WHAT in the world does Hop Atomica mean? If you were like me, spending countless hours during social distancing browsing social media, you definitely spotted the unique new Savannah brewery and wondered the same thing.
Rows of gold beer taps, colorful beer, and pizza? It all ties together seamlessly thanks to owners, creators, and brothers Pratt and Smith Matthews.
After locating an old mid-century building in the Baldwin Park area and taking on their new venture, in spite of the currently difficult times, the two pushed forward their concept: Hop Atomica Brewery & Gastropub.
The name pays homage to the original mid-century building as well as the Atomic era’s scientific explorations. Owners Pratt and Smith Matthews have taken the idea of scientific discovery and infused it into beer making.
Because Hop Atomica is a brewery, the frothy beers being poured should be discussed first. Every hopped beverage is brewed on site, as evidenced by the tanks that sit inside the dining room.
There are approximately ten hoppy brews offered on tap and more to come. The beverages range from juicy IPAs to tropical fruit filled sours.
The standout for me, and the only of its kind on the menu, is the Mt. Crush’more Stout. It is a deep dark full-bodied session that tastes like a smoky-sweet s’more. After stuffing my belly with rounds of food and sour beers, I ended my meal with the stout as if it were dessert.
Pratt explained that the current beers are just the beginning, as evidenced by the sea of gold taps.
“Currently we’re on track to add at least 2-3 new beers a week. It’s hard to keep up with but we hope to have all our taps full in the next month or so. Once they’re full we’ll constantly rotate them. There may be a small handful of beers that stick around but for the most part we will be offering all new stuff all the time.”
Upcoming beers, and the reason I will return within the week, include a smoked sour wheat beer, a pink guava sour, and two housemade hard seltzers. New releases are announced via Instagram, @hopatomica.
As a brewery you would expect the food to take a backseat, but Hop Atomica is not just a brewery.
Don’t expect stuffy industrial taprooms. Instead the new restaurant and brewery features a beautiful air-conditioned dining room and a roomy patio to boot.
The kitchen cranks out dishes just as brilliant as each beer. Although the kitchen is quaint, it features a big, beautiful woodfire pizza oven.
This means storage is limited and as a result fresh ingredients are delivered multiple times per week. The constantly restocked kitchen allows Hop Atomic to be creative with the food as desired.
Specials and new and unique menu items are a huge focus of the team behind the gastropub.
“A sneak peek would be a pork belly pizza, some homemade (baller) hummus, and even some banging house made hot sauces. Like I said, we just want to be creative and have fun. It’s time to geek out on all the goodness,” Pratt told me.
My favorite menu item is the Korean Beef & Cheese sandwich. Super soft bread, which soaks up all of the residual moistness of the sandwich, houses seared bulgogi beef, melted provolone cheese, housemade kimchi, and gochujang mayonnaise.
Don’t go for just one taco when you can try the taco trio for only $13. The tortilla of each taco is the crispy charred shell as a result of a quick cook in the woodfire oven. I have had deep fried tacos, but I had never tasted a taco that had a touch of smoke from cooking in a classic pizza oven.
A taco version of the Korean Beef & Cheese comes in the form of the Bulgogi Beef Taco. Keeping on genre, the Smoked Hoisin Chicken Taco is layered with smoked pulled chicken, crisp red cabbage, crunchy pickled carrots, and a chili hoisin sauce to spice things up.
As a meatless option you will find the Za’atar Roasted Cauliflower Taco. It’s created with deeply roasted spiced cauliflower, a lemon yogurt sauce, and sticky sweet raisins which tie it all together.
You would be mistaken not to sample pizza, especially considering the main vessel for cooking at Hop Atomica is their woodfire oven. I tried two, one to start my meal and one to finish.
The Classic Margherita features a tender, chewy charred crust and a balsamic glaze. The Pepperoni and Bacon eats like a classic American pizza that is balanced with a touch of fresh basil.
The team had help and inspiration from a fellow food in creating the unique menu. According to Pratt, “The food was created by a good friend of ours, Josh Taylor, who is a chef in Charleston. He has done everything from huge production kitchens to small restaurants. He currently owns his own amazing food truck called Root Note. They do a lot of Southern/Asian fusion which we love and wanted him to bring a hint of that into our offering.”
Naturally, guests will want to pair their food with the appropriate beer. Pratt gave me a few suggestions.
“Food and beer wise, there’s all kinds of pairings. The Kaya Papaya sour has fresh ginger, papaya, mango and vanilla in the beer. It pairs almost perfectly with the korean style bulgogi beef taco. The taco has fresh kimchi so the ginger is a perfect match. The tartness of the beer helps cut through the fat in the beef and the tropical fruit just tops it all off!”
It’s good to see that even through these strange times local restaurateurs are able to push through. Hop Atomica’s expansive patio is the perfect spot to maintain social distancing and enjoy some food.
Hop Atomica is located at 535 E. 39th St.