Trappeze Pub breaks the mold for college town bars.
“Most people thought it was a bad idea,” Johnson said, looking back on the launch of his European-style pub.
“A few ‘beer geeks’ understood the concept of a bar that was more about socializing than about getting loaded, but there where tons of people who told us all Athens wants is cheap beer and shooters,” Johnson said.
Though many collegiate patrons may be looking for that inexpensive libation, Owen Ogletree, founder of ClassicCityBrew.com and beer writer, connoisseur, and judge, believes this younger beer drinker is finally catching on.
“Craft beer is the most rapidly growing segment of the alcoholic beverage industry, and its market share is growing steadily,” Ogletree said. “Sales of light beers are on the decrease, and young people around the nation are realizing that craft beer offers a tremendous amount of diversity, flavor and personality. Life is too short to eat white bread or drink light beer, and people are finally catching on in a big way.”
Trappeze has defied the critics and their predictions. The pub’s doors have been open for nearly four years and business has been thriving ever since.
Twenty years ago Johnson’s love for craft and quality beers led him to brew his own beer, learn to be a beer connoisseur, and become co-owner of Trappeze.
Growing up in Athens, Johnson has seen the downtown area renovate and reinvent itself over the years. He remembers it as the commerce hub when Sears and JCPenny thrived, as a near ghost town in the 1980’s when big stores moved to shopping centers.
Clothing and department stores aren’t the only businesses that have fluctuated. At one time there were three downtown bars compared to now, when 107 storefronts have liquor licenses.
In a town where cheap beer and liquor is king, opening a European inspired pub seemed risky.
Johnson said, “It was counter cultural to design a place that would not serve 99% of what people were going downtown to drink. It made it really easy for us to stand apart and be different.”
In the opinion of Ogletree, Trappeze fits into Athens’ beer culture by being the best craft beer bar downtown.
“Trappeze really embodies what is great about a pub truly focused on craft beer – variety, great quality, education, wonderful food and a friendly staff, said Ogletree. “Athens needed a pub like this for many years. Along with Aromas and Copper Creek, Trappeze forms a central hub for promoting the best beers on the market today.”
Not only does Trappeze serve some of the best quality beers in town, its design is superior.
“Trappeze was designed to be a place that reflected the esthetic of the finest European pubs, Johnson said. “It was designed around a quiet, clean, well lit, no televisions place where folks could just come and have conversation and while there was a rustic humility to it. We also wanted it to be upscale enough so that there was nothing ‘dive’ about it.”
Trappeze continues to beat the odds by attracting members of Athens’ unique beer community.
“We have accomplished and have created something that is different in Athens,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t something that was radical and out of left field, but it is just something that was quieter, a place that was designed around community and conversation.”
Johnson is proud to serve his superior beer selection at Trappeze and is passionate about his creation. He has brought a European style to the downtown area.
“The role of the pub if you go to England,Belgium, wherever—it’s a community place,” Johnson said. “It’s not a place where you go, you know, to ‘let’s get f*cked up!’ that’s just not the pub culture in Europe.”