Akademia teams up with Athentic to release Bold-Faced Rye roggenbier

Night Owls visiting Akademia Brewing Company recently probably noticed a new collaboration beer on the menu.

Bold-Faced Rye roggenbier won the 2017 Athens Homebrew Classic, and as part of the prize package, its brewers got to make and sell it at the brewpub. In a fortuitous occurrence, Bold-Faced Rye will be the first beer to enter market from upcoming Athens brewery Athentic Brewing Company.

“It was really exciting how Southern Brewing Company gave us an opportunity, before we were able to open up our own facility, to come in and get a little bit of production brewing experience under our belt,” said Morgan Wireman, Akademia co-founder and head brewer. “The original plan wasn’t originally to provide that for Athentic — it was supposed to be the competition winner of the Homebrew Classic — but it turned out to be a lucky turn of events that they just happen to end up winning and are now opening a brewery.”

Paul Skinner and Mark Johnson, co-founders of Athentic, were surprised that Bold-Faced Rye took home the top prize.

“It was a complex brewing process because we were doing some decoction brewing, which means we were pulling off some of the wort from the mash and further boiling it and condensing it down and caramelizing those sugars, then adding them back into the mash tun and pushing them through,” Skinner said. “Once you go past that 20 percent threshold with rye beer it’s a booger because [rye] doesn’t have a husk. So it kind of turns into gelatinous material. It’s a little hard to get through — it can stick your sparge in your mash tun. Even when we brewed with Morgan here, I think we four or five times had to stop and unplug the mash.”

Bold-Faced Rye also uses a versatile yeast that has a lot to do with the end result of the beer’s flavor. If it’s brewed cooler, as Athentic did, the notes have more clove; warmer, it has more of a bubblegum sweetness, Skinner said.

“Rye has sort of a characteristic [spiciness] to it. It’s like, kind of a pumpernickel bread,” Skinner said. “I get a little residual sweetness on the front end and then a dry finish. I think for people who just want to try something totally different to their palate, they would be interested in this.”

Wireman and Aaron Martin, Akademia’s beer consumption coordinator, enjoyed working with Athentic, and have high hopes for Bold-Faced Rye.

“I’m really excited to see them doing a style that so far has been underserved,” Martin said. “We’ve had rye beers in Athens, obviously with Creature and Terrapin both famous examples, but the actual roggenbier is something that I haven’t seen coming out of Athens ever before. It was cool to help them out with a style that should be something new for most people in town.”

Authentically Athens

Skinner started brewing in 2011 as part of a church group. As group members moved on to other hobbies, brewing stuck with him and got Johnson addicted. The two knew each other from their day jobs working at Boehringer Ingelheim.

They attended the first Athens Homebrew Classic event in 2015, and during the next two years entered both the Beer Judge Certification Program and five-gallon competitions.

“To win best in show our competition has a couple of rounds. The first round, the beer is going to be facing off against a flight of similar style beers,” said David Ducrest, organizer for the Athens Homebrew Classic. “Judges will sample beers, award points and typically the ones ranked the highest will be considered in a little mini-count. Those might be re-sampled and awarded first, second, third in that category.”

First-place beers then face off against each other.

“It becomes a bit of a debate between the different, really skilled judges about, is that stout a better stout than that English bitter is an English bitter,” Ducrest said.

Homebrewing meant that Skinner and Johnson also had a lot of beer laying around for their friends to enjoy, so they began hosting tasting events as the Kudzu Brewing Company.

“Eventually it became a very strong passion for us, enough that we were very interested to start a business and could envision ourselves doing something in the craft beer industry,” he said.

As business plans became more serious, they realized that another brewery already had Kudzu copyrighted.

“We quickly went back to the drawing board and started brainstorming a ton of new names,” Skinner said. “We created our own word, essentially, by combining ‘authentic’ and ‘Athens’ and it fit the way we brewed.”

Basic brewing done well

Johnson said Athentic’s recipe’s aren’t trying to out-hop or out-bitter anyone, and it’s a goal of theirs to create beers that are unique enough to win competitions, but still be accessible to the average craft beer drinker.

“A lot of our beers are meant to be more on the side of easy-drinking,” Skinner said. “We’ve gone all over the spectrum, but it’s coming back to good ingredients, fresh ingredients. Trying different things and experimenting, and finding that tradeoff that is crafty and different, but also just a very drinkable beer.”

Next up for Athentic is opening the brewery itself. The expected debut date will be sometime this fall, and the anticipated location will be in downtown Athens. Skinner said Athentic will be more along the lines of a brewery than an Akademia-style brewpub.

He’s most excited to release Sister Goldenhair, a refreshing, hoppy pale ale, and his sour, fruity golsch. Johnson already has a following for Flower Power Blonde — the secret floral ingredient he wouldn’t reveal! — and his amber.

When it comes to opening a brewery, timing is the biggest hurdle, the two said.

“Everything takes longer than you think it’s going to take,” Johnson said. “That’s the biggest lesson. You think it’s going to take a week and it’s going to be at least three.”

Johnson and Skinner credit Brian Roth and Mark Mooney at Southern Brewing Company, Morgan Wireman at Akademia and the owners of Grumpy Old Men Brewing in Blue Ridge, Georgia, as their biggest role models in the business.

“Everywhere we go and we talk to brewers, whether it’s brewpubs or breweries, they’re all willing to share information,” Johnson said. “[Grumpy Old Men], those guys really I think were two that I look to because they’re older than we are and they decided to do this as a second act, and they made it happen.”

That’s a big goal for Athentic.

“We’re mid-50s, and this made us just a little bit different,” Skinner said. “We just want to represent that all groups and all ages and all backgrounds can get into this business and have a good time.”

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!

Photos | Noctua’s First Flight

More than 200 of Akademia’s closest supporters — friends, family and industry colleagues — came to celebrate the first-ever night of service during a private event on Oct. 10.

19 Crimes wine sponsored the evening, and live music was provided by local vocalist Tre Powell. Beers on tap included The Dom, Extra Credit, Akademos Attica, Morai and IQ IPA, and diners could chose from a selection of items from our menu. The top hits were The Dom, a kölsch-style ale, and Extra Credit, our version of ESB.

Co-owners Matt Casey and Morgan Wireman, brewmaster, thanked supporters and acknowledged the journey it took to see their vision finally come to life.

“It was elation and relief, like someone just pulled a half-keg of beer off my chest,” Casey said.

Photos from the event:

“As I stood on the precipice of the monumental occasion that is the launching of multiple men’s hopes and dreams, I was overwhelmed with the sheer pulchritude of an environment filled with friends and family, enjoying our beer and our food.”
— Beer Consumption Coordinator Aaron Martin


Welcome, Night Owls!

Akademia Brewing Company will finally, finally, open its doors on Monday, Oct. 16! We are super excited about joining the Athens community as its newest brewpub, serving up fresh food and beer on tap for both lunch and dinner, seven days a week.

You may have been following our progress for a while, but just in case, here’s a little of our backstory. Owners Matt Casey and Morgan Wireman (who we like to call our brewmaster) met several years ago through homebrewing. At the time, Matt already had it in his mind that he wanted to open a brewery of some sort, and combining his business acumen with Morgan’s brewing prowess, a partnership of Titan-ic proportions was born.

Akademia went through a few iterations before the final concept was settled on. One you may recognize is Big Springs Brewing, a concept originated by Morgan and a good friend.

Morgan and his friend started homebrewing together about 10 years ago and fell in love with craft beer after a trip to Cologne, Germany (our kolsch-style ale came from this trip). Their beer started winning awards, so they started designing a brewery for Oconee County. That’s where the name Big Springs Brewing came from, named after the original moniker for the city of Watkinsville. Unfortunately, Oconee County wasn’t the most alcohol-friendly area in which to develop a brewery, so the two started looking at Athens instead.

The friend chose to pursue a different career path, and a week later Morgan met Matt, who walked into a local homebrew shop with an idea for a brewpub — and no knowledge of how to brew beer. They hit it off, Morgan taught Matt the tricks of the trade and together, the new duo began making strides toward turning Big Springs Brewing from a concept to a real-life brewpub.

Fear of potential future trademark disputes necessitated a new name. Matt and Morgan brainstormed new concepts, and the idea for Akademia was born.

Now that we’re dedicated to the pursuit of higher-gravity education, however, you can rest assured that we aren’t going anywhere. There’s something to be said for a “victory lap” of classes, right?

Just like your professors handed you syllabi when you stepped into your first day of class, we’re going to give you a breakdown of what you can expect from us now, and what we hope to bring you the further along we go.

Our beers are bold, flavorful and a little something different than what you may be accustomed to. We want to provide high-quality beer to tantalize your taste buds. Some styles will be familiar — think IPAs, the kolsch-style ale, sessions and saisons — but others could be your first foray into that particular pint, like our ESB, tart brett saison or tripel, or a return to a style you haven’t had since your 21st birthday.

Our food is taste-tested and brewer-approved, featuring seasonal ingredients from local producers as often as possible. We have protein and veggie options for all palates, whether you’re a staunch Night Owl or just a Young Philosopher.

Akademia is a local, family-owned business and we make it our goal to work with other Georgia and Southern companies as often as possible: aging beer in a barrel from one of our state’s distilleries, using a crowler machine manufactured across the street from the brewpub, decorating our building with murals and woodworks from area artisans.

We are a place for you to call home, whether you’re here for four years, a dedicated “townie” or just visiting for one of those legendary Saturdays in Athens. We’re a place to bring your clients for a working lunch; a pint to gather your friends around after the workday is done; a family-friendly locale outside the hustle and bustle of downtown, but still in the heart of Bulldog Country.

As often as possible, Akademia Brewing will not only just serve you beer and food, but we’ll help you craft an appreciation for it. We plan to launch a loyalty program for our most ardent Night Owls, and we’ll bring you plenty of gear and swag to sport around town. Our event space, which won’t be quite ready opening night, will soon be a place for you to bring your student organization, business or family function. And as we continue to get our feet securely under us, Akademia will start off some “irregular, regular” traditions — new one-off brews, house beers and seasonal releases. We’ll also put together our canning line, but in the meantime, you can enjoy your favorite drafts here, via keg or crowler.

Night Owls, your patience will be rewarded as we wind down construction and gear up production. We’re hop-ping up and down with excitement, and hope y’all are, too. We hope to see you here Oct. 16!

Rebranding the Springs…

We are excited to announce our name change, and share with our friends the images we intend to use to launch a brewpub in Athens GA. Our project is starting to take off, so keep an eye out over the coming weeks for updates and further details on the inspiration behind the Name / Logos.