One of the founders of local hipster supper-club The Four Coursemen, Damien Schaefer, is looking to start a brewpub in Decatur called Normaltown Artisanal Brewery & Cucina, and he's seeking investors from across Georgia.
Why call it Normaltown and not put it in Athens? Schaefer is a realist. He says, "Atlanta’s market is larger and can support the quality of the food we are going to be producing. I have dear friends in the Athens food scene there who own outstanding restaurants and my thought is that Athens can only support so many restaurants who produce on the level of Five & Ten, The National and Seabear. Adding another higher-end restaurant thins that crowd of diners who eat at those restaurants regularly and, I fear, takes away business from each of them."
He's not wrong, especially when he points out that high-end Neapolitan-style pizza topped with seasonal ingredients would have a hard time competing with Little Italy in a town used to paying pennies for slices.
As far as the name goes, he says, "I was thinking of the best names and that one just stands out to me. It honors my beginnings and my favorite neighborhood in a city I love."
On the beer end of things, he says his plan is eventually to have 35 taps of Normaltown's own beers. "We will represent all beer styles with a focus on introducing unique local and seasonal ingredients that are meant to enhance the particular beer style’s innate flavors. If the ingredient does not enhance the flavor of the beer then you are just ruining a perfectly good stout or porter, etc.
"These ingredient additions will be done with a chef’s touch. In my opinion, there are a number of breweries across the U.S. who are simply throwing weird ingredients into their beers for shock value or novelty and not because they necessarily make the beer taste better… The craft beer market is so curious today they buy it up. I think they want that novelty, but they primarily want a delicious beer."
Whose stuff does he like? "I am following a model my friends Walt and Luke Dickinson at Wicked Weed in Asheville took. It bums me out that they beat me to it, but they are making some of the best beers and sours on the East Coast and have sold more beer in their first two years than most brewpubs do in their lifetime. I love their approach."
Normaltown won't sell anyone else's beers, just its own, and it doesn't plan to get into the canning/bottling business. Schaefer says the costs of distribution and the lack of a market for certain styles of beer (coals to Newcastle = IPA to San Diego) make that kind of a model untenable. Instead, he plans to focus on what's local and, if he expands, to create other branches of the restaurant/brewery instead of shipping product.
In terms of the decision to crowdfund, Schaefer's attorney told him that Creature Comforts has more than 800 investors and Orpheus (in Atlanta) has more than 1,500. That many investors means that many advocates. Spreading the risk around may mean he needs more people to buy in, but it also makes that kind of investment smaller and less risky for each person. Details on what all else investment requires is available on the website above, in the investor deck.