After years of working in the restaurant and beer industries, Joe Uhl decided to open a brewery in Kennesaw, Georgia. The goal was a local tasting room that directly serves the surrounding community with a place to enjoy a pint with family and friends. Instead of pursuing broad distribution, the people and restaurants around it would be the focus. Our family, friends, and neighbors would be the customer.
The passage of Senate Bill 85 in September 2017 provided the ability to support a successful brewery business, and we got started. After several setbacks in finding the right location, we are moving forward with Horned Owl Brewing in Downtown Kennesaw.
Why owls? It is the meaning or translation of our German last name Uhl. And, the different names with “owl” in it provide some great names and ideas for breweries and beers!
Joe Uhl has over 40 years of senior management experience in the restaurant industry. This experience includes major roles in multi-unit QSR management and operations in a wide variety of U.S. markets for such brands as El Pollo Loco, Cinnabon, Church’s Chicken, Popeye’s, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Checkers Drive-In Restaurants and Wendy’s. Most recently was the Chief Operating Officer for FSC Franchise Co., LLC which owns and operates Beef O’Brady’s and Brass Tap locations in 23 states.
Joe’s passion for craft beer started over 15 years ago when his son introduced him to craft beer at The Brick Store in Decatur. From that point on he has enjoyed acquiring a taste for all styles of beer. One of his favorite things about a brewery is how it brings together a local community. There is nothing better than to sit down with family, friends or someone you just met to share a pint and a story.
Ryan Lee, our new head brewer, grew up in Kennesaw. After attending high school, he moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan where he would go on to study and wear many hats. Ryan worked as a teacher, professional sushi chef, and outdoor adventure guide; constantly hungry to learn and master new skills. After years of enjoying craft beer, a friend introduced him to brewing and Ryan’s career path became clear.
Ryan’s first years of brewing experience were in the rich craft beer community of Grand Rapids where he was introduced to the basics in part time opportunities and volunteering his time at local brewpubs. He went on to achieve the title of Brewer at East West Brewing Company in Grand Rapids. At East West, Ryan learned creative practices to make beer inspired by classic Indian cuisine. These practices would eventually lead him to Funky Buddha Brewing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Between making beer that pushed the boundaries daily, and a deep love for classic German styles, Ryan developed a broad understanding and love for what made craft beer great. In 2019, a trip home to visit family would lead Ryan back to Georgia where he continued brewing for Scofflaw Brewing Co., making great IPAs.
Ryan’s love for craft beer has always stemmed from a simple belief- that beer has a magnetic power to bring people together. It was this belief that brought him to Horned Owl Brewing. Ryan is excited to return to Kennesaw and bring his expertise with him. He looks forward to creating opportunities for people to meet, reconnect, and grow over a pint of their favorite Horned Owl Brewing’s beer.