I am a beer snob, perhaps this is my Belgian heritage or perhaps it is because I am an asshole anyway. I love the stuff. The varieties, the complexities, the international appeal, the ability to compare and the local allegiances. However, it is this last aspect that Atlanta has the most trouble with. We are a city of implants and faux southerners. Which is part of why it was become the city it is, we are the terminus of the south. However, at your given sporting event, the stands are empty. We have lost our hockey team and basketball, while not going anywhere, is losing the fan base. Even our Braves don’t fill the stands. Now in the beer world, we have suddenly kicked into a beer town and there are several people to blame. First of All, our local Sports Bar Chain Taco Mac. The growing homebrewing movement in Georgia, lead by homebrewing groups like Covert Hops, and stores like Brew Masters Warehouse. I will get into the Beer Culture in the future, but I am thinking at the moment of some Atlanta Beers. Yea, I could talk about the best subtle beer for a barbeque in Ohio (Great Lakes – Burning River). Note: This contest is only for year round brews. I will do seasonal ones later.
First Award of the Day: Best Table Beer!
The idea of a table beer is the same as a table wine. It is generally pleasing, but nothing special. There needs to be wide appeal, it needs to be widely available year round, but not too strong or weak. The best table beer in Atlanta is….
This beer is a West Coast Style Pale Ale. It is easy to find and easy drinking, perhaps a little too hoppy for some, but over all a great beer.
It’s To Damn Hot! Welcome to Atlanta!
This category is your summer beer. It is sitting in the park in +100F weather. It is Turner Field in the Summer. It is light, refreshing and great ice cold. The current winner is: Jailhouse’s Slammer Wheat
This beer comes from one of Atlanta’s newest brewers. Instantly, I thought of a wheat beer and mildly sweet and citrusy. The beer is an example of an American Wheat, sweet almost lemonadey (as opposed to a German Hefe which is dry). Nationally, this is the best version of an American Wheat I have had, which says a lot, it is a popular style here.
F**k you in the Face
This category goes out to my friend Michael Kraus. He said that he likes a beer where the quality that people want in it (the sweetness, hops, bitterness, etc) is so strong it fucks you in the face. This one has a clear winner. Terrapin’s Hopsecutioner .
This beer is nothing if not hoppy. Of the many breweries in the country, Terrapin handles hops some of the best. Of the many breweries in the south, Terrapin is one of the most known and respected. The beer is incredibly hoppy, but still drinkable. It is truly a triumph to Spike and the Terrapin crew.
The Best Nighty-Night Beer
Some beers are light, some beers are heavy. This beer needs to be drinkable, sweet and high proof. Needs to be able to end a good meal and be a relaxing end to the day. The Winner is Wild Heaven – Ode to Mercy . This beer is an imperial brown, it is caramel malty sweet and crisp; distinct in both bottles and kegs, the beer is a newcomer, but still a great fixture to the Atlanta Beer scene. It is risky to start with an imperial beer, but they pulled it off.
Honorable Mention – Red Brick Brewing (formerly Atlanta Brewing Company
This brewery has recently reformulated all their beers and they are now the quality that can compete nationally, but they need more time to find their new niche. Their Bock is strong, their Brown is smooth, etc. However, they are not as relaxed and fun like Sweetwater, or intense like Wild Heaven, or Mom and Pop like Jailhouse, or polished like Terrapin. They are turning it around, I think by next Christmas they should be solid again, and they have very good seasonal beers.