The article was originally featured in Online Athens, written by Chris Starrs. You can read the original article here.
Although Athentic Brewing Company will officially open Saturday with curbside pickup service featuring four editions of its frothy products, the company is already part of the fabric of Athens’ ever-growing beer purveyors.
Mark Johnson, who with Paul Skinner is the co-founder and co-owner of Athentic Brewing, said earlier this week that the Classic City’s newest beermaker has been welcomed by its fellow brewers.
“The brewing community is more of a family than a bunch of competitors,” said Johnson, who pointed out that Akademia Brewing, Normaltown Brewing and Creature Comforts Brewing have all been helpful in seeing Athentic get off to a strong start.
“In the brewing community, the other brewers don’t see us as competition – they see us as another friend,” added Christa Rampley, the taproom manager for Athentic, which is located in Normaltown just off Prince Avenue on Park Avenue (formerly the offices of Physicians Back & Neck Clinic).
Johnson and Skinner, who by day work in the veterinary biologics industry at Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, have been plotting their path into the beer biz for five years, beginning with homebrewing more than a decade ago.
“Paul started homebrewing in 2011 and I joined him in 2012,” said Johnson. “We started doing some competitions and had some pretty good success through the years in competitions and we also did free events where we’d do a pot luck with our friends and they’d bring a dish and we’d supply the beer and some pulled pork or chicken…We had a couple of events each year and we were getting somewhere between 90 and 200 people at these events.
“After having some success in some competitions, people said you guys ought to do this. That’s when we really started considering brewing beer for a living, or at least as a second career.”
Athentic’s still-under-construction facility includes a tap room (which will remain closed until pandemic recommendations suggest otherwise) with an impressive self-pour tap wall, a stage for live music presentations and no less than eight rest rooms. The building also has a sizeable patio, which Kimberly Wise, Athentic’s marketing and event coordinator, said would hopefully be opened in mid-July.
Selections that will be available — in 22-ounce “bombers” — during Saturday’s curbside pickup include a pale ale (known as Sister), an American wheat (Sunshine), a saison (Amour de Ferme) and a coffee brown ale (Perfect Number). Wise said that following soon after will be single and double IPAs and “crowd favorites from the homebrew days” like Rapid Recovery, a blonde ale brewed with kudzu flower.
Wise said that the company, which was incorporated in 2015 and spent several years seeking a lot on which to land, already feels at home in Normaltown.
“It’s an awesome location to be at because the Normaltown area is so close-knit and easily walkable, and you’ve got neighborhoods right here so you can just walk right up,” she said. “We’re really hoping to be part of the community in this area and we’re really happy to be at this location because it allows us to do more of our community-centered goals.”
And while some might despair over starting a new business during a pandemic, Johnson said the timing has appeared to work out in Athentic’s favor.
“To be honest, we were probably lucky we weren’t open when the pandemic struck, simply because we wouldn’t have been open for very long and we would have incurred a bunch of additional expenses and had our full staff hired,” he said. “So not having to do that allowed us probably a slightly easier time surviving these last few months of the pandemic. We’re still in a pandemic, but I think it softened the blow a little bit and actually gave us a little bit of a respite from trying to hurry and get open because we knew at that point we weren’t allowed to be open.
“So we have been working on getting all the things done we needed to get done, getting all of our ducks in a row and we’ll continue to get this thing built out and get it done and let the pandemic progress and we’ll come out of it when things start to ease up. We do have that benefit of seeing other (breweries) reopen and see what they’re doing. We get the benefit of seeing everybody else go first.”