There’s a beautiful, funky building in Inman Park, on Moreland Avenue between Little Five Points and I-20 that has caught my eye every time I’ve driven past it since I moved here in the late ’90s. Built in 1900, the building was originally a private residence,called “The Marianna”. Since then it has been a church, a dance studio (several locals still remember taking dance lessons there), a gas station, and an antiques store. Now, thanks to Inman Park residents, Kristine and Bob Sandage, it’s being returned to its original glory, as the Sandages slowly work to recreate and restore the original elements – trim around windows and doors, the mantels, restoring fireplaces…and oh, did I mention, turning it into a very cool brewpub?
The most recent business in the building was an antiques store filled with interesting large pieces, hardware, and curiosities. Bought in 1970 by Wilma Stone, the upstairs antiques store was called The Wrecking Bar and was shopped by locals for 35 years, the longest period of time it was ever one entity; Stone even attended the brewpub’s opening day and shared stories of the building’s history. Retaining the name of the much-loved antiques store, the Sandages have christened the Wrecking Bar Brewpub, located in the repurposed basement, beneath what is now the event space, named once again, “The Marianna”. The pub’s low-ceilinged coziness is warm and welcoming. It feels like your local from the moment you walk in and pull up a stool to the bar.
First things first – let’s talk about the beer. Being married to a beer-lover means that I’ve tried a lot of beers – some I’ve liked, others not so much, a few that I’ve loved (I’m more of a cocktail girl myself – speaking of cocktails, see below for more on those). I haven’t always had the best luck with craft beers – I often find them too hoppy or malty or simply too strong for my taste, or I’ve found that the many varieties offered under the same roof all taste too similar. Clearly, I haven’t been tasting the right ones. From my first sip of Wrecking Bar’s King Louie IPA (and I’m a self-proclaimed IPA non-enthusiast), I was convinced. This is craft beer I can get on board with.
At our beer-tasting dinner, I sipped on King Louie IPA, Golden Nelson Ale, Ol’ Lantern Jaw English Mild, Belgina Wit, WB Abbey Dubbel, and Jemmy Stout. I’ve returned since and sampled more, the names of which I can’t even recall. I have not yet been disappointed. On a visit with a beer connoisseur (in addition to my husband, Ben), I’ve been told that it’s a beer-lover’s dream come true. I have to admit, I’m still not an IPA fan and the Belgina Wit is really not to my personal taste, but the English Mild, the Stout and the Ale are ones I will come back for…those and the chance to try more of Brewmaster Chris Terenzi’s creations.
If beer’s not your thing, mixologist Stevenson Rosslow, the Brewpub’s General Manager (and also a certified sommelier and certified mixologist) is on hand with a creative cocktail menu, which recently received rave reviews from local Atlanta cocktail blog, Our Libatious Nature. It’s not your average brewpub – wine and cocktail lovers are well cared-for, with a thoughtful wine list and inspired cocktails like The Hummingbird, The Hemingway (1oCane run, Luxardo maraschino, fresh lime, shaken and served up), In the Park (Gordon’s gin, fresh basil, grapefruit juice, and soda), and my favorite summer-season drink, the Violet Beauregard (any place with a cocktail named for a Willy Wonka character is all right by me – Titos vodka, Creme de Violet, blackberry, chamomile & lemon). Even the Manhattan (Four Roses bourbon, Antica Formula, bitters, house cherries) was given an enthusiastic thumbs-up from our friend, Nicky, from Our Libatious Nature (and that’s a thumbs up that’s not easy to come by).
The menu features upscale versions of what you might expect from a pub – and a few unexpected surprises. From Spinach and Artichoke Dip to Wild Mushroom Flatbread (one of my favorites on the menu – pictured below), Heirloom Tomato Salad to a Classic Grilled Cheese, and entrees like Braised Beef Short Ribs (melt-in-your-mouth delicious, braised in the brewery’s own dubbel and served with stone ground Poblano grits) and Pan-Seared Copper River Salmon, the menu hosts a variety of good grub sure to please. Be sure to ask your server for some suggested beer pairings – with a variety of Wrecking Bar’s own brews on tap daily, the perfect pairing is just waiting to be savored. And though we haven’t tried it yet, I’m looking forward to returning to check out Sunday brunch – I’m looking at you, Munich Malt Pancakes (served with banana pecan compote and real maple syrup) and Eggs Marianna (poached eggs over heirloom tomatoes and crispy Poblano grit cake, basil Hollandaise, and herb potatoes).
But it’s not just about the food and drink. Friendly service, knowledgeable staff, great prices – that’s my idea of a neighborhood hang-out, a great place to bring friends and return time and again.
Explore our photos below from our first visit at a media tasting and then from subsequent visits with friends – it’s one of our new favorite places to enjoy a bite to eat and, of course, craft brew (my hubby’s a particular fan of the IPA), and to hang out with friends.
Full disclosure: Wrecking Bar Brewpub graciously hosted us for a media dinner and our bill for that meal was comped by the house – some photos above are from that event, while others are from subsequent visits that were not complimentary. In all cases, all opinions expressed here are my own.