Co-Owners Josh Rachel and Michael Lundmark discuss the origin and community goals of their successful craft brewery.
Inside the currently expanded wing of Jekyll Brewing Company based in a small business district of Alpharetta, six employees are diligently working to bottle and package the brewery’s highly anticipated Red Neck Christmas Stout in time for the festive month of December. Brewery Co-Owner and Brewmaster Josh Rachel—garbed in overalls, a long-sleeved company shirt, work boots, and a skullcap—is operating the controls of the recently installed, state-of-the-art bottling line. The newest addition to the Jekyll family, Derrick Atkinson—formally of Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Company—proves his worth as the “Tap Room and Ballyhoo Director” handling calls and emails on his mobile device. Their current objective for their steadily burgeoning fan base is simple; to add more experimental, inventive concoctions to an already impressive portfolio of beers including the top seller, the citrusy Hop Dang Diggity India pale ale. It’s the goal every craft brewery wants to achieve, and Jekyll has earned the right since its inception in 2013 due to the leadership, hard work, and dedication of the co-owners, Josh Rachel and Michael Lundmark.
Since the boom of craft breweries opening up throughout Georgia in 2004 thanks to the passing of House Bill 645 which allowed the alcohol limit of beer to jump from six percent alcohol by volume to 14 percent. Since then, there has been a steady growth of consumers who have become receptive to more complex beers boasting everything from hoppy IPAs to silky smooth, dessert-like imperial stouts. Lundmark and Rachel wanted to be a part of this trend and realize a mutual dream.
“Both Josh and I had always had an idea to open a brewery, but we didn’t realize it would be together,” Lundmark, says. “Josh was working at the homebrew supply shop and got to hear every homebrewer’s dream of ‘going pro,’ but was waiting for the right timing and concept to move forward. I was a homebrewer and business developer in corporate America, ready for a change.”
The first course of action was developing a business plan that included the location of the brewery, styles of beer, projections, and, of course, the name. As a self-proclaimed lover of US history, Lundmark christened his proposed venture “Jekyll” in honor to the first craft brewery founded in the “Deep South” by Major William Horton on Jekyll Island in 1738. After finding the proper investments, he approached Rachel to join the team as the official brewmaster. Almost simultaneously however, their main investor backed out, so terms were altered and both Rachel and Lundmark became 50/50 partners, approached family and friends—plus a Kickstarter campaign—to collect financial support, and eventually made Jekyll a reality. The brewers are young, Lundmark is 43 and Rachel is 30.
“With me as the founder and president, and Josh as the brewmaster and co-owner, we were a perfect team of quality operations and business acumen,” Lundmark explains. “Fueled by the reality that we had families relying on us providing for them, failure was no option. We worked hard to bring fresh, high quality beers to market without an extra dime for anything.”
So why Alpharetta? Rachel answers, “It was clear that we needed to not only have the ability to grow in square footage, but to also be a part of the community. Along with the City of Alpharetta providing us with that, they also have been very supportive and welcoming.” Smiling, he admits, “It didn’t hurt that I already lived in Alpharetta and wanted to be as close as possible to the brewery since I knew I would be spending countless hours there.”
And since opening their doors in 2013, Lundmark and Rachel have been highly successful. Besides the new, high-gravity beers set to warm up their fans during the winter season including their Copious Imperial Stout and Off the Grid English Barleywine, a long list of advancements are in the works: There is now an aging program established featuring bourbon, rum, Canadian whiskey and red wine barrels; a variety of hard-to-find hops on the way; and a recent bank approval for expansion, including new grain silos, a brew house, fermenters, brite tanks, a packaging line, and the addition of 5,000 more square feet for cold storage. “We think the quality of the beer can only get better with better equipment,” Lundmark says with a smile.
But Jekyll’s main objective is the most commendable. Lundmark shares, “My wife, Erin and I have always been involved on our community and charity work, so we wanted to create a brand that would allow us to bring a new level of charitable work to the community.” Their favorite charity is Radiation Vacation, geared to provide recreation for families attending the Winship Cancer Institute in Macon, GA, while their children receive radiation treatment.
Ultimately, with their tap room consistently filled with smiling imbibers, a growing portfolio of award-winning beers to pour, and an overall mission to give to those in need, Jekyll Brewing has reinvented the meaning of “southern hospitality” one keg at a time.
2855 Marconi Drive, Suite 350