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Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen – Handcrafted beer, Honest food, Talented folks

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It all started a few years back at the Macon Beer Fest. Brian Whitley, a homebrewing aficionado who’d quickly turned pro after several of his recipes had gone on to win awards at various beer festivals, was judging a homebrew competition along with Richie Jones, restaurant industry veteran and owner of the acclaimed Downtown Grill. Brian jokingly mentioned to Richie that the two of them should open up a brewpub, but Richie, who’d been wanting to diversify his restaurant ownership for awhile, liked what he heard; one thing led to another, and the two started making plans for Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen to become a reality.

Unfortunately, the first retail space they’d chosen fell through, and plans were shelved until further notice. Brian got so dejected about this that he even stopped brewing beer at home for awhile – “Pouring everything you have into something that just disappears is pretty devastating,” he says – but in January of 2016, Brian’s wife Trish, director of development for Historic Macon, passed along the message that some downtown developers were putting lofts in on 3rd street and were looking for a unique business to go on the ground floor. Getting their hopes up once again felt a little risky, but the second time around, everything gained momentum and fell into place as it should; just a week ago, after successfully procuring their local and state brewing licenses, Brian excitedly brewed his first five batches (that’s 775 gallons!) of beer in the new place. Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen is now slated for its grand opening on Monday, March 27, and its owners couldn’t be happier.

“I truly haven’t enjoyed getting up and going to work in a long, long time,” says Brian, “and I’m loving this – I was at a beer festival in Tampa this past weekend, and I looked over at my buddy and said ‘Man, I can’t wait til our next brew day, I can’t wait to get down there again.’” By ‘down there’ he means the restaurant’s basement, where the brewing magic happens – it features an open view of the shiny, beautiful brewing equipment, including the five fermenters named after famous women in music: Althea, Greta, Ophelia, Jessica, and Jolene. (The beer names are nods to great music as well – there’s a blonde called Heart of Gold, and the porter is Midnight Rider.) The basement is also home to a family-friendly urban arcade stocked with skee-ball, classic arcade games, and other goodies; there’s a lounge area and separate bar, and the entire area will be available for event rental.

The food at Piedmont promises to be amazing; Katie Collinsworth Wurstner, former executive chef of Fork & Key, is at the helm, and she’s keeping the menu small and unique, with room for new specials to be rolled out each day. “I get tired of eating the same stuff every single day” says Richie Jones, “so that’s our logic here – we want to bring something new and unique.” Smoked meats will figure prominently on the menu. There are already plans to offer a brisket banh mi sandwich, and Katie’s Girl Scout Cookie-inspired dessert pretzel, covered with IPA caramel, chocolate sauce, toasted coconut, a pinch of smoked salt, and vanilla ice cream, can bring tears to your eyes just reading about it. Eventually, Katie hopes to do a Ramen Night – something Macon hasn’t experienced yet. “Piedmont already feels like a family to me,” she says. “All through the menu creating and testing, everyone’s really working to make it the best it can be.”

The beer offerings will consist of a small standard menu that’s always available, with additional room for special brews, experiments, and surprises. There will be 7 on draft at any given time, 4 of which will be regulars (a blonde, an IPA, a Belgian wit, and a pale ale, most likely), which gives Brian the other 3 to play around with. He’s thinking of doing a saison with fresh honeysuckle from a Cordele friend’s apiary, which’ll be a perfect way to usher in spring.

That’s the cool thing about having so much talent, experience, and creativity under one roof – they allow themselves room to riff and concoct seasonal, inspired dishes and brews, so as a customer you can trust that you’re going to be getting the best of what’s around. And if you’re interested in being a part of the best of what’s around, Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen is now hiring hosts/hostesses, servers, bartenders, and kitchen staff – passionate knowledge of craft beer is preferred. For more information, or to download the application, check the “Jobs” tab on Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen’s Facebook page. And be sure to set aside some time in your calendar the week of March 27 to check out this innovative new brewpub; I have a feeling that, before long, it’ll be a downtown favorite.

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