There is a good chance that if you go up to someone and say, “Name an Atlanta food,” they’ll respond with, “lemon pepper wet,” especially after Donald Glover’s Atlanta catapulted the dish into the national pop culture lexicon four years ago. So the fact that the chicken wing favorite is the inspiration behind the latest collaboration between Atlanta United supporters group Footie Mob and Wild Heaven Beer isn’t all too surprising . . . until you remember that collaboration is a beer.
A lemon pepper wet beer? Could that actually work?
According to Wild Heaven president Nick Purdy, that was the same question he took to to head brewmaster Eric Johnson after bouncing around the unorthodox flavor idea with the Footie Mob leadership: “I texted [Johnson], We can make a lemon wet pepper IPA, right? He goes, Oh yeah, that’s easy, I know exactly what to do.”
Johnson used a hop variety known as “lemon drop” and whole black peppercorns—which Purdy notes are regularly used in saisons—to add just a bit of spice kick alongside the citrus flavor. “It’s a modern IPA with just the hintest hint of a savory note to it,” Purdy says, jokingly adding, “It does not taste like meat.”
But it does pair well with the dish that inspired it, Purdy says. The limited edition beer goes on sale Friday, April 23—the day before Atlanta United’s home opener at Mercedes-Benz Stadium—in cans and on draft at both locations of Wild Heaven’s taprooms. The West End taproom will sell their usual lemon pepper wet wings if you want to test the pairing on-site, or grab a 4-pack of cans to take home and pair with takeout from American Deli, J.R. Crickets, Magic City, or whichever your Atlanta wing purveyor of choice.
One dollar from each 4-pack of cans sold will be donated to Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, an incubator for Black small businesses and entrepreneurs. Wild Heaven developed an ongoing partnership with RCIE last summer with the launch of its Silence is Betrayal IPA, and Purdy says the brewery continues to give a portion of the proceeds from that beer to RCIE each time it is brewed. “If you want to make long-term change, few things are more powerful than ownership of business,” Purdy says. “RCIE is helping create and empower and lift up future Black entrepreneurs. And this city needs as many as possible.”
Avondale Estates location: 135B Maple Street, Decatur, 404-997-8589, opens at 1 p.m. Friday; West End location: 1020 White Street Southwest, 404-254-2232, opens at 12 p.m. Friday. wildheavenbeer.com