How is there even a local Beer movement in Atlanta? It took us shorter than a micro(brewery)second to realize breweries in Atlanta operated differently than our Central Florida ones. As Beer enthusiasts, we aimed to taste as many local brews as possible. We planned to spend the day bouncing from brewery to brewery from noon to midnight.
Atlanta breweries are only open for a window of a few hours. A few hours?! How did anyone expect me to fit a big Jenga game and several flights into that time? Friday was our only official drinking one (a friend with a child was arriving the next morning and we wanted to do more child-friendly activities upon their arrival) we needed a plan to maximize those few hours. Georgia breweries can’t sell alcohol directly to patrons, so they avoid the legalities by selling you a tour and tasting package. Being faithful quasi-alcoholics, we always skipped the tours and went straight for the large pours.
Thankfully Hop City, inside the Krog Street Market, didn’t need to follow those rules. With a rotating selection of dozens upon dozens of local brews, I was pleased to see Craft Soda and Nitro Coffee in the line up. I took a Monday Night Ginger Soda while my friends took flights of Rogue, Red Brick, Terrapin and more. Occasionally one of us would escape for one of Krog Street’s eateries. I swear drool was spilled and all heads turned sniffing the air when I arrived with Garlic and Basil Fries from Fred’s Meat & Bread. On my way out, I grabbed delicious, crispy Cookies with flavors such as Lavender, Earl Gray, and Mocha from The Little Tart Bakeshop.
The Old Fourth Distillery was a short walk away where we took a tour of their small factory. While the staff there was obviously passionate and proud to be running one of the few distilleries in the state, their Vodka failed to impress my group. But since small-batch Gin was less common, a couple of us walked off with bottles in our bags.
Sweetwater Brewing is probably the most well-known Atlanta brewery. I didn’t expect the scene to look and feel like a Spring Break party especially with all the beach-themed items (does Atlanta even have a beach?) and crowds of people both inside and out. We had to yell at each other just to have a conversation. Despite the party atmosphere, we didn’t join much. As a Stout fan, their Happy Ending filled my need and their Blue Wheal Ale had very, very mild Blueberry hints. We weren’t fans overall.
Onward we drove to Orpheus Brewing where the crowds were more spread out over the multiple patios overlooking Piedmont Park in the distance. I think Orpheus’s layout and location were its best qualities because the Beer did nothing but puzzle us. Out of five offerings, three were IPAs and the remaining two were Sours. That’s it? Business-wise this didn’t make sense. We each drank two samples before giving the rest of our tasting tickets away.
By then the magic brewery hours were finished but so were we. We took our hungry selves to another edible Atlanta institution—Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles—for their signature Fried Chicken with crispy skin and soft meat accompanied by thick Waffles. Every seat was occupied inside this poshly-decorated yet casually, welcoming restaurant.
After that… need I say more? We passed out quickly back in our AirBnB in anticipation for another long day tomorrow.