Flight at Stout Brothers

Hopefully you’ve had a chance to visit all of the great Roswell breweries we highlighted recently, but it’s time to shift our attention just a little bit.

We’re not leaving Roswell just yet – instead we’re going to look at some of the great taphouses that are continually springing up here. And when I say taphouse, I don’t mean just a place with a great selection of draft beer – all 4 of these also sell packaged beer to go too! I’m getting ahead of myself.

Proper Hop Taphouse

 

Brand New Proper Hop

We’ll start with the newest kid on the block, but one that has developed an exceptionally loyal following almost immediately. Proper Hop first opened in December 2021, because who doesn’t want to open a new retail joint in the middle of a pandemic?!? PHT has about 20 tap handles and is continually rotating in new choices. They have a good selection of local beers, but they also bring in amazing choices from all over the country. But what really sets them apart is the name … or really, the reason behind it. Patrick, if you’re reading this – this is a compliment. You see kids, Patrick is a bit of a nerd. He believes in serving beer at the proper temperature and in proper glassware. So, if you’d like to sample something and want to make sure it’s being done properly – Proper Hop is a great place to be! (Pro tip – it’s also right next door to Moxie Burger for some delicious burgers!)

 

Oak Street Bottle Shop

Close your eyes and then walk inside Oak Street Bottle Shop. Seriously, the building isn’t what I would call scenic, but it will be all better once you get inside. The tap list is really solid  … about 15 beers on tap. But their package selection is just awesome. The truly remarkable thing here is the people that work there. They really connect with customers and genuinely want to talk beer (or really anything) with the folks that walk through the door. I sent them a message looking for a particular beer (which they DID have, by the way) and ended up discussing high school basketball recruits with them. Super cool crew there. And oh yeah – they also cater beer and wine for events and rent out their space for private parties. You really need to head over and check them out.

 

Stout Brothers Roswell Beer Market

You may know the Stout Brothers from some other locations (The OG in Smyrna and now in Woodstock too.) This little piece of heaven in Roswell can almost be overwhelming at first. You walk in the front door and are immediately greeted by a wall of about 40 taps. The massive chalkboard tells you what you’re seeing, from style, brewery, beer, price, ABV, etc. And fun fact, the chalk color tells you what style beer it is. I don’t know why I love that so much. This is THE place to stop in for a very wide-ranging flight of super high quality beer. And I haven’t even mentioned the package section yet. The BEST part is that nothing is pre-packaged. You don’t have to buy a 4-pack or 6-pack. It’s 100% mix-and-match … build your own pack-to-go. They have a tremendous selection of latest release cans, rare bottles, and most everything in between. (I’m talking craft beer – you won’t find Bud Light Mango on their shelves.)

The selections (both draft and packaged) are next-level, and the staff really knows their stuff. Tell them what you love and hate (be specific) and they can help you find something on the wall you’ll love.

 

Pinkies Up

Just a little farther up the road, you’ll find a place called Pinkies Up. This one really caught me off guard, to be quite honest. A friend told me about some of the amazing beers he found (specifically from Bhramari), and so I just had to check it out. Thank goodness. On my first visit, I was able to meet with Melissa Harbers … yeah she’s the one that runs the joint. This place is 50% wine-50% beer and 100% rock star level knowledge about both. Ask her about her favorite Super Tuscan and she’ll tell a story about a guy she met while in Italy … I’m totally making this up. I don’t know anything about wine, but that’s okay. Melissa knows just about everything.

I assumed that she was the wine half of the store, and there would be someone else who could swoop in and cover the beer side. No – it turns out the Wonder Woman knew just as much about beer as she did about wine. Unreal. So we talked for probably too long about Trappists and the modern IPA game … and … yeah – she knows her stuff cold.

Not as many tap handles as some other places, but the selection is fantastic, and you’ll feel like a long-time family member not long after you arrive. And check out some of the ridiculous bottles she has for sale on the right as you enter. And then buy me a few of them please?

 

Put a Bow On It

I teased it in part one of this story. Roswell has joined forces with a few other destinations in North Atlanta to create the Topside Tap Trail. This award-winning partnership between Visit Roswell, Awesome Alpharetta, and Visit Sandy Springs is a showcase for the growing and impressive beer scene just north of Atlanta. There are currently 7 breweries and yes – you can get a passport to gain stamps at each. Don’t be shocked if there is more to come down the road on this great collaboration.

 

That’s it! Now head on over to Roswell, and I’ll see you there.
Cheers!

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

When looking back on the history of Roswell, GA, there are several distinct periods in its evolution: Native American territory, gold rush town, mill village, quiet suburbs, and now … great place to find a pint of beer! In this two part (for now) series, we’ll dig into the breweries and then the watering holes found in the city, 20 miles north of Georgia, that is repeatedly named one of the top places to live in Georgia.

The Breweries

Gate City Brewing Company

This is Roswell’s OG, or OB I guess. In 2015, Pat Rains and Brian Borngesser brought the first craft brewery to Roswell, and I guess they opened the floodgates. Good for us. Born in garages and moved to a converted mechanic shop, GCBC is now the anchor tenant on a fantastic and vibrant downtown Roswell scene. And it seems like they’re slowly taking over more and more real estate in Roswell. This is simply a great place to sit and sip a beer with friends. The original tap room spilled out behind the building, which brought about a new taproom back there. And then the expansion continued with a new entrance on Canton Street, the amazing new Artillery Room (you have to read about this place), and liquid expansion into craft cocktails.

Gate City is doing what I wish all breweries would. They have 16 beers on tap consisting of regular year-rounds, seasonal favorites that come back from time-to-time, and one-offs. The year-round selections include a Baltic Porter (Terminus), an IPL called Citras Maximus, my favorite – the Copperhead Amber (although you know I’m a sucker for an amber.) For the seasonal releases, some people gravitate to Gourd Vibrations in the Fall, but for my money, nothing beats Golden Ember. It’s a white stout that has a deliciously smooth finish and just makes you think that you’re sitting next to a fire. And now there’s barrel-aged version. Just … yes.

Now … I can’t vouch for the cocktails, because this isn’t BabyGotCraftVodka. I’ll leave that to the experts.

Variant Brewing

Seaweed-based beer. Delicious!

 

Just a few blocks away, you’ll find Variant Brewing. This has quickly developed a huge and loyal following as one of the highest-quality breweries in the state. Yes, the state. “Hey Mike, what does Variant specialize in?” Beer. Good beer. It’s not like it’s just a hop house or a place that only does the dark & heavies. They do just about everything, and they do it really well. A few of their year-round beers are absolutely insane in my opinion: Cashmere NEIPA, Norcross Street (a West Coast IPA), and Dark Alchemy, a fantastic oatmeal stout.

But it’s impossible to talk about Variant without discussing two main things. Variant has been producing special batches of barrel-aged stouts for a long time now, and they are the one thing that creates FOMO in more than any other. It all started a few years back with Cinnamon Roast Brunch and Good S’Morning. They have since added a Barrel-Aged Good S’Morning (which is one of the greatest things I’ve ever tasted), Dark Alchemy, and many more. Simply amazing.

The other is a total departure from the others I’ve mentioned so far. Variant has a year-round Raspberry Lemon Gose. It’s very good, and very sessionable at south of 5%. It’s not overly tart and drinks closer to a nice raspberry lemonade. Delicious and refreshing. But then it happened. The Imperial version came out. 4.8% became 10.5%; like became crave; sessionable became dan-ger-ous. Suffice it to say that this is a must-visit if you’re anywhere near.

From the Earth Brewing Company

Remember the old commercial by Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?
“You got chocolate in my peanut butter! You got peanut butter in my chocolate!”

I think about that when I go to From the Earth.
“You put a brewery in my restaurant! You put a restaurant in my brewery!”

Our flight has been cleared for enjoying

I will admit to you that I was wrong. My first visit to FTE didn’t really impress me on the beer side of the house. It was okay to me, but not great. But the food – holy crap, the food was amazing. That’s what brought me back. And then I tried the beer again, and I was very pleasantly surprised. But, being an intrepid researcher  and reporter, I was afraid that my lowered expectations made the beer seem better than it was – only because I wasn’t expecting much. Nope – the beer was legit. And it keeps getting more legit-er. (It’s a word – no reason to look it up.)

You want the lighter stuff? Have a smooth drinking Golden Spiral. Wanna head for something in the middle? Brown Eyed Girl is your huckleberry. For the hop heads out there …wait until they come back out with Can’t Find My Way Home – a powerful and amazing triple IPA (aptly named when it comes in at 10.2%).

This place is amazing – and it’s equally as fantastic for the beer and the food. Oh, and the amazing concert series in the parking lot, but that’s a story for another day!

 

We’ll be back soon with part 2 in this series, including information on the award-winning Topside Tap Trail. In the meantime, you can find me at, basically, all the above.

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

“There’s a new brewery opening, you wanna go?”

For me, that is like a kid hearing “Hey, they are giving out free candy, you want some?”

I am always up for visiting a new brewery as I can’t wait to experience the vibe. Steady Hand has been gypsy brewing for a couple of years, so hearing they were going to get their own space was pretty exciting. The fact they chose one of the fastest growing areas of Atlanta shows that they truly want to make an impact on the ATL brewery scene, and the opening day crowd definitely showed them the love.

The new brewery is located off Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard on Atlanta’s up and coming westside, just across the street from Top Golf (beer and ball striking…sounds good to me!). The space that Kevin & Brian Sullivan found works perfectly, with large open spaces and a bar that rivals almost any taproom. There is also plenty of outdoor space and I can see this place being perfect for corporate rentals or social events. During the opening they had a fun tribute band playing (Skyballs) and the crowd was soaking up the atmosphere. Speaking of the crowd, they managed to keep a diverse group of attendees happy with activities both inside and out. There were families there with young children, twenty somethings looking for a fun afternoon and ‘older’ folks (hey, I almost qualify) just taking it all in.

Wait…I got so engrossed in the vibe I haven’t talked about the beer! They had eleven brews on the board, with truly something for everyone. From the 5.3% Some Recklessness Pale Ale to the 9% Nitro Irish Coffee Stout, they truly covered the range of flavor profiles with a couple of fun surprises along the way. Talking to several of the attendees the Sweet Potato Farmhouse Ale was a definite winner and the Tangerine variant of their Flower Business DIPA might have been the show stopper. I personally thought the Future Mind Porter was the champion for my taste buds, but as always…results may vary with yours. 😊

 

Beer Thoughts:

Some Recklessness Pale Ale – Easy drinker. Great porch peer and would pair nicely with the cornhole offered at Steady Hand.

Searching for Gold Farmhouse Ale – Smooth. Great beer for spring for sure.

Sweet Potato Farmhouse Ale – Okay, this was surprising. Didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, and my wife loved it. Winner Winner.

Flower Business DIPA – Great DIPA with a very sly 9% that sneaks up on you

Tangerine Flower Business – Yum. Yum. Yum. If this wasn’t 9%, I could drink a case of it.

Paradise Waits IPA – Not my favorite of theirs, but the hopheads seemed to love it.

Future Mind Porter – I gave this one the gold medal for the day. Rich, roasty and everything a porter should be. ON my next visit I will be looking for it!

I had a few minutes to chat with Steady Hand co-founder Kevin Sullivan about what they have created, and you could tell he was very proud of both the beer and the setting. He said they wanted to create a place that everyone could enjoy themselves and keep making good beer. They are operating a 30-barrel system with plenty of room for expansion, and he hope that they can just “keep this going and continue to expand”.

With what I saw and tasted, it’s apparent that Steady Hand has landed with quite the impact on the Georgia craft brewing scene and I’m looking forward to my next visit and I’ll be dragging Mike along too.

(photo creds go to my wife Tracey!)

Russ Webb by Russ Webb
The Dingle Peninsula. Not a draught beer anywhere

The brewery. Why go and visit a brewery? Why did beer enthusiasts in Georgia work tirelessly to pass legislation allowing us to buy beer from a brewery last year? (Other than the fact that prohibition ended a century ago … it was time to be slightly less archaic.) I love having a beer at home – while grilling, watching the game, hanging with friends, enjoying breakfast – there is absolutely plenty of reason to visit your local package store and stock up the beer fridge at home. But what is it that creates that moth-to-the-flame attraction of visiting the local brewery? I’ll attempt to paint the picture for you …

The brewery is the US equivalent of the pub atmosphere in the UK.

Packed house at Gate City

My mom and I disagree. Now, I’ll admit that neither of us is wrong, but we disagree. Several years ago, we took a family trip to Ireland and Scotland. For a beer nerd, that’s the trip of a lifetime … sitting in the local pub, getting to know your new best friend at the seat next to you. That’s what I envision as the highlight of the trip. My mom prefers to get away from people and noise and enjoy the admittedly stunning scenery. These are two very different vacations. (And was actually able to enjoy both sides of it while there.)

But, sitting in a warm, packed pub, listening to local musicians, sipping on a pint, hearing stories from the locals … drinking in the local culture. To me, that’s the allure. But here is the point of this post … The brewery is the US equivalent of the pub atmosphere in the UK.

But why? What is it that draws us in?

Flights at Variant

  • The Vibe. We’ve talked about that in several posts (and more to follow.) It’s the warm, vibrant atmosphere that creates such a positive energy for everyone there. Hard to describe, it’s just something you feel. I think it was Martin Mull who first said, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” I would say that writing about that feeling in a brewery is like dancing about architecture.
  • You never know who you’ll sit next to. It could be someone who wants a place to read. Or maybe you sit next to a guy who works for another brewery and wants to share some of his beer with you. Or what about that time when I’m enjoying a flight at Variant with my bros and bump into a pack of guys who work at Wild Leap? (Bonus when it’s their CEO and he recognizes the blog logo on my shirt and compliments my review of their newest release!!)
  • Learning from the brewers. I love saddling up at the counter and speaking with the staff about their beer. Almost without exception, people working at breweries enjoy talking about beer. This must be the nerd in me, but I love those conversations!
  • Next level awesome vibe at Appalachian Mountain
  • And maybe the most important part … the variety of beer. Yes, you can stroll into a brewery and taste the same beer that’s in cans in your local package store. And it’s even better because it’s fresh and from the tap. That’s all well and good, but I absolutely love trying the other stuff. The one-offs, seasonals, special releases, etc. A brewery may package or distribute 3-4 flavors of beer. But they may have 15-20 on the wall at any one time. It’s a great opportunity to explore new flavors.
So, what does it for you? Why do YOU love going to a brewery?
Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

Okay … Russ digs into my very soul with this one. Gear! Shirts, hats, stickers, glasses. GEAR!! Why do we keep buying all the stuff?

I have a confession to make. I have an obscene amount of glasses from breweries and brewpubs. No, really…it’s ridiculous. My wife threatened for years to throw away any new ones I brought home, but now she is an enabler and actually has started a collection of her own. I was looking through the glasses, t-shirts, hats, stickers, bottle openers, coasters, etc… that I have, and I started wondering “why do we collect this stuff?”

The answer is easy…it’s to remember the vibe! Every glass brings back the memory of a brewery visited, the people that I enjoyed imbibing with, and the brews I got to try. Every t-shirt inevitably leads to questions from a stranger about that brewery or craft beer in general, and voila…new friends! I use coasters I pick up from every restaurant when we have friends over as they are way more interesting than regular ones and are great conversation starters. My beer fridge covered in stickers makes me smile every time I pull into the garage; adding a new one after returning from a trip is a ritual that has become one of my favorite things to do.

A small (and ever-growing) sample

The swag is not just swag. They are mementos of time spent laughing with old and new friends over the love of craft beer. They are reminders that no matter how hectic life gets or how bad the workweek is, there’s a place that has a barstool waiting for you with people that want to make sure you relax and are thankful you appreciate the time and effort they take to brew beer for their fans.

I’m pretty excited about the Beer Blogger’s Conference coming up and all there is to learn, see and taste, but I am completely stoked about the visit to Dogfish Head and the chance to see what they do and take home some swag!!

(and if anyone has any swag they want to send my way…that would be awesome!)

We have a lot of glasses …

Seriously … this isn’t even all of them

Russ Webb by Russ Webb

Second installment from Russ. If you missed the first, here ya go.

Frito Pie … a must in ABQ

If I asked you name a beer destination, you would probably throw out Denver, San Diego, Portland, Boston, Chicago or any of the other major cities that get press. Unless you have experienced the beer scene in New Mexico, it is unlikely you would put Albuquerque on that list…but you would be wrong. Named as a top 10 beer destination since 2015 by Travelocity, Albuquerque is not only a leader in breweries per capita, but also in the number of unique brewery experiences that make for an awesome “Beercation.” I’ve been fortunate enough to go a few times over the past three years and in this post, I’m going to highlight some of the standout brewery experiences, but since there are more than FIFTY in the ABQ area we can’t list them all. (seriously…50…that’s like one for every neighborhood).

Ponderosa

My first brewery visited in Albuquerque and I immediately noticed two things:
1. From wheat to bock to brown ale to stout…they covered just about every style.
2. The food on offer was super cheap, but GOOD! Unlike a lot of brewpubs, they actually had really good fare at an amazing price.

My first impression of Nexus was “is this place a brewery or a restaurant?” The answer is YES. The ‘soul food’ was good and the beer selection ranged from a cream ale to a rich porter. Unique vibe and a solid visit.

Tractor Brewing

Any brewery with the slogan “Get Plowed” is bound to be a fan favorite. I have been to two of Tractor’s four locations and the first thing I thought when I walked in was ‘this place is fun’. With a funky décor and more than 15 beers on tap, Tractor aims to please with their vibe and their style. One thing that sets Tractor apart is they believe in community and their give back program is incredible. Participating in monthly Tuesday coin giving nights where YOU get to choose which of the four nonprofit community partners receives a dollar for each beer you buy.
My fave Tractor offering is Milk Mustachio Stout, but with rotating taps that is bound to change!

Canteen Brewhouse

With so many breweries in Albuquerque you would think that the oldest ones would fade away, but that’s definitely not the case with ABQ’s oldest brewery Canteen. I was impressed by the number of people who appeared to be regulars there, and the Pecos Trail Brown Ale is such a solid choice that it’s no wonder it has won so many awards at GABF. Canteen is a must visit for anyone who wants to see where the beer scene started.

Bosque Brewing

By the time I made it Bosque, I figured I had tried the best of New Mexico beer and this was just going to be another visit to grab a quick flight and then move on…but all that changed quickly. The year-round offerings from Bosque are all very solid, but Scotia Scotch Ale is a game changer. With an ABV of 8.4%, this boozy Scotch Ale has amazing caramel notes and the maltiness is incredible. Truly my favorite New Mexico beer and I long for the day they sell it in Georgia. 

Oh, and the vibe in Bosque…outstanding. We had some awesome starters to share and they paired perfectly with a flight of their favorites. I did NOT want to leave when it was time to go!

Duel Brewing

Dark Ryder … Belgian Strong Dark

My favorite style of beer is Belgian, so when my local pal and beer tour guide Kelle told me there was a Belgian Style brewery we had to go! 

Duel aims to be different from all of the other local breweries and they definitely succeed. With a constant calendar of events and a pretty eclectic food menu, Duel’s vibe is different from the moment you walk in the door. I tried a flight and can truly say that I tasted no other beers like these when I was in Albuquerque. I had a Belgian style amber that was pretty good, but then I had their Belgian strong ale, Dark Ryder, and it was fantastic. 11%ABV and full of flavor. That one is a winner and goes well with their funky vibe.
Again, this is just a sampling of the myriad of breweries in the Albuquerque area and the list continues to grow. If you are looking for a destination for an awesome Beercation, I would recommend you add New Mexico to your list as this affordable destination offers a lot to see…and imbibe. 
Russ Webb by Russ Webb

The Brewery Vibe – Russ Webb

Innis & Gunn – Edinburgh

I am a traveler. No, seriously, I travel all of the time for both business and pleasure. Most people who travel a ton have a very particular routine. You get to the airport either ridiculously early or you run through the terminal to catch your plane like someone is trying to catch you (I’m of the latter club). Once you arrive at your destination you grab a cab or Uber, head to your hotel and figure out your next step. My planning starts a little before that when I know I’m visiting a new city I check to see what breweries are nearby, what their hours are and when I can squeeze that into my timetable.

So why do we visit breweries? We don’t go to the dairy where the milk is extracted. You can visit the Hershey plant in Pennsylvania, but not many do. Even bourbon/scotch drinkers rarely seek out every distillery around them. The answer is easy…it’s the vibe.

Sometimes they feel like the latest in hipster bars, and other times they feel like you are visiting a working factory, but almost every time you feel like you have been welcomed into the inner sanctum of beer magic and allowed to taste the secret potion at the source.

Service Brewing – Savannah

One of my favorite things about visiting breweries while on the road is getting to meet the locals that go there and chat with them about what keeps them coming back. Most times I hear folks tell me that there’s “no place else like it” and it’s “the very best beer around”. Craft breweries have done an amazing job of creating disciples from every day, ordinary beer lover like you and me. We are quick to tell outsiders about our favorite local brews, and even volunteer to go with them because, you know, who doesn’t need a guide? I will often just start chatting with the people working in the tap room and it’s not unusual for them to recommend other local breweries and I have even had them call ahead for me once to get me into one that wasn’t open on that day! The brewery vibe is special, just like the people that started the craft beer revolution and continue to foster its growth.

In a series of future posts we will be featuring these breweries so you can get an idea of what we are talking about and hopefully get out to visit one or two yourself.

Pirate Republic – Nassau, Bahamas
Canteen Brewhouse – Albuquerque

Brickway – Omaha, NE

Russ Webb by Russ Webb