Creating a New Consumer Experience for Three Taverns

Brian Purcell feels like a lot of Georgia breweries that opened before late in 2017 missed a lot of the fun of being a small brewery.

Three Taverns, which opened in July, 2013, had to start big because of the ways the laws were set up and production brewing was the only way to open.

“We were all building breweries with 20/30-barrel systems, and just fighting for shelf space right out of the gate,” he said. “In cultures like Colorado, for example, where the laws have been more friendly to taproom sales for breweries, the brewery culture is very different in terms of a brewery starting small with a taproom model and being able to be experimental.

“Because of the commitment to the small runs of beer and selling it out a taproom … [a brewery] kind of can find out who they are, or find out what their customers prefer and make a name for themselves that way and over time start to grow.”

That wasn’t the case when Three Taverns opened. But now with laws changed in September, 2017 in Georgia, it’s helping taproom models for breweries. The almost seven-year-old brewery is now able to experience this sort of experimental growth with the planned opening of The Imaginarium later this year. It will be a whole new experience for both Three Taverns and introducing the brand to a new type of consumer as well.

“I felt like we missed what could have been a really fun and important time as a new brewery because of the way that you had to do things before,” Purcell said.

The Imaginarium Project was something Purcell and his team labeled experimental pilot beers from its 1.5-barrel pilot system instead of beers from the brewery’s 30-barrel, 4-vessel rig.

“So when we decided to actually build a second location, it was just natural to call it The Imaginarium,” Purcell said. It is planned to have 24 taps downstairs and 12 taps upstairs with a constant rotation of experimental beers. The Imaginarium is a 10-barrel, 2 -vessel system that brewmaster Riley Finnigan said will be closely aligned to what he learned to brew on while at Avery Brewing years ago.

Finnigan joined the brewery in February, 2019, which was just in time to help engineer the project and create a brewhouse he was happy to work with.

“I was able to participate in the layout of the facility, selecting all the equipment,” he said at an interview at CBC 2019. “We’re just really excited, the guys are pumped. They’ll still be running the production facility. Obviously, it’s the main focus, but it’ll be kind of a treat I think for the crew to know that we’re gonna have this new, really fun place. Pretty much anything we come up with we’ll brew it because we have to keep the handles all full.”

Purcell noted that the tasting room experience is going to be very different from the original location.

“Our tasting room in Decatur is very old world,” he said. “Wood timbers, old brick, it’s got a very European-pub feel to it and people love it. So this is going to be much more imaginative, much more drawing from the old apothecary.”

Located two miles from downtown Atlanta right off of the newly constructed BeltLine area — where old railroad tracks have been transformed into miles of walking and biking trails — The Imaginarium is a part of an entertainment complex that used to be home to a former dairy.

“It’s going to put us in a much more heavily trafficked area,” Purcell said. “So for us, it’s an opportunity to introduce our brand and the brand experience we want people to have to a much more dense, young population in Atlanta.”

Photo courtesy Three Taverns Imaginarium Instagram feed.

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