Akademia to Release First Crowlers in Fructuosum Fruited Series

Akademia Brewing Company introduced its Fructuosum series of fruited sour beers just after Athens Beer Week this year. This Saturday, the brewpub will release not only a new beer to the series, but take-home crowlers of select Fructuosum beers for the first time.

Niobe’s Tears fruited with raspberries and key lime makes its debut at noon. This beautiful pink pour has a bright, fruity nose and a tart finish – but the lemony characteristics of the base gose still shine through. It will be available on draft and in a limited number of crowlers.

Everything He Touches tart brett saison with raspberries and cranberries returns on Saturday as well in crowlers only. There will also be a new draft-only Fructuosum series beer — Snow Day Haze amber kettle sour with plum.

Aaron Martin, beer consumption coordinator for Akademia Brewing Company, advised Night Owls to bring a cooler and plenty of ice to keep their crowlers cold on the way home. Adding the fresh fruit purees means the beer can undergo secondary fermentation if it gets too warm, which could potentially lead to a quite actual “juice bomb.”

The brewpub sources its purees from a company that’s been around for more than 80 years, and has plans in place for myriad upcoming Fructuosum flavors. Some will be released at the brewpub only, and some may be done in larger batches available wherever you want to find #ABCintheWild. Thus far, Akademia released Fructuosum series Niobe’s Tears with passionfruit, pineapple, blackberry-blueberry blend, mango and passionfruit blend, sweet and tart cherry blend and pink guava, and Everything He Touches in a three-berry blend and a cranberry-raspberry blend.

Fruited beers have been around “since pretty much the dawn of beer,” Martin said, but thanks to German purity laws and market forces, many fruited styles were not as popular. The Belgian lambic is one well-known fruited style, but it’s been more recent that the craft beer community began experimenting with fruit. Akademia calls its series “Fructuosum” after the Latin word for “fruited.”

“The rise of craft beer in the States was built more on the traditional British and German styles, with the Belgian traditions mostly being represented by abbey styles rather than lambic styles,” Martin said. “The current push of heavily fruited sours is in a lot of ways the spiritual successor more to lambics than say, a shandy or a witbier.”

Fruit can be added at any point in the brewing process, and comes in a number of forms: fresh fruit, extracts and syrups, for starters.

“Akademia follows a relatively unique method of post-fermentation fruit additions, which allows for the most retention of the essence of the fruit,” Martin said. “Right now we have committed to releasing Niobe’s Tears gose and Everything He Touches tart brett saison, on fruit, but we are definitely playing around with other options. We don’t believe in limiting ourselves by saying something like, ‘pink guava is for the summer’ … so while the pace we release fruited sours might slow down as the temperatures dip, I doubt we will see them disappear entirely any time soon.”

RSVP to the release! 

Resettling the West: New Festival Highlights Akademia’s Side of Athens

Businesses and nonprofits are gearing up for the first-ever West Fest, a combination community and business expo.

Akademia will have a tent at West Fest, and visitors will be able to dart next door to the brewpub for festival goers-only specials. Night Owls will also be some of the first to sign up for Akademia’s new loyalty program.

“I think the West Fest is a great idea to get people out there and bring some visibility to businesses,” said Lindsay Brannen of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce.

Inspired by other area business groups and the 100-Mile Yard Sale, which draws thousands each fall to a giant yard sale that stretches from Unadilla to Quitman, Georgia, the West Fest will be part rummage sale, part nonprofit expo, part business spotlight and full-on community fun.

“We’re looking at bouncy houses … we’re going to be doing Touch-A-Truck. We’ve got a fire truck and police truck, a tractor or two,” said Denise Ricks, Athens West member and coordinator for West Fest. “We’re looking at hopefully getting five or six food trucks. It is all on the focus of ‘meet your neighborhood businesses.’”

Resettling the west

West Fest is the first step in a coordinated attempt to bring more visibility to this area of Athens. Right now, the west corridor is “not a huge hub of growth” for the Chamber, but Brannen wants it to be.

“It’s a great location right off the Loop,” she said. “At one point the mall was the anchor to why that was such a great location. I think it will be what revitalizes it as well, hopefully in the near future. It’s a lot of property, a big ol’ chunk of land that could draw tourism dollars and the rest of [the west side] would just explode.”

Ricks said in the 1990s, when Georgia Square Mall first opened, it drew many Downtown businesses to the west corridor — and now that there is a new shopping plaza on the Oconee Connector, it’s the west side dynamic that’s changing.

“I just started talking to businesses about getting together. We got together about four years ago and we started meeting on a monthly basis,” Ricks said. “My goal is to have this become the cool side of town.”

Ricks said the group hopes to see a flyover from Epps Bridge to Atlanta Highway — right now, the way the roads are planned, motorists can only go directly from Epps Bridge toward downtown on Atlanta Highway. There’s an extra turn or two off Epps to get to take a left, out toward Akademia. They would also like to develop a west side park.

“There’s potential for even more because there’s so much space,” said Aimee Cheek of the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s a good blend of residential and commercial.”

That space on the west side was perfect for Akademia. Co-founders Matt Casey and Morgan Wireman found the former Musician’s Warehouse building had the size, parking, outdoor space and adaptability to meet their needs.

“As we took a closer look at the west side, it became more attractive due to the limited number of restaurants and dense residential housing,” Casey said. “I believe the economic importance of this area is undergoing a transformation. First of all, it is the largest and longest main corridor leading into Downtown, and one that for years has greeted all visitors from Atlanta and the South. With the growth of Epps Bridge, this area appears to be taking on more of an industrial identity rather that the predominantly retail identity it held for years.”

The west corridor, which stretches down Atlanta Highway out past Downtown and also includes the Timothy Road area, is home to a plethora of businesses and fun spots that don’t always get the same visibility as the Downtown and UGA areas of Athens.

“As our department has grown over the years, we’ve been able to focus on new and various parts of Athens that we haven’t previously been able to, and so we are excited for what the west side has to offer,” Cheek said. “I think the space on the west side allows for a large tourism attraction project. I don’t know what that looks like, but I know there’s physically space for it, whether that is an existing building that may come into disuse later on.”

Cheek said more than $292 million is spent in direct domestic tourism — including food, transportation, lodging, retail and recreation — in Athens-Clarke County, according to numbers from 2016. Casey believes Akademia brought more people out this way since it opened in October, and said he believes the economic impact of the brewpub has yet to be fully achieved.

Stopping the rumor mill

Much of the focus on what will happen to the west side has been on Akademia’s next-door neighbor, Georgia Square Mall. Rumors abound as to what will happen to the massive retail space, an anchor tenant in this area of town.

Monica Hawkins, marketing director and specialty leasing manager of Georgia Square Mall, said there’s nothing they can do about rumors except stand firm that the mall isn’t going anywhere — its owners are figuring out the best way it can serve shoppers’ needs and remain a fixture in the community given the new ways people shop.

“When I was coming up, [the mall] was the center of entertainment. That was the hanging out spot. You wanted to go to the mall whether that was to grab a bite to eat at the food court or go window shopping,” Hawkins said. “Malls are now going through a phase of repurposing. The shopping patterns and trends are changing, so I think too, the mall experience is changing as well.”

Georgia Square Mall has been part of the Athens West group for a couple of years, and Hawkins said when the idea of West Fest was brought up, she immediately volunteered the mall as a place to host it.

“This would be a great way for businesses to come together and say ‘hey, we need to support each other. We need to make sure that we’re being great neighbors,’” Hawkins said. “I think everyone that’s a member of Athens West Corridor is taking great pride in this event. We’re psyched. I think the West Fest is the first step in a long line of different things that are going to be coming from the group, but also from the businesses.”

Athens West Fest
Saturday, June 2
Georgia Square Mall
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
More details

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring; Don’t Let Your Rain Barrel Be Boring

With as much as rain as Athens has had in the past few days, there couldn’t be a more perfect opportunity for Athenians to get their hands on one-of-a-kind, handpainted rain barrels, all while drinking their favorite beer from Akademia Brewing Company.

The brewpub is proud to host the eighth annual Roll Out the Barrels event on May 24, featuring a silent auction of barrels decorated by local artists, light bites and live music.

“Each year, we auction off around 20 beautiful barrels, and we have raised over $10,000 in total for the ACC Green School Program,” said Cecile Riker, program education specialist with the Athens-Clarke County Stormwater Management Program. “[Green Schools] is designed to assist schools with environmental education and improvement efforts that focus on conservation, preservation and beautification of our environment.”

ACC Green Schools recognizes schools for their efforts in those ventures and offers mini grants to teachers who want to implement conservation and sustainability projects.

This year, 42 artists submitted designs for consideration and 19 were selected.

“Some of them are full-time professional artists, some are students and some are just people who just love to paint — and each barrel has a personality of its own,” Riker said. “There will be clipboards located near each barrel for you to write down your contact information and a bid amount.”

ACC Stormwater will also provide complimentary appetizers, while they last, to Night Owls while they peruse the barrels and place their bids from 6 to 8. Live music will begin at 7 from the Hot Fire String Band.

“If you are a lucky winner, you will be able to pay for your barrel with cash, check or credit card and then take the barrel home that evening. They will fit in the backseat of most sedans,” Riker said.

For barrel winners who cannot stay until the auction closes, their prizes will be transported back to the ACC Stormwater office on West Dougherty Street for later pick-up.

Rain barrels help Athens area homeowners conserve water, since they can pull water directly from the barrel to water their lawns, and prevent stormwater runoff.

“If someone is catching water from their roof in a rain barrel, that means there is less water running off of their property and entering into the city’s stormwater drainage system. The less runoff, the better. This runoff picks up harmful pollutants such as oil, fertilizers, litter, pet waste or anything else that may be lying in the road or on your lawn,” Riker said. “Runoff carries these pollutants into our stormwater system and then gets dumped out into a water source without any treatment. The more water that we capture before it becomes runoff, the less polluted water will end up in our streams.”

Riker said the most efficient way to use rain barrels is to hook them up to a gutter and have water from the roof run off directly into the barrel. For renters, she advises checking with a landlord before doing so.

“In those cases, if you have a porch or outdoor area, you can put a rain barrel there without hooking it up to anything. It will still catch rainwater, just not as fast,” Riker said. “These painted barrels in particular make lovely porch or lawn art.”

The brewpub will be open for regular dinner service during this event. Please feel free to peruse the barrels and enjoy the complimentary appetizers after being seated for your meal!

Celebrating Athens’ Art Community

Athens Area Arts Council turns 20 this year, and the organization is celebrating Thursday at Akademia Brewing Company!

The event is the first of its kind for this membership group, which curates community-based art projects, provides art-inspired education and helps establish fiscal sponsorships for local artists and art nonprofits.

“It’s a really awesome group of people that are all volunteers, and everything we do goes right back into the community,” said Jeanne Watley, the new Arts Council president. “The goal is to integrate artistic resources of the Athens area into our educational system, local economy and the community’s culture.”

The Arts Council birthday bash at Akademia features a stacked silent auction, opportunities to chat with artist members and, starting at 7, live music from local bands White Rabbit Collective and The Pierres. The event is also a percentage night — a portion of food and beverage proceeds collected from 5 to 11 p.m. will go back to the Arts Council.

“Everyone that we’ve talked to about this event has been so supportive of this event and that’s nice. We’re happy to hear that our whole idea of this event is to help each other out and give exposure to these businesses,” Watley said.

So far, the list of silent auction items includes donations from Ben’s Bikes, Color of Heat, The Very Good Puzzle Company, South Kitchen + Bar, Viva! Argentine Cuisine, Revival Yarns, photographer Frances Berry, 5 Points Yoga, Avid Bookshop, Shakti Power Yoga, Strength & Strike Fitness, FIVE Athens, Sangha Yoga Studio, Olive Basket, Canopy Studio, M30 Yoga, Verdae, Fitness @ Five, Marti’s at Midday, artist Tatiana Veneruso, Dynamite, JCG Apparel, R.E.M., Fleet Feet Sports, Rook & Pawn, Wuxtry Records, Tazikis, The Mayflower, Steel + Plank, Shiraz, The National, Pixel & Ink, KA Artist Shop, Treehouse Kid & Craft and Elite Pet Sitting.

“What a better way to invite the public [to] see what we do and stick around and have dinner, have some beer and get some cool stuff in the auction,” Watley said.

They hope to turn the birthday celebration into an annual event, and Watley said members are excited to see what the next 20 years hold.

“Our most recent project was the Art Deck-o Project,” Watley said. “We commissioned nine artists to do four-by-eight panels, big wooden panels, that are going to be hung in the Clayton Street parking garage on all the different levels. The idea of that is putting art in unexpected places, which I think is a really fun idea.”

Art Deck-o was a perfect project for this year, because it was early on in the group’s history that it first put art in the deck. The Arts Council also organized artists to paint water hydrants downtown, and regularly hosts an art exhibition and competition for schools.

“All the money we raise is going straight back into our projects. No one’s paid, everything stays in our organization and goes to make Athens a better place, in my humble opinion,” Watley said.

Celebrate 2018 at Akademia!

2017 was an unforgettable year for the team at Akademia Brewing Company.

For starters, we opened a brewpub! We brought y’all 21 beers in just a few short months. Our top five beers, according to Untappd review averages, were Noctua, Noctua Chaos, Paraskevidekatriaphobia, Accidental Tripel and Hoppy Ki-Yay Mr. Falcon. Have no fear if you don’t see your favorite on that list though, they are all our favorites — so no matter your choice, you aren’t alone.

But we couldn’t let the year end without bringing out one more surprise, because sometimes a single IPA just isn’t enough. Our final beer of 2017 is High IQ DIPA, on tap starting at 11 a.m. New Year’s Eve. This double IPA takes everything y’all enjoy about IQ IPA and makes, well, more of it.

With our double, we turned everything up to 11 (although the ABV only clocks in at 7.7 percent — a not too incredibly modest increase over the 6 percent base IQ model). Along with this ABV increase, we have an increase in just about everything: more malts, more hops, more bitter, more in-your-face. Our tasting notes include flavors reminiscent of grapefruit, pineapple, lemongrass and a bit of cantaloupe.

High IQ’s introduction isn’t the only treat during the holiday weekend, however. Chef Nate put together a grilled salmon special with mashed potatoes and asparagus for a festive last meal of 2017. We’re keeping our doors open for a midnight toast to ring in 2018, and come back Monday to tap our first cask of the new year! We cold-brewed bourbon barrel-aged coffee and added the cold brew to a cask of our Noctua imperial stout. It’s the perfect breakfast drink after partying the night before. Owen Ogletree of Southern Brew News will be on-hand to liven up the festivities.

The kitchen will be serving up traditional New Year’s Day fare until 8 p.m. or sell-out on Jan. 1, and if there’s any salmon left over from New Year’s Eve, we may wind up giving y’all a chance to add some to your salads from the regular menu.

Akademia now has a projection screen just in front of the brewhouse where we will play big games when the occasion arises. On New Year’s Day, this clearly is reserved for the Rose Bowl. Dress in your Georgia best to cheer the Dawgs on as they battle Oklahoma for a spot in the National Championship!

Worth All the Salt in Niobe’s Tears

Goses are known for their inclusion of coriander and salt, so what better beer to name for the Greek myth about Queen Niobe?

It may be hard for a mother to choose her favorite child — or a brewer his favorite beer — but it’s easy for parents to prefer their children over others, even children of the Greek gods.

That’s the basis of this myth.

According to ancient tales, Niobe had 14 children, and one day questioned why they weren’t worshipped like the goddess Leto and her twins, Apollo and Artemis, were. Needless to say, that didn’t sit well with any of the three. Apollo, god of music and knowledge, and Artemis, goddess of the hunt, descended to the ancient city of Sipylus and killed Niobe’s children.

She was so devastated that she fled to Mount Sipylus in tears and was turned to stone after pleading with the gods for mercy.

Today, there’s the faint image of a woman carved into a limestone rock on Mount Sipylus that cries every year when the snow melts. It’s said this is the image of Niobe, and the melting snow her tears.

We won’t do what Niobe did and brag that any of our beers is better than that of another brewery (what would happen to Akademia if the brewers turned into stone?!), but we thought our gose was a worthy way of taking on this tale.

Niobe’s Tears has the core ingredients of a gose, featuring pink Himalayan sea salt, pale wheat and pilsner malts. It’s heavy on the salt and herbal characteristics, and is kettle soured for a lemony essence.

We may be a little biased, but this beer’s worth all the salt in our tears. Available now at the brewpub in snifters, half-pours and flights!

4.8% ABV / 5 IBU

Noctua Chaos: The First [Barrel-Aged Beer] to Exist

In Greek mythology, Chaos was the first thing to exist. In the lore of Akademia Brewing Company, it thus made sense for Noctua Chaos to be the name of our first-ever barrel-aged beer.

Noctua Chaos is what we call our signature imperial stout after we age it in a bourbon barrel. This batch, coming out on Oct. 25, spent eight months in a W.L. Weller Antique bourbon barrel, where it developed notes of chocolate-covered cherries that add an almost sinful quality to this deep, velvety smooth brew.

We’re tapping the keg at 11 a.m. sharp, just in time for lunch. Chef Nate Eve said he’d pair this with just about anything on the menu, but if you were inclined to further enhance the decadence of Chaos, he recommends the beer-braised pork chop or Beeramisu (don’t worry; no one’s judging you if you eat dessert for lunch).

Akademia owes a special thanks to Five Points Bottle Shop for this hand-picked single barrel. The Five Points crew drove up to the distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, to find the perfect bourbon to keep in the store, and this was the one they chose. W.L. Weller Special Reserve wheated bourbon whiskey substitutes wheat for rye grain, giving it softer flavor notes, and imparting some of those indulgent flavors reminiscent of butterscotch and caramel — along with an unmistakable bourbon nose — to Noctua Chaos.

Available at the bar in half-snifters and flight pours, while it lasts.

11.3% ABV / 80 IBU

Hoprodite NE IPA: Our Big, Juicy Thank-You

It takes a lot of love of craft beer to open a brewpub. In our case, it’s a big, juicy love — perfectly exemplified by Hoprodite.

Hoprodite is the latest IPA to come out of our brite tank, and we think it’s the perfect way to say “thank you” to the big, juicy love Athens and our Night Owls have shown us ever since the announcement came that Akademia was opening.

We appreciate the patience you’ve shown us as we train our staff and work through the growing pains of opening a brewpub. You know our story. You know how big a dream this was for our team and how long it took to get here. And your excitement never wavered. Over the past week, once our doors were open for pre-launch events, you came in droves. You opened crowlers of our first beer; you waited patiently for food and drink; you brought home T-shirts and hats with our logos. You celebrated with us and posted about us on social media. You brought your friends. You provided valuable feedback to make us better, and we are so grateful.

And so, today, we bring you this beer.

Hoprodite is but a token of our gratitude in return for the ardor you’ve shown us. We’re releasing it today behind the bar and in a limited run of crowlers — our 32-ounce cans, to-go — and cannot wait to hear what you think of our interpretation of this big, juicy love. This NE IPA is named after Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and features unmistakable, fragrant notes of grapefruit and orange. The ivory head is a perfect representation of the word “aphros,” which just so happens to mean “foam” in ancient Greek. Hoprodite pours a deep pineapple yellow, which is accented by an aroma of said fruit that comes from the combination of Mosaic, Loral and Ekuanot hops, 4.4 pounds of which are in each barrel of this luscious brew.

We hope you’ll join us starting at 11 a.m. today to get your crowler, pint, half-pour or flight pour of Hoprodite. They say it’s always 5:00 somewhere, but we think this would make a great beer no matter what time of day you came by to drink it.

6.6% ABV / 50 IBU

Crowlers: $16

At the bar: Available in pints, half-pours and as part of a flight.

Don’t Fear the Beer: Our First Release

It’s Friday the 13th — and Akademia Brewing Company is open for business.

We’re inviting you in with a limited release of a beer so frightful it’s delightful: Paraskevidekatriaphobia, a 13 percent ABV behemoth endorsed by Jason Voorhees himself.

The name may mean “fear of Friday the 13th,” but don’t be afraid of the wonderfully high ABV on this monster of an imperial stout. It’s intensely rich, brewed with a gratuitous amount of specialty malts and finished with an equally absurd amount of Condor Chocolates cocoa nibs. With a rich, chocolate-y body you practically have to chew through, the only question will be if there are any crowlers left to go.

Only a few of these 32-ounce containers will be available at the brewpub, but we’ll be pouring Paraskevidekatriaphobia until we close or the tap runs dry, whichever happens first. You’ll be able to get your hands on this beer starting at 11 a.m. on Oct. 13, and we’ll be open until 2-ish a.m. Oct. 14 with a limited menu and multiple beer styles.

We’ll see you shortly, #ABCNightOwls.

13% ABV / 60 IBU

Crowlers: $20

On tap: $7, half a snifter