First Draft with Adam Tolsma
A status update from Tap on Ponce's beer buyer
Lifelong Georgia resident Adam Tolsma started working at Green’s Beverages 20 years ago. After a year at the University of Georgia, he transferred to Georgia State University and picked up a job at the Ponce de Leon store to make some extra cash in 1996. “They started me in the Colt 45 section,” he says. “That was the newbie job. You didn’t get to stock the craft beer. You had to stock the cheap beer.”
What could’ve been just a college job became something more, and he started working his way up. When he graduated from State, Tolsma became an assistant manager. Before long, he was general manager of the Ponce store. And then, around 2002, he became beer buyer for the Ponce and Buford Highway locations.
In February 2015, when Jamestown approached Tolsma’s boss about a space in Ponce City Market, he was excited about a new challenge. Jamestown was open to ideas, and the Green’s crew decided to make a unique place with draft beer that’s not always readily available and to get creative with packaging. Somewhere between a bottle shop and a bar, the idea for The Tap on Ponce was born. CL sat down with Tolsma and a crowler of Wicked Weed Pernicious at PCM to talk about how it’s going so far.
“Our soft opening was not that soft,” Tolsma says. “I’m enjoying myself immensely.”
Describe your first beer.
My first exciting beer was an Ayinger Celebrator. It had been sitting the back of Green’s for five years, maybe. We went to the parking lot and drank it. It was the very best beer, so mellow and delicious. We didn’t know anything about vintage beer. I started reading up, studying, learning. I went to Belgium a few years after that.
Tell me a little about The Tap on Ponce’s concept.
Ponce City Market likes things to be a market. Everyone has a to-go component and merchandise. The idea is like a New York bodega bursting with cucumbers. So we’re a market, and we service anyone who wants to go home, anyone who’s working in the office, residents. Folks come down from the offices upstairs for happy hour.
I love the two-packs of cans. How did that come about?
In the city of Atlanta, you can’t sell cold 12-ounce packages. But we wanted to have that available, so we two-packed it. If you want one here, you take one home. Or you have two beers for two people. And it’s fun.
What are you excited about in Georgia beer?
I think we’re getting to a point where Atlanta is competing with cities like Asheville. Wandering Blues from Orpheus, for example, you never would’ve gotten that from an Atlanta brewery eight years ago. I love people experimenting. Inceptus from Three Taverns is another great example. I could fill all 44 taps with Georgia beer and still have A+ quality.
As a retailer, how do you feel about Georgia breweries pushing for more rights, including the ability to sell their own beer directly to customers?
I don’t see it as a problem. It’ll help a lot of little guys get their game on. It’s a direct cash infusion. To use Inceptus as an example again, they sold a ton at Three Taverns. And that goes right into 3T founder Brian Purcell’s bottom line. When people come to retailers, they’re looking for diversity of selection. Maybe somebody goes to Monday Night and gets a six pack, but when they want something more, they go to a package store. It’s symbiotic. I just don’t think it’s a problem.
Monday Night Brewing’s Tie One On 2016?When: Sat., Aug. 6, 2 p.m.
?Where: Monday Night Brewing
__?To celebrate its fifth anniversary, this Westside Atlanta brewery will pour a ton of rare beers, provide music, games, and food trucks, and send everyone home with a souvenir bomber.
Wrecking Bar Brewpub Wood-Aged Wednesdays__
?When: Every Wednesday
?Where: Wrecking Bar Brewpub
?Price: Depends how many wood-aged beers you drink
__?Each week, the Little Five Points brewpub serves up a special small-batch beer that’s been aged in a wood barrel.
5 Seasons Cask Night__
?When: Every Thursday, 5:55-7:55 p.m.
?Where: 5 Seasons North and Westside
?Price: Depends how much cask ale you drink
?Each week, a different guest taps a different keg of “real cask ale.”__