“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