In a clear illustration of the Atlanta beer scene’s rapid and systemic growth, Second Self Beer Co. announced a major expansion and plans for the future this week. The brewery, which opened to the public in the fall of 2014, revealed that its production will increase by approximately 150 percent in 2016 alongside the opening of a much larger taproom, three times the size of their current space.
The Westside-based brewery has in fact been operating at capacity ever since March. “The expansion will give us a lot more finished product that we’ll be able to put in cans,” says Santamaria. “We’ve decided to can our Mole Porter, and we’ll want another beer in cans for the summer months. The problem of being at 100 percent capacity is that you’re just always working, and more tank space will free us up for a bit more experimentation. You’ll probably see those experimental beers released primarily through the taproom.”
Inspiration for that new taproom is still being considered. To accommodate significantly larger crowds, the tasting room will be removed from the brewhouse where it’s currently found in a very modest fashion. That current taproom will shut down in January to focus on construction of the new space, which is angling for a Spring 2016 re-opening.
Second Self’s presence in the market has been impressive, measuring up well alongside peers such as Orpheus and Eventide Brewing, with a philosophy that has fallen somewhere in between. Prototypical beers from Second Self are notable for their subtle twists on classic styles, often achieved with the aid of fresh spices. Where a typical brewery might produce an IPA, Second Self produces a “hybrid red rye IPA.” Where others might make an American pale wheat, Second Self makes a Thai Wheat with lemongrass and ginger that has become the brewery’s unexpected best seller. Their beers are both familiar and slightly exotic.
“We thought Red Hop Rye would be our big seller, but when the weather got warm it was left in the dust by Thai Wheat,” co-founder Jason Santamaria says. “But it’s a beer that speaks toward what we’re trying to achieve. It’s a truly fresh-tasting ginger beer, even compared to other beers with ginger in them.”
Even with optimistic projections, though, Santamaria and the rest of the Second Self team hardly expected to end up with every tank full and production maxed out so quickly. They held steady at first, wondering if their orders were simply being boosted by the novelty of being a new brewery in town, but when those orders failed to slow down, it became clear the growth was genuine. Much of that beer is sold via draft accounts, with the remaining 40 percent of sales from cans of Red Hop Rye and Thai Wheat. That disparity toward draft accounts is one thing that will change when production is ramped up in 2016.
Of course, a new taproom and expanded production only scratches the surface of everything Santamaria has planned for the future of his company. When asked what he has on his wish list after a first year of brewery operation, there’s no shortage of items and plans already in motion.
“Our barrel-aging program will expand, and we’ll have a dedicated area for barrels in the brewery,” he says. “And one thing we wanted to do in year one but never had the room to was collaborations with both brewers in Georgia and [ones] across the country.”