Nappy Roots began experimenting with their home brewery, Atlantucky, which fermented their passion for microbrewing. In 2017, the group introduced their first two craft beers with Atlanta-based Monday Night Brewing.
The limited-edition brews were so successful that the group was inspired to expand on opportunities with other breweries across the county. Nappy Roots has produced more than a dozen craft beers to date. The group plans to open a brewhouse with their own taprooms in Atlanta this year.
Follow Atlantucky Brewing on Instagram.
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for High Velocity Radio.
Stone Payton: [00:00:15] Welcome to the High Velocity Radio show, where we celebrate top performers producing better results in less time. Stone Payton here with you this afternoon. You guys are in for a real treat. Please join me in welcoming to the broadcast with Atlantucky Brewering, Skinny Deville. How are you, man?
Skinny Deville: [00:00:34] What’s good Stone man? Pleasure to, um, be a part of this awesome opportunity. Thank you for having me.
Stone Payton: [00:00:39] Uh, first of all, am I saying that right? Is it Atlantucky Brewing?
Skinny Deville: [00:00:43] Atlantucky.
Stone Payton: [00:00:44] That’s my first question. Right out of the box, man. Uh, what prompted you to call it that?
Skinny Deville: [00:00:51] Well, um, so we’re in the group Nappy Roots. Me and my business partner, Scales, and, um, I’m from Kentucky, and we’re living in Atlanta, and just just going back and forth from Kentucky to Atlanta. Um, a lot just to, you know, do what we do as the hip hop group Nappy Roots. Um, it’s just that little fictitious place of driving down, uh, driving up 75, uh, the 24 to 65. And between Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia, that little area right there, a little sweet spot is kind of what we call the Atlantic. And so, um, when we were just coming up with ideas to open up a brewery, what not a better way to do it was something that no one else would think about. Um, but still, give us where I’m from and where we’re at at the same time. And so Atlanta, Kentucky is just this down home vibe. Um, you get the southern, get the southern hospitality, but you still kind of get the, um, Midwest kind of edginess that, uh, little, little villains have. And so, um, to make beer within that little, that little safe space that we call Atlanta was, uh, was the only the only option that we saw as a no brainer.
Stone Payton: [00:01:59] Well, I love it, and I’m so glad that I asked. And I was, uh, stalking you a little while ago before we came on air, and I. And I got a little bit of a peek at some of your, your merch. And my listeners know that I’m a hat guy, so I got to get my, my hands on a hat. And I definitely got to get my hands on on some of this brew. I got a thousand questions about the about the brewing business, and I know I won’t get to them all. But before we go there, you mentioned being, uh, part of Nappy Roots, a hip hop group. Tell me a little bit about that work, man.
Skinny Deville: [00:02:29] Man. Oh that’s true. We’ve been in the game over 20 years. We got signed to Atlantic Records in 1998 while we were all still in college. Western Kentucky University. Shout out to the Hilltoppers if any Hilltoppers are listening. What up? But, um, we started, uh, this group, uh, me and my partner, uh, my other partner, Ron Clutch, back in the early 90s, mid 90s, uh, just really impressed by what Goodie Mob and Organized noise and, and Outkast were kind of doing a representing the South, and we thought that we could have our own representation from Kentucky, kind of how they were doing it. And so we just said we were going to be the southern conscious hip hop group. That wasn’t just going to talk about, you know, materialism or things that we couldn’t afford, but talk about the things that made sense to us, um, coming from where we’re from and, you know, things that we can relate to. And so, uh, we got signed to Atlantic Records in 1998. Um, our first album that came out with, uh, under Atlantic Records was a watermelon, Chicken and Grits in 2002. It ended up going to, uh, sell platinum, and we got two times, uh, nominated for a Grammy off of that album. And that just kind of set us up for, um, you know, fortune and fame and how we thought it would have been, um, a little different than what you think it is, but, um, still fun nonetheless. Um, fast forward, uh, you know, 2015, 2016, we started getting into, uh, craft beer and we was able to make our first beer with Monday Night Brewing and able to take what we’ve done through hip hop and recreate it into what we’re doing right now with beer.
Stone Payton: [00:04:02] Well, I got to believe that there were a great many lessons learned. Surely some successes, surely some trials in the music business. But surely some of that translated and helped you get this brewing business off the ground. Yeah.
Skinny Deville: [00:04:18] Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. The music business and the beer business or making beer and making music are very eerily similar. And I’ll just give you a quick synopsis of it. So you go to the studio. Studio, you know, you you got a an engineer in there. Um, you got a producer, you got your verses. It takes you about maybe 4 to 6 hours in the studio for, you know, a good session to really get going. And you got some songs coming out. You got about 4 or 5 hours to be creative so that that’s your brewing process. That’s your 4 to 5 hours of you making the beer. Um, you’re riding around listening to your music, you’re making some tweaks or whatnot. That’s your beer sitting in the fermenter for the 10 to 15 days that it takes to ferment. Um, you know, you get your song mixed and mastered. That’s your beer getting put into a keg. Um, and then, uh, you know, once you put that song out and people listen to it, that’s your song. Um, you know, finished version on streaming platform or your CD or whatever your, your can in the store. What used to be a CD on the shelf and distribution is distribution. Someone picks it up and takes it and puts it in this situation that’s, you know, that’s your that’s your universal distribution. And, you know, the consumer listens to a song for about three minutes and some change. And that’s about as long as it takes to drink a good IPA. And if you like that IPA, you tell someone about it. It’s like, if you like that song, you tell someone, you know where this song is at, how they hear it. And so for us to be from the hip hop standpoint and making music and us putting the same time and energy into the craft is the same thing.
Stone Payton: [00:05:50] So now that you’ve been at it a while, this the the brewing business, what are you finding the most the most rewarding man? What’s the most fun about it for you?
Skinny Deville: [00:06:00] The process in itself is really cool. Um, conversing with our customers and seeing them enjoy that beer that we spent, you know, so much time creating and developing, that’s always a highlight. But just as me and scale sitting in the back brewing and just, you know, we’ll sit there and watch it, you know, TV or we’ll watch a YouTube channel and we’ll laugh at some jokes and just the fellowship and camaraderie that me and my partner have is. It’s always a highlight. We brew about 2 to 3 times a week. And, um, I like the cleaning process. I like cleaning the tanks. I like prepping everything, getting everything measured up and weighed in. So when scales comes in to, um, fire up the brew system, he’s ready to go. And so we work hand in hand. Um, but just to know that I have a responsibility that people are counting on is is something that is better than me sitting at home waiting on a show to come down the pipe.
Stone Payton: [00:06:49] Like so many entrepreneurs I have a chance to visit with. Yes, there’s we all enjoy that end product and seeing our public, our fan base, our respective fan bases enjoy what we’re doing. And you know, we’re putting our soul out there a little bit for for people to kind of poke at a little bit, but almost without exception, for it to be sustainable. You got to really enjoy the work too, that the day to day of it, don’t you?
Skinny Deville: [00:07:18] Yeah. Absolutely, man. Um, and just like with music, you have to love to. You have to want to. To be an artist is is very traumatizing to a lot of people, because you’re trying to put your heart and soul onto this piece of paper and it’s just it’s just your opinion. And then someone who has a very terrible opinion will say, it sucks and your comments, and you have to fight through that. You want to be a performer, you have to not have stage fright. You know, you want to be a performer. You have to take all the nos that come with it. And to be in the beer industry is not based on my opinion on a piece of paper. It’s based on me writing this recipe, which is like my verse, and people appreciating this recipe that I wrote down and our execution of it. And so it’s very satisfying to know that what we’re doing on this side of it is just as as, um, gratuitous, if that’s the word I would use to making a song, you still get that same feeling of a sense of accomplishment when someone says, mm, that’s a damn good beer. And you’re like, yes, they like my verse. I mean, they like my beer, you know what I’m saying? So it’s like for me to be an artist and not have that concern, uh, about what people think about me allows me to really make this beer with the same type of kind of attitude and confidence.
Skinny Deville: [00:08:36] And once you learn how to make a beer, you never forget. Just like when you learn how to rap, you know, it’s just, you know, the gloves come off if you really get good at it and you spend some time doing it. So, um, I think we’re the best positioned for it. I think a lot of people, a lot of breweries, they don’t travel like we do. They don’t go to different cities and, um, try different breweries because they’re homebodies, you know, they’re pipe married, their wife. Don’t let them leave too far too long. They’re not comfortable with leaving because they got kids with responsibilities. But as an artist, we was on the road before the pandemic, about 75 shows a year. So when we were always going somewhere and getting a city and trying new beer and seeing how they did it in this city or this coast or this part of the country, and it just allows us to, um, talk to people where some people might be intimidated or shy or introverts. As an artist, you have to get out there and talk to people. And so we have that ability to get out there and talk to people to find out what’s going on. And we just have that easy, um, you know, uh, shake the hands and kiss the babies type of attitude when we’re making beer.
Stone Payton: [00:09:38] So in the early days of trying to take what is obviously a passion for for you guys on the brewing side and actually take it to market, commercialize it, did you find that you met with some resistance in some pockets, or did was it universally embraced, or did you have to fight through some things?
Skinny Deville: [00:09:56] Um, I’m sure at the very onset of us opening up, trying to open a brewery, even our closest friends, even my parents was like, yeah, right. And it’s almost the same thing as me saying, I want to be a rapper. It’s like, yeah, right, prove it. It’s like, okay, so like I said, our first beer we made with Monday night, they showed us how to actually do it and get the beer to actually to the tap. And what we did with Monday night is we ended up performing as Nappy Roots at our at that event that we had for the release of the actual beer. So we, we married our hip hop lifestyle to the beer itself, and fans of our music and beer came out. And so that says, okay, we can do this. And so we did that a couple more times with, uh, scofflaw. We did it with Cherry Street, we did it with arches, so we did it with some. We pretty much did a collaboration with some reputable, um, breweries, just like if we was a rapper and we got a feature from Jay-Z or Drake or Lil Wayne or T.I., we look for some people that already had some credibility in the game to help us establish our foothold. And once we started making our own beer and scales garage as a home brewery, um, brewer, um, we had some of these people that were supporters of us that come by the garage and try the beer and they’re like, man, this is good.
Skinny Deville: [00:11:14] You guys should open up a brewery. And then the pandemic happened. We were able to stop touring as Nappy Roots and really focus and hone in on what it takes to actually open up a brewery as, uh, Atlantic. And so while everybody was shut down for a year, year and a half, we were able to do all the paperwork and do all the filings to get the process started. So when the, the, uh, the curtain was lifted off of, you know, this, this, you know, once every 100 year pandemic, we were already had the brewery and we already had a lot of stuff ready to go. So we took that downtime to rehone, and we resharpen our blades in a different direction based off of, uh, the knowledge and and the assistance that we had from, uh, a lot of these breweries I named to show us how to get up to that level. Yeah, there’s a little bit of. Yeah, I’ll I’ll believe it when I see it. But now you see it. And we’ve been here for almost two years. Our anniversary, our two year anniversary will be the first Saturday of February.
Stone Payton: [00:12:08] Coming up man, congratulations on the momentum. And what you just described strikes me as a as a blueprint for virtually any entrepreneur to get a. Serious and productive concern up and running. You took something that was your passion. You honed your skills. You look for people who had had already put a dent in that arena. You collaborated with them. You continued to refine it. You took your, uh, a whole nother skill set. And that’s something you could leverage with your music career. And you married it. I mean, I would think that those are some timeless principles that would apply to virtually anybody trying to launch a business.
Skinny Deville: [00:12:47] Absolutely. I think if you want to get into anything, I think you need to be passionate about it because there are going to be some hard days, just like in music, if you know you’re meant to be an artist and you know you’re meant to put out this music, nobody’s going to stop you from you becoming that artist. And if someone does, then you weren’t meant to be an artist. And it’s the same way with anything you set your sights to be, even if it is brand new. Yeah, there’s a lot of heavy lifting at the beginning, but the view once you get to the top is what you you kind of work out and train for. You know, people that want to climb Mount Everest, they don’t start that day. They practice and work and probably go to some rock climbing. I’ve never tried it. I don’t want to go up that high. Uh, but I’m sure people that do put a lot of work to get to that point where they’re at least they get to the bottom of it and say, okay, now I’m here. Now the journey starts. And so with craft beer, you have to. It’s not a lot of money in it at the beginning, you know, um, it’s almost like taking all your money and putting it through a paper shredder is what some people have explained how to what? What’s it like to open a brew? Just take everything you got, throw it in the shredder, because that’s where it’s going.
Skinny Deville: [00:13:51] And if it wasn’t for Nappy Roots, me and my partner would be really in big trouble. Because as I tell everybody, this is skinny and scales of nappy roots opening up a brewery. But this is just William and Melvin trying to open a brewery. We be in really big trouble because we didn’t. We wouldn’t have the name in the brand awareness of Nappy Roots for people to come and be aware of just William and Melvin making a brewery in the middle of Atlanta, we would it would be very difficult because. And just just African Americans occupy less than 1% of the craft beer industry already. Mm. Less than 1% is what African Americans are a part of. There’s about 81 black owned craft breweries, whether they’re in distribution, whether they’re home breweries. Brewers are trying to get their start and actually open a brewery or the contract brewing with another brewery. And their brewery is putting their beer out under that brand that they have established. Only 81. There’s 81 breweries in Georgia alone, so there’s only two black owned breweries in Georgia. That’s us. And hip hop’s brick and brick and mortar. So you have to love it, and you have to know that it’s not. You’re not here for a quick lick. Just like an artist. You might work for ten years before you see any remote shot of fame and fortune, and the fortune part is probably not there. Both. It’s a it’s a, it’s a, it’s a drug. And once you find your first song and people like it and love it, now you’re hooked.
Skinny Deville: [00:15:13] Once you get to that first show and people scream when you come out, oh, you’re really hooked, you know? But you might not find another song for another ten years after that first song took off. We’ve been fortunate enough to have three good, successful singles and a lot of, uh, mid-level success in singles. Our Honor, Our Poor Folks, and Good Day have all gotten our nappy roots above the radar where people know about those songs. But there’s so many other songs that we’ve made that don’t get above that. But you just got to keep this. You got to keep making songs. You got to keep putting out projects. If you love and you’re passionate about what you do. And it’s the same thing as I feel like with the with the craft beer, you got to keep making beer and hopefully they will all stop and pay attention one day. And when they do, you have all these things. But, uh, behind you to say, hey, this is what I work for. It’s for you guys to pay attention to all 14 of my beers on tap, not just the first one I made as a home brewer. And so, um, like I said, you got to be passionate about it. Yes. I love what you do. Because there will be some dark, rainy days, and you gotta, you know, you just gotta embrace the rain just as much as you love the sun.
Stone Payton: [00:16:19] So where is this whole thing headed for you guys, man? What’s next for you on this front?
Skinny Deville: [00:16:25] Oh, man. Um, so we just ordered a cannon line. Um, that’ll be here hopefully by the end of March. Um, and we are not really interested in going to the distribution route because distribution takes so much money, uh, from the hands of the actual brewer themselves. So you got you got the brewer, you got the distributor, and you got the retailer and the distributor and the retailer, that’s they they pretty much take the lion’s share of what the brewers intellectual property and what they made. So for us, it’s like because we come from the music business and we’ve seen how Atlantic Records kind of did us. We went independent, um, back in oh eight, which allowed us to have independent success from, uh, our song Good Day, which went gold independently and allowed us to get the lion’s share of our artist royalties that most artists don’t get when they’re on a major label. So we took that same knowledge and said, well, why do we want to go to a distributor who’s going to take the lion’s share of our hard earned efforts? Um, let’s just sell the beer right from our brewery itself for as long as we can. And you know, those that are not from here. You better come in as a tourist, pick up a couple of beers and take it back.
Skinny Deville: [00:17:33] And hopefully in a year or two, uh, we’ll have those conversations again if we want to go the distribution route. But why go to a distributor and only get $2 out of a four pack when we can keep it here and get all 1699? And we could probably sell it for $2 cheaper than everybody and still make all the money. And so I was like, let’s just work smarter, not harder, and let’s not try to be famous as a as a brewery. Let’s just be respected as a, uh, as brewers and let’s just see where the where the cards fall after that. And if we’re respected and I’m, I’m on a speaking tour, uh, all over the world talking about craft beer, then great. If I just sit here on my patio and sip my own beer, and people respect me for that. Awesome. You know, I don’t want to sell myself short of whoever I am, and I don’t want to sell my soul just to make a little bit of money, because if I would have did that, I would have done a long time ago. So it’s not about the money for us, this is about having fun and growing old, doing something you’re passionate about, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.
Stone Payton: [00:18:29] Amen. So how do we get our hands on your beer right now? Is there a place we can go, or how do we get to it?
Skinny Deville: [00:18:36] Absolutely. So we’re located on, uh, we’re at the corner of Northside Drive and Nelson, which is about a block one block south of Mercedes-Benz, and we’re 170 Northside Drive, suite 96, Atlanta. It’s right on the corner. Um, we sit below, uh, a big apartment complex called Intown Lofts. We’re on the ground level. And so, um, when you get here, you just park across the street. Um, walk about 20ft. Excuse me. I’m. My beard’s coming up, and, um. And you’re here, man, and we have, uh, three, 3 to 4 dope ass brew tenders that will point you in the right direction, no matter if you like lagers, IPAs, stouts. We have, uh, sours. We have, um, specialty beers like our shandygaff, which is a lemonade. Eliminate shandygaff. We have a sweet potato pie that’s about to kick. Um, we have a, uh, a honey wheat called honey. I Shrunk the Beer. That’s amazingly awesome. It adds real honey in it. And, um, so when you get here, you can hang out. We have, uh, 66. I said 66,022ft² of space that you can walk around in. We have games, we have TVs, you can watch a movie game, you can have your meetings here. Um, we’re just now getting into, uh, pizza. We’re doing gourmet pies and paninis here starting, um, next month. And, um, like I said, uh, hopefully by the end of March, we’ll have our canning line, uh, installed. And will you ever get these cans and take them to go right in time for the, um, the, uh, Atlanta United soccer season?
Stone Payton: [00:20:09] Man. Well, I’ll tell you this. You have certainly earned another fan here, and there is going to be a Business RadioX field trip to your facility. And we’re going to try every one of these beers when we get there.
Skinny Deville: [00:20:23] Yes, sir. I will not let you down. The beers are phenomenal. We’ve had a lot of, um, reputable, uh, beer aficionados come in and try the beer. They want to see what the hype was about. And, um, we we we we met the, um, we met up to their expectations. I’m very proud of the staff that we have. I’m very proud of the space that we’re able to, um, occupy. And I’m just honored to, uh, have a second chance at something that I’m passionate about. Thanks to the creator.
Stone Payton: [00:20:53] Well, your passion and your enthusiasm and, candidly, your business savvy comes through over the air. And I am so glad that we made the connection. Before we wrap, I want to make sure that our listeners know how to get to you. So once again, uh, let them know how to how to come have a good time and enjoy some of your beer, how to get there.
Skinny Deville: [00:21:13] Absolutely. So, um, we’re located on the corner of Northside and Nelson. It’s about one block south of Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Northside Drive. Um, we’re on the ground level of Intown Lofts apartment complex, but, um, when you come down Northside, headed south on it, you’ll see a big round sign that says Atlantic Brewing. And you see a big banner out there on the gate. Um, we have indoor seating, patio seating. Uh, we have the taproom. We have a lounge that’s very, um, cool if you want to have private meetings and whatnot. And you can find us at Atlantic at gmail. That’s Atlanta, UK at gmail. As far as our email, you can go to Atlanta Comm if you want to get a sense of it. But look us up on Yelp, look us up on Google, check out the reviews for Atlanta, and you’ll see that our, um, ratings are are we’re pretty high up there. Or you can look at some of the comments that the guests have and some of the things that they say. I stand behind our product, I stand behind our service, and I stand behind, uh, who we are as a, uh, a hip hop group as well as a up and coming brewery. But also USA today gave us the, uh, we made it to number seven best breweries in the country, according to USA today. That was last year’s, uh, voting. But we made it. And that was only our first year in it. So if USA, USA today recognizes this, I’m not saying it’s the word of God or nothing, but, um, pretty close.
Stone Payton: [00:22:37] Well, skinny, it has been an absolute delight having you on the show, man. Congratulations on the momentum. Keep up the good work and we sure appreciate you, man.
Skinny Deville: [00:22:50] Well thank you, sir. I appreciate, uh, taking the time out today to holler at you. And, um, it’s been definitely, um, a good. It’s been a good time. Thank you, sir.
Stone Payton: [00:22:57] My pleasure man. All right, until next time. This is Stone Payton for our guest today, skinny Deville with Atlantic Brewing and everyone here at the Business RadioX family saying we’ll see you in the fast lane.