The owners of Phantom Horse Brewing in Rock Spring are busy whipping up batches of homemade beer in preparation for the business's big opening day, Monday, June 13.
The new brewery is a side project of Pie Slingers co-owner Skip Welsh and two of his buddies: Jason Randles and Jared Willerson.
"My brewing journey started two years ago when [my wife] Jennifer for Father's Day bought me a malt extract kit," said Welsh, who also co-owns Pie Slingers with wife Jennifer McSpadden Welsh. "I brewed my first beer in September of 2014. Then, I kinda got obsessed. I brewed 50 batches over a year's time."
With his customers responding well to his home-brews, he said, he decided to make the concoctions an official menu item. The beers will be served in either mugs for on-site consumption, or crowlers — a 32-ounce can that is similar to the glass growlers typically used — and taken to go.
The brewery area sits at the back of Pie Slingers. A patio out back will serve as a beer garden with a fire pit and corn hole boards.
"We will have 10 different beers on tap," Skip Welsh said. "We have a mug club where you buy a membership for a mug, a T-shirt and one free beer a month and special invites for new tappings. The mugs stay on the wall and are numbered. You use the mug while here."
Willerson added that the brewery will have special events to keep customers engaged.
"We would like to start an education program where we educate people how to brew beer at home," he said. "We want to be the local beer guys."
Welsh said he travels to the "great beer states" of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa. The brew pubs in those states have a family atmosphere with activities for adults and children, he said, and he wants to have a similar atmosphere at Pie Slingers.
"We want people to learn about different beers and understand craft beer," said Welsh, noting that there's not another brewery in Northwest Georgia. "The closest brewery is in Kennesaw. We want to change the culture and make craft beer cool in Northwest Georgia."
Pie Slingers will begin to use the new craft beers in a beer cheese dip and a spicy brown Dijon-style mustard.
"Most of our beers are named after [Chickamauga Battlefield] legends," said Willerson. "We have the Lady in White Pale Ale about the lady looking for her lost love in the park. Ole Green Eyes IPA is about the 'Green Eyes' legend in the park. We have the 1891 Oatmeal Cream Stout that commemorates the incorporation of Chickamauga. Muzzletoff Cocked Ale is a big beer with high alcohol content. A lot of people used rifles in the battlefield."
Both he and Welsh said they prefer their Ole Green Eyes IPA the most of all their brews. Other beers are the Carpet Bagger Red Ale and Haybaler Kolsch, and an apple ale and a chocolate milk stout that have yet to be named.
Welsh said there will also always be a guest brew on tap because the brewers plan to learn together.
"We will offer local home-brewers a larger platform for what they brew," he said. "We will let them come in and brew. All they need is a recipe. Ryan DelPiano will brew an IPA called Space Boots IPA. It's his personal recipe. I have two other brewers."
He said Phantom Horse Brewery's one-barrel brew system utilizes two Bright tanks and three one-barrel fermenters.
"We want to be the best craft brewery around," said Willerson.
While beer dates back 12,000 years, Welsh said, the brewery's opening date coincides with "the first time someone decided barley, hops and water make beer," setting a standard still maintained today.
"This is the 500th anniversary of the German [beer] purity law Reinheitsgebot," said Welsh. "That dates back to 1516."