Thursday, September 5, 2013

Burnt Hickory Brewery {On Tap}

Mmm, beer...
In an uncertain (if still burgeoning) beer scene, a number of new-ish Georgia breweries seem to be after the average drinker, offering sessionable craft versions of classic ales and lagers that have the potential to leave the average beer geek a bit... bored.

And then there's Burnt Hickory Brewery

Keeping true to their past...
In keeping with his punk-rock roots, Hedeen maintains a high-level of irreverence for the "establishment." He remains unconcerned with what's already been done, and the result is a consistent outpouring of remarkably balanced, unique, and delicious beer that aims for the possible, rather than the predictable.

Ladies first, you say? Well, if you insist.
It's a little hole-in-the-wall, homebrew-esque, nano-brewery just off the somewhat rickety heart of downtown Kennesaw, not far from where I reside. With a brewery-owner and head-brewer whose personalities are as big as their beers (and maybe just as unfiltered), the beer here can be relied on for being deceptively easy to drink, high in alcohol, and (with some exceptions) also difficult to find.

With a setup that many experienced home-brewers will find familiar (think corny kegs, 40 gallon mash tun, and a coiled wort chiller aided by generous amounts of rock salt) they're essentially a small-batch brewing setup on steroids. Like any other small business, it's a lot of work. Banking 90+ hours a week combined, the owner Scott Hedeen and his trusty sidekick Will (the head brewer) rely on a regular influx of devoted and passionate paying customers and volunteers to keep their operation up and running.

Described by one very enthusiastic fan as "the bacon of Georgia's vegetarian beer," Burnt Hickory's followers are pretty happily carnivorous (or at least pleasantly theatrical) come tasting days. OK, maybe that's just this guy (see video pictured at right). But even this reaction may be tame. Long before I had close friends there, I was head over heels with the beer myself.

The beers are part punk rock, part southern-gentleman. They'll gladly knock you on your ass and have you coming back for more.

Kegerators, corny kegs, and
Corossion of Conformity,
oh my.
The gift of the present...
On a typical tour & tasting day, onlookers are invited to look around the confines of their existing brew-space, ask questions of their tour-guide (who may or may not give an expletive-laden, but well rehearsed, overview of the brewing process), and share in some very special, and deceptively smooth, limited seasonal beers like Noggin Knocker, an Imperial Milk Stout spiced to resemble egg-nog, and Corrosion of Conformity, an Imperial Rum Raisin Porter weighing in at 8.5% ABV (of which only 60 bottles were made).

Aside from a few chairs and a scattering of empty wooden barrels which serve as tables, the would-be warehouse/tasting room is left mostly empty to make space for the line of drinkers which inevitably forms (and seems to get longer, but more efficient, each month). And at $10 a pop, with a complimentary tasting glass, five free 4 oz. pours, and a lineup of specially brewed experimental kegs pouring throughout the afternoon, it's no surprise that BHB is packed at their monthly open house.

You'll likely see some old-school vinyl tacked to the wall, get to listen to a few dudes strumming and singing in the background, and end up talking to strangers who will likely become fast friends. You'll end up in search of some good eats too, which you can find just a short distance away in the nearby parking lot, or down the street. The newly opened BurgerFi, the reliably tasty Trackside Grill (which often has BHB beers on tap, and half-price pours on Tuesdays), and the pizza joint Pisanos, (they also typically have a good selection of craft beers on draft) are all good options and within walking distance in nice weather. 

Eyes to the horizon, young lads and ladies...
Teetering on the verge of a major expansion which will take them from four, 90 gallon fermenters to five, 1300 gallon fermenters, Burnt Hickory is poised to increase their production more than ten-fold, positioning them to dominate the Georgia craft beer scene, or at the very least, expand their distribution to neglected areas of the state. If the already growing fan-base--a community of quirky, assertive, intelligent, and interesting consumers--is any reflection of the character of their beer, world domination may not be far behind.

Show me a box of wet hops in the morning
and I'm a happy girl.
In the works for October is a West Coast IPA, brewed using the still intact, resinous lupulin glands of wet hops picked fresh and shipped directly thereafter from Yakima, Washington's own HopUnion. Perks of being a brewer's bestie? Abso-friggin-lutely I will swing by with my camera to take pics of your gorgeous hop box. I might have written this article just so I could put in that line right there. Just maybe.

It's been almost a year since my husband and I discovered this little gem around the corner from our home. To us, it's not just about good beer. It's about evolution. It's about hope. Hope that our little suburban island of bumper-to-bumper school buses and rush hour traffic outside the perimeter will become something more like a real college town where people leave their homes to inhabit a common space, converse over common ground, and fill their bellies with a little happiness in a glass.

Is it merely the effect of alcohol and a predisposition to wax nostalgic on all things? Maybe. But Burnt Hickory is indubitably good beer and good people. Go get it.

See you there.

{On Tap} is a series of that highlights the people and places that make Hey, Brewtiful possible, probable, and purposeful. It's about personal connection, community, and real-world contacts that keep our glass full. Do you know us? Would you like to? Email heybrewtiful{at} for more information.   


  1. Wonderful post! So great to put a face with a name that weekend. Cheers!



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