The beer taps at Athentic Brewing Company in the Normaltown area of Athens, Georgia, on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. (Photo/Caroline Barnes)

Athentic Brewing Company celebrated its grand opening on Aug. 22 in Normaltown Athens by kicking off its Black is Beautiful campaign and a special stout beer to accompany it. The campaign originated in San Antonio, Texas by Weathered Souls Brewing, and all Black is Beautiful proceeds from Athentic are donated to the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement.

Athentic Brewing started as a dream of two friends, Paul Skinner and Mark Johnson, who wanted to start a homemade brewery together. They participated in homemade brewing competitions and later decided it was feasible to open a microbrewery in Georgia with the goal of cultivating “a beer community based on quality products and neighborhood involvement,” according to their website.

“Their goal has always been to brew quality beer while supporting the community,” Kimberly Wise, marketing and events coordinator of Athentic, said. “They both aren’t from here. They moved to Georgia about 20 years ago and loved it. Starting this brewery is their way of giving back.”

The brewery chose to kick off its opening events with the Black is Beautiful campaign to give back to the community as soon as its doors opened. Athentic joined Weathered Souls in this campaign to “raise awareness for people who are facing injustices across America,” Wise said.

The Black is Beautiful stout is brewed differently than Athentic’s normal beers, giving it a more “caramelized, chewy” taste, Wise said. Athentic used the recipe originated by Weathered Souls without altering it but chose to utilize a more “unique” tank system to bring out all of the flavors.

While the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement associates the Black is Beautiful campaign with the alleged racism found in Athens bar culture, Athentic did not go into this campaign with that intent in mind. Instead, the brewery wanted to focus on bringing awareness to similar injustices, Wise said.

“It was pretty convenient to see that our campaign, which didn’t start with that intent, also contribute to a movement to change Athens bars,” Wise said.

While the brewery owners and employees have worked on this official opening for years, they found this sudden change in an opening campaign to be “easy and effective.”

“I liked this because it was easy for us to invite friends and family to our opening while saying ‘this is who we are and this is what we stand for,’” Wise said. “This is really the opening I dreamed of.”

In addition to the Black is Beautiful campaign, Athentic Brewing is hosting another philanthropic campaign by donating $1 of every Upright Hermit stout purchase to the Athens Humane Society and also donated to the Humane Society’s Bark & Brew event.

Athentic Brewing Company currently hosts socially distanced events and is open Wednesday through Sunday. They offer no-contact ordering, delivering and maintenance, and host “super socially distance” nights on Wednesdays by moving tables 15 feet apart and limiting contact for their immuno-compromised guests. The business will soon offer food on Saturdays and plan to eventually host live music, Wise said.