Perhaps in honor of intown dads who enjoy beer and not just any ol’ bottle of Bud, the Wrecking Bar Brewpub will stage its grand opening on Sunday, which is Father’s Day.
Renovation of historic houses and the reward of a smooth and frosty beer go hand in hand for many of us. Maybe that’s why neighbors in and around Inman Park, Edgewood and Little Five Points have had a spirited interest in what’s been going on lately at the grand old mansion at 292 Moreland Ave.
What’s been going on is quite a lot, from purchase of the old graffiti-covered mansion on the south end of L5P (and the eastern edge of Inman Park) to lengthy permitting and liquor-licensing processes; from major repairs, restoration and remodeling (including the installation of a tavern, bar and kitchen — all in an atmospheric lower level), to paving and landscaping.
For many months now, workers have bustled about the property, preparing for Sunday’s opening. Local woodworkers have crafted booths, benches and the full bar out of rich pine, with a dark stain. With its thick walls of Stone Mountain granite, original brick floors in the old coal room (now the “Coal Room Lounge”), and other intriguing elements original to the mansion, the restaurant/bar itself boasts a rustic European feel.
There were also about 50 staffers to hire: most of whom got their jobs via Craigslist, including four key employees: the general manager, the assistant manager, the head chef, and his sous chef.
And then there’s the main attraction: the beer. The Wrecking Bar aims to pay homage to West Coast- and Begian-inspired American Craft beer. Four beers will make their official debut on Sunday. Ranging in price from $4.50 to $5.50 per glass, they are: Golden Nelson Ale; Red Monkey Amber IPA; Jemmy Stout; and Begina WIT.
The menu provides detailed descriptions of each, and also aims to educate customers on relevant terms such as firkin (when measuring beer and ale, a firkin equals 72 pints, or a quarter of a barrel). The Begina WIT, just for one example, is “a light, full-bodied wheat beer made with wheat, oats and barley and subtly spiced with Curacao orange peel and toasted Indian coriander.” Ideal, the menu notes, for summertime.
This whole new Wrecking Bar got rolling in the kitchens of Bob and Kristine Sandage. Bob, a member of the Brewers Association, has been seriously brewing beer for some 20 years, even before the couple and their two young sons moved to Inman Park several years ago.
“Since our college years,” said Bob, who met his wife in graduate school at Iowa State University, “Kristine and I have dreamed of opening a quaint neighborhood pub. We want the Wrecking Bar Brewpub to be a community mainstay where everyone gathers for good conversation over craft beer and artisan pub food.”
Longtime beer connoisseurs, the Sandages have traveled high and low researching and sampling beers. Bob leans toward hop-heavy beers such as IPAs, while Kristine prefers malty brews.
The couple’s plan had been to call their one-day pub “Dr. Bob’s.” But when Bob Sandage sold his engineering consulting firm in 2009 and the old Moreland Avenue mansion property went into foreclosure about the same time, “Kristine and I knew it was a sign,” Bob said. So much for “quaint” Dr. Bob’s. With a 110-year-old mansion of 11,000 square feet on three levels plus the cavernous warehouse/brewery space, an establishment here could hardly be classified as quaint. So what to do with all this space?
That, too, has been addressed. The microbrewery and restaurant/pub are just the first phase, in the mansion’s basement. Within a few more months, renovation to the main level of the mansion will be complete. That space will open as a special events facility for weddings and receptions, corporate meetings and other bookings. The special events component will be named The Marianna, which is what the home’s original owner, businessman Victor Kriegshaber, had named the house itself, after his daughter.
The Sandages opted to maintain the name Wrecking Bar for the pub and brewery, which had been the name for the longtime business on the site that sold fixtures for older homes from 1970-2005.
The 5,000-square foot microbrewery occupies a warehouse on the property, just behind the imposing three-level mansion. In the brewery, master brewer Chris Terenzi utilizes a seven-barrel system plus a two-barrel pilot batch system for specialty brews. An ever-changing menu of brews is planned, with beer styles ranging from light to dark and hoppy to malty.
In addition to expected choices such as wheat beers, amber ales and stouts, Wrecking Bar brews (the only beers to be sold on the premises) will most likely include German-style beers, cask ales and specialties like wood-aged and sour beers.
The brewpub itself features a full dinner menu, with chef Steve Mayer, formerly of the W Hotel at Perimeter, at the helm. For just a taste, appetizers include Golden Ale Artichokes with “green goddess” dipping sauce, and beer-and-cheese soup with house brew and smoked gouda. Sandwiches include North Carolina pulled pork, and a hot pastrami. Entrées include a wild Alaskan salmon with sautéed spinach, sweet potato strings and a golden ale-grain mustard sauce. Mayer defines his tavern fare as “craft bar food,” or traditional bar food made with fresh, all-natural ingredients. For desserts, there’s the Wrecking Bar Sundae (with stout syrup), and a homemade version of a Kit-Kat bar called the Moreland Bar.
“I love bar food,” said chef Mayer. “Wait ’til you try our Wreck Fries with three dipping sauces. If you ask me, it’s just much more fun to eat in a bar than it is to drink in a restaurant.”
Wines and specialty cocktails that nod toward the classics are also on the menu. Just one choice: The Lucy Goosy, a blend of Herradura tequila, pink grapefruit, pineapple and vanilla sugar.
“We’ve been watching the work, and waiting anxiously for the opening,” says Inman Park neighbor Mary Fiorello. “That place was really becoming an eyesore and it’s been great to watch it take shape. I think Bob and Kristine have done an amazing job. They got the neighborhood’s support and every obstacle they’ve faced they have been able to overcome.”
Fiorello enjoys a nice beer herself and has had the pleasure of tasting two of the beers that will be featured on Sunday.
“I think this is going to be good for the neighborhood and good for beer lovers,” she said. “With the Porter (nearby in L5P) and now the Wrecking Bar, we are going to be more of a destination for beer lovers.”
If you go: Wrecking Bar Brewpub, 292 Moreland Ave., Atlanta, 30307. Grand opening noon-11pm Sunday, June 19; regular hours 4pm-11pm Monday-Thursday and Sunday; 4pm-midnight Fridays and Saturdays. 404-221-2600; www.wreckingbarbrewpub.com