Monti ’00 Schools Metro Atlanta on Beer

After nearly two decades teaching middle school science, Thomas Monti ’00 left the classroom to open Schoolhouse Brewing, one of the Atlanta area’s best new breweries.

In just six months after opening, Schoolhouse Brewing had produced 19,000 gallons of beer, with plans for 50,000 gallons next year. The tanks are at capacity, and business is good. Schoolhouse was voted Georgia’s best new brewery by Beer Guys Radio in 2019 and was nominated for best beer in Cobb County in 2020.

Monti poses with a pint.

Monti poses with a pint.

The secret? Co-owner Monti’s knowledge of chemistry, biology and physics — a must for successful brewers — and a school-themed space that feels like the place where beer meets recess.

Every tap behind the bar is shaped like a No. 2 pencil, and beers are given aptly educational names like Social Stouties, Walt Wheatman and Sack Lunch (with peanut butter and jelly flavors). Take a seat on the vinyl benches ripped from an old school bus or visit the back room — the “teacher’s lounge”— for some peace and quiet. Just don’t get sent to the principal’s office, a.k.a. the employees-only area.

“I definitely take a lot of what I learned at East Carolina, especially the science classes, into the brewhouse,” Monti said. “Every day, there’s science involved, from fluid pressures to yeast propagation to enzyme production. I would never have been able to do this without the knowledge that I received at ECU.”

When Monti enrolled at ECU, the Currituck native was in the science department, but he quickly found a love for teaching. He switched majors and graduated with a degree in middle school education with a concentration in science and math. He taught first in Raleigh and then in Marietta, a city northwest of Atlanta.

“I loved it. I loved the kids. But about seven years ago, I chose to leave the classroom,” he said.

Monti opened a small craft beer and home brewing store. Soon, people were asking him when he was going to start brewing and selling his own beer. He and fellow teacher Justin Waller decided to go for it and opened Schoolhouse Brewing in Marietta in 2019.

The duo brew beer two to three times a week at Schoolhouse. A batch in their smallest vessel is about 260 gallons, Monti said. “We use 560 to 600 gallons of water to make that much.” The typical beer is 90% to 95% water, making it one of beer’s most important ingredients. Other key ingredients, per Monti’s brewery ethos, are scientific know-how and a dash of fun.

In the next few years, Monti said he hopes to expand the brewing operation into North Carolina.

“The goal is to move back to North Carolina. That’s my home.”