Above: Joe Keenan, owner of Beer and Wine Craft in Sandy Springs, with one of his home brews. His shop offers supplies for beer brewers and wine makers. Photo by Phil Mosier.
Boxed wine may make wine enthusiasts scoff, but Beer and Wine Craft knows some of the best sips first come from a box when you make it yourself.
The little shop across the street from City Springs in Sandy Springs has boxes on boxes of beer and wine essentials. Some boxes are complete kits with supplies for home brewers and wine makers, including fermenting buckets and carboys. Some boxes store beer ingredients from extracts to grains, hops to yeasts, and some contain valuable wine juices from all over the world.
This month, Joe Keenan celebrates his sixth year as owner, brewer, wine historian and host. The sole proprietor in charge of all things beverage craft, Keenan has made his shop into a hangout where he spends most of his time perched in a leather swivel bar stool plotting his next batch.
After serving as an army officer, Keenan built up his beverage expertise with Steak and Ale restaurants before moving up east to manage marketing for Moxie, the iconic New England pop. He continued to travel for S. Pellegrino sparkling water, flying 200,000 miles a year to Milan and back, until he settled down in Sandy Springs to be a manufacturer’s rep and later CFO for a high-tech company.
Once retired, Keenan circled back to his beverage roots and bought Beer and Wine Craft in 2012. The job keeps him busy planning upcoming brewing classes and lectures for beginners on the history of wine.
“Almost all [brewers] are laid back. The process is easy; it just takes patience and time. If you can boil water and read directions, you can make good beer and wine,” Keenan said.
Getting the Right Stuff
A crafter must have the right equipment though. At Beer and Wine Craft, is a storage area full of kits, supplies, ingredients and equipment that waits just beyond the lobby. Eight-gallon carboys (glass or plastic containers for fermenting beverages) are full of liquids colored pale gold or amber to darker caramels or browns. These are beers and wines in production.
Keenan first listed saving money as an incentive to making wine. A bottle of wine costing $35 retail can be made for less than $8 using a premium wine kit from Beer and Wine Craft, he said. And there’s no lack of taste with over 100 different varietals of winery juices from all over the globe.
“People can come and find wines from every major wine district in the world, with premium, commercial quality grape juice. From the juices, anyone can make wines [like those] from all over the world from New Zealand, South Africa, South America, everything in Europe and all along the West Coast,” Keenan said. “The wine is only going to be as good as the juice you start with.”
Beer and Wine Craft offers a $35 class every Saturday as an introduction on the complete process of making wine, from primary fermentation to de-gassing, clarifying and bottling. In just under three hours, Keenan has each stage ready for hands-on learning with the seamless choreography of a cooking show in which the chef both puts a cake in the oven and pulls out a perfectly baked creation in a single scene.
If you’re seeking the satisfaction of making your own wine, start to finish, Beer and Wine Craft can assist you in just three visits over 4 to 8 weeks. The first visit starts with fermenting the wine in six-gallon carboys. Two weeks later, the wine is racked, during which fermentation is stopped and the wine is syphoned to a new container to leave sediments behind. By the third visit six weeks later, it only takes an hour to bottle, cork and label the wine.
Beer and Wine Craft received a Georgia Farm Winery license over the summer, along with land ready for grape cultivation. Keenan looks forward to expanding his shop to hosting tastings with North Georgia wines, extending his little bar perch to the community.
Help for Home Brewing
Here’s a sampling of stores throughout the north metro Atlanta area that offer ingredients, equipment and workshops for beer brewers and wine makers. Some have extensive selections of home brew supplies, while others carry a limited selection, but also sell craft beers brewed onsite.
Beer & Wine Craft
- 220 Sandy Spring Circle #109, Sandy Springs 30328
- 404-252-5606, beerandwinecraft.biz
- 10595 Old Alabama Rd. Con #10, Alpharetta 30022
- 770-645-1777, beernecessities.com
The Craft Beer Factory
- 2145 Roswell Rd. #110, Marietta 30062
- 404-632-3369, thecraftbeerfactory.com
Dogwood Growlers and Brew Supply
- 6215 Bells Ferry Rd., Acworth 30102
- 404-981-2739, dogwood.beer
Gravity Craft & HomeBrew Supplies
- 1136 Dogwood Dr., Conyers 30012
- 770-679-5118, gravityhomebrew.com
Hop City Craft Beer & Wine
- 1000 Marietta St. #302, Atlanta 30318
- 404-350-9998, hopcitybeer.com
- 1142 Athens Hwy. #105, Grayson 30017
- 770-638-8383, operationhomebrew.com
Schoolhouse Beer and Brewing
- 800 Whitlock Ave. #126, Marietta 30064
- 770-361-5247, schoolhousebeer.com
Wine Workshop & Brew Center
- 2891 Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur 30030
- 404-228-5211, wineworkshop.net