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Intersection of music and beer: One of the few Black-owned breweries opens in Atlanta

"You should always shoot for things that are lofty so you can have something to swim towards."

ATLANTA — What happens when you mix craft beer with renowned hip-hop artists? For Fish Scales and Skinny DeVille, they hope it equals opportunity.

The two artists, best-known as part of the rap group Nappy Roots, celebrated the grand opening of their new brewery, Atlantucky, on Friday. The brewery, named after Atlanta and Kentucky, where members of the group spent decades traveling and making music, is a physical representation of four years of hard work.

“Beer became a part of our journey as Nappy Roots,” Scales said.

The group spent years touring, going to breweries to promote shows, and took an interest in the behind-the-scenes effort of craft beer; something Scales admitted to thoroughly enjoying.

The two started brewing in Scales’ garage four years prior to opening their own brewery.

But what did that first beer taste like?

“It wasn’t beer. It wasn’t even beer. It was closer to mop water,” Scales said, sharing a laugh with DeVille. “And our first two beers, it was terrible. But that third beer, we just looked at each other and said, ‘Do you feel something?’ and we both had a buzz at the same time, and it was one of the proudest moments to know you produce a quality craft beer.”

And so, it was on to investing in a new creative outlet. An outlet that DeVille said isn’t that much different than being in the studio.

“To make a beer, it may take five or six hours, if you’re in a studio, in a session trying to make a song. For the beer to actually ferment, it takes about 14-21 days give or take. For you to live with your song, to get it mixed and mastered, it can take that same amount of time,” he said.

Think of their four hand-crafted beers as their latest singles: a stout, pale ale, IPA, and Hefeweizen. Located at 170 Northside Dr. SW, the brewery offers a stunning view of Mercedes-Benz Stadium and isn’t far from HBCU’s Morehouse, Spelman, and Clark Atlanta. The communities around the brewery- one of the main reasons for picking that spot.

“We want to stay right here in the community and continue to serve the people in the community. Minorities, not even Black people, own less than one percent of all craft breweries in the country, so that is a mission for us to change that,” Scales said.

DeVille adding, “There’s a lot of Black people that like craft beer in Atlanta. So, what better place to put a brewery than in Atlanta.”

The duo knew they didn’t want to just slap their name on someone else’s product and just be the face of a beer. They wanted to keep it real, keep it nappy if you will. And so, their investment in the brewery is 100 percent authentic, and so is their investment into those looking up to them.

The three-roomed, double-tiered venue is also an opportunity to give other local artists chances to use the space to help promote and grow their careers.

“Somebody helped us get here so it would be in our best interest and it’s in our heart to help others use this platform for hip hop artists to come in and perform. Different artists put their art on the wall and showcase their talents. It’s too easy for us to do,” Scales explained. “We‘re going to take advantage of that every day. You will always see other artists showcased in Atlantucky.”

And if there’s one takeaway from the brewery, it’s the irony of four walls representing a step outside the box. No one is just one thing, DeVille adding Atlantucky is proof you're not always what everyone expects you to be.

“You should always shoot for things that are lofty so you can have something to swim towards. This was a lofty goal for us four or five years ago. And even to get the keys on September 7th of 2020, that was a while ago and to keep chipping away at what needed to be done, I think that’s how you have to live life,” DeVille said. “If you’re ambitious at anything or have a dream at anything, I say go for it. Don’t let nobody tell you no, it might take longer than you think. You might get set back and go back to one a couple of times but that’s just what it is. Nothing worth having comes easy.”

Leave it to a musician to drop such sweet bars…and beers.

Atlantucky Brewery is open Wednesday through Friday, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Food is also served along with the craft beers. While they are serving four original beers, the brewery has the space to house 18 beers at some point in the future.

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