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Food - The Atlanta Craft Beer Crawl

1 man, 7 bars, a little MARTA, and lots of drinking

Like all great ideas, this one came in the middle of the night. I was celebrating a finished story by also finishing a few beers and some Chinese delivery. Maybe it was the sesame chicken talking, but I began wondering how many of Atlanta's best craft beer bars I could hit in one day using only MARTA. No cabs, no long-suffering designated drivers, no 15-passenger vans, just buses and feet. Could it be done? Would someone let me write about it?

To my surprise, my editor was into it. I recruited a crawl companion, Shane, who would bring his MARTA expertise to the mission. He regularly blows my mind by showing up to various places in the city without a car. And the thing is, it shouldn't blow my mind. You always hear people — and I'm including myself here — complain about MARTA, but how many of them have really given it a chance? Not that using public transportation to safely/legally drink beer all day is some sort of noble act of civic reform. But at worst it could offer me a new perspective on the city I love, and, at best, make me a true believer in MARTA's bus system.

We decided on seven bars to visit over the course of a Saturday: Twain's Billiards and Tap, Brick Store Pub, Manuel's Tavern, Book House Pub, the Porter Beer Bar, Wrecking Bar Brewpub, and Midway Pub. Shane came up with two routes. The first started at 2:40 p.m. and allowed for around 50 minutes at each location. The other started at 12:30 p.m. and allowed for around 90 minutes at each bar. For efficiency's sake, we went with the 50-minute-per-pub route, although I'd recommend the less rushed 90-minute plan for beer lovers who'd like to attempt the crawl. Both routes end around 9 p.m.

For obvious health and logistical reasons, the list of bars we came up with is not exhaustive. There are craft-beer gems sprinkled around the Westside, Buckhead, the suburbs, and beyond. Our list of seven favors some of the city's best-stocked and beloved watering holes that are near public transportation and could be visited in a single day. That is, as long as we — or MARTA — didn't mess it up.

2:34 p.m.

Moments before our scheduled start time, Shane texts me: "Slight delay after I dropped and broke my razor and blood started shooting out of my nose." We're doing great so far.

We start off in Decatur at Twain's Billiards & Tap, an elder statesman of the local craft-beer scene in business since 1996. A massive space that features shuffleboard, arcade games, occasional live music, sports-filled televisions, and, of course, tons of pool tables, Twain's has been brewing beer in-house since 2006. Brewer David Stein revamped the establishment's beer lineup in late 2011. Following his departure in 2012 to focus on opening the highly anticipated Creature Comforts Brewing Company in Athens, Chase Medlin took over, creating a session IPA series, experimenting with new styles such as this summer's Berry Tart sour ale, and collaborating with both local (Steady Hand Pour House, Three Taverns Brewery) and national (Michigan's New Holland Brewing) companies.

Easing into what's going to be a long day, I order the Four Count Pale Ale, a crisp and delicious beer with low ABV (5.4 percent) and a citrus-hopped body ideal for casual day drinking. At the bar, 38-year-old real estate analyst "slash dude that plays in a band" Alex Brenner regales me with his most memorable Twain's experience.

"We lit Roman candles at our friend in front of the cops outside," Brenner says of one explosive July Fourth. "We were in the parking lot and we were all hammered. The cops were like, 'Hurry up,' because they had to sit there and watch us do it because it's illegal. We lit him on fire."

3:33 p.m.

You know that tiny, post-beer moment where you step out into the shocking light of broad day? That's what carries us on a cloud to Brick Store Pub a couple blocks away. I order a Night in Brussels Belgian IPA from Three Taverns Brewery, which is located right up the street, and meet Wayne Johnson, a 66-year-old retiree. He first visited the Decatur craft-beer institution on its second day of business, June 28, 1997.

"Well, her and I had three sons," he says, gesturing to the woman sitting to his left at the downstairs bar. "We're divorced now, but the boys had just gotten to the age where we could leave 'em by theirselves. We were out looking for a place, and we drove by, said, 'This place looks cool,' came in, and it was cool. Everybody was real friendly. We've been coming here ever since."

??
Everyone behind the bar knows his name. I begin to feel like it's Wayne's world and I'm just drinking in it.

Wayne says he loves the Brick Store staff, and appreciates that there's always good beer there, though he doesn't consider himself a connoisseur of the stuff. One of his sons worked in the BSP kitchen for a time. These days Wayne often rides his bike to the pub for lunch. Now that he's retired, he likes to come in early on Friday afternoons to hang with "all the old people." Thinking back over the years, memories of Halloween at the Brick Store stand out, one in particular where his sons dressed up as "Jesus and his gay lover."

"Mike Gallagher, Brick Store co-owner wouldn't give 'em first place!" Wayne says. "I guess he's a Catholic. He said, 'My mom would never forgive me.' My sons got pissed off and boycotted the place for like two months. They got over it, though."

4:27 p.m.

I'm sitting on the No. 2 bus now, two beers in. Everything's going smoothly except for the fact that I'm thinking about assaulting a MARTA employee. In my defense, the automated lady on the speakers brought it up. Turns out, you can get up to 20 years in prison for that kind of behavior, which seems fair. I can't, for the life of me, imagine why one might assault a MARTA employee. The fact that the automated lady even has to say this out loud, which seems to signify that it's happened at least once, bums me out. I also feel a little uncomfortable getting my photo taken over and over for the story while people give me the side-eye. "Yes, ma'am, people do sometimes tell me I look like that guy in The Hangover. Yes, OK, you have a nice day as well."

Over some Bell's Two Hearted Ales at Manuel's Tavern, our third stop, Shane tells me how his dad used to bring him here as a kid 25 years ago. He says it taught him about beer. He says it also taught him something about being a man, about why bars even exist in the first place.

We sit silently for a few moments as the University of Georgia's football team faces off against the South Carolina Gamecocks on a television pointed in the direction of John F. Kennedy. His painted visage looks weary, but he's smirking a little, almost like he knows the Bulldogs are going to pull this one off. Right now, it's anybody's game, though, so he presides over the bar, waiting. It occurs to me that there aren't many places like this in Atlanta where people, even relatively young ones, have decades of memories.

There's another smiling liberal in the expansive room adjacent to the main bar. It's Charles McNair, the Pulitzer Prize-nominated author who held the release party for his second book, Pickett's Charge, here Sept. 25.

"This is my de facto office," says Charles, who originally heard about Manuel's decades ago while living in Birmingham, Ala. "I've lived in the neighborhood 22 years and I've been coming here 22 years. I've been here early and often."

He visits at least a couple times a week, catching sporting events on weekend afternoons and bringing his calendar to the bar late on weeknights to plan his literary affairs. Aside from its rich history as a gathering place for Atlanta liberals, Manuel's has always been a haven for writers and journalists.

"A writer lives in isolation and works with solitude all day long," Charles says. "One is not healthy, as a writer, if you don't get out and get into some social, human activity. You just get crazy if you don't."

5:40 p.m.

We walk back to the No. 2 stop at Ponce de Leon and Highland avenues across from the Plaza Theatre, and take the bus to a relatively empty Book House Pub. I order a Rodenbach Grand Cru, a slightly tart, classic Flanders Red Ale, and survey Book House's Twin Peaks-inspired interior, its warm, book-lined wood pairing nicely with a refreshing sour ale. Book House's music seems stuck in an oddly specific time where "dance punk" was a thing that people said out loud without laughing at or hating themselves. I can't recall a time I've been there and not heard early aughts songs from bands like the Rapture and Franz Ferdinand. Not that I mind. Those songs bring back some warm memories for me.

This Saturday afternoon, though, they seem to conjure life into the bar. The place quickly fills with revelers looking to pre-game their evening's festivities. I approach a table of folks who've crafted entries for the Beltline Lantern Parade, which will start in a few hours. Lisa, a member of the Atlanta Outdoor Club who took MARTA to the bar from Buckhead, talks about how much she loves the convenience of the Beltline/Book House combination.

??
"We do all kinds of walking, bike rides, hiking, backpacking," Lisa says of the AOC. "This is right up our alley to park somewhere, take MARTA, and walk over to a bar."

7:05 p.m.

We hit a snag. Either we've missed a bus or a bus missed us. We've been standing on Ponce in front of Chipotle for more than a half-hour, watching lanterns float by on the Beltline above. The next No. 2 finally arrives to take us toward Little Five Points, and I start to let some bus-mishap irritation creep over me. We arrive at our stop and as we step out onto Moreland Avenue, a friend steps into the bus. She knows what we're up to and laughs, a moment that wouldn't have happened if all had gone according to plan. Immediately put in a better mood, we march toward the Porter Beer Bar, which is celebrating its fifth birthday.

The place is busy, but now, eight hours into the biggest day of its birthday celebration, it's subdued in a buzzed, exhausted way. Owners Molly Gunn and Nick Rutherford are sitting out front looking tired but satisfied. Gunn makes a recommendation of a beer not usually available in Georgia. I order it once inside, but five bars in, I don't have the presence of mind to write down the brewery's name amid the loud laughter, constant shuffling of patrons, and the sapped servers behind the bar. Wrecking Bar owner/brewer Bob Sandage is sitting at the bar. He and his crew from up the street have been taking shifts all day to enjoy the Porter party.

Outside away from the bustle, I sit down with Curt Dawsey, a 34-year-old beer rep for Goose Island. Years before he was a regular (and "regular" is a bit of an understatement here), he came to the Little Five Points establishment with his family, drank a couple beers while waiting for a dinner spot, but then had "a very real problem with the greeter" that resulted in them never getting a table. Dawsey wrote an honest and cutting Yelp review. Gunn reached out to him the next day to apologize and sent him a gift card. On his next visit, she showed up at his table to apologize again in person. Dawsey says that return visit was "a great experience, like I've had every time since." He started showing up around five times a week for a year or so after that, and now counts Gunn as one of his best friends.

??
8:37 p.m.

We're about an hour behind schedule when we finally walk from the Porter to Wrecking Bar. The kitchen is in the middle of a frenetic dinner service, but the bar is relatively calm. I take a break to eat the brewpub's macaroni and cheese with crispy pig ears, which is a) completely delicious, b) completely necessary after six hours of walking, talking, and craft beering, and c) yet another reminder of what great things chef Terry Koval, formerly of Farm Burger, is doing with Wrecking Bar's menu these days.

I order the Hop Noggin Imperial IPA, a stunning, West Coast-style beer with big floral and citrus notes, and a delicious example of what a gem this two-year-old brewpub is. Wrecking Bar's importance to Atlanta's beer scene cannot be overstated. The Hop Noggin goes down a little too smoothly for a 10.5 percent ABV monster. Maybe that explains why Shane has two. He hasn't eaten in hours, and gets into a spirited, meandering conversation with Jason, our photographer. Topics covered include: Elon Musk, Hanson, Jewish temples, and what was apparently, at least according to my notes, "a passionate argument about the 'granddaddy of hashtags.'" I don't even know what that means. #pray4shane

10:07 p.m.

We embark on a short walk from Wrecking Bar to the No. 107 bus, which will take us to our final destination, East Atlanta's Midway Pub. Once on the bus, relief washes over me. We did it — seven bars in one day, all using public transportation. Aside from our one hiccup after Book House (which Shane swears is the exception to the norm), our day's transportation has been easy, reliable, cool (the high today reached 90 degrees), and comfortable. Why have I avoided MARTA's buses for years? I see no reason to continue this behavior going forward.

??
My notes end around this point, not because I black out or get arrested, but because we're at Midway. Friends are waiting to greet us there, at a big table on the city's best patio, one covered with lush greenery and in a neighborhood I call home. Midway is a bar that caters to everyone — sports lovers, tattooed punks, middle-aged parents, bros with visors — and has plenty of great beer. I order a Westbrook Gose as we go over the weird adventure that was our day. Shane's gone mostly mute at this point. He abruptly departs into the night on a pizza mission.

Atlanta's craft beer culture is nascent, yes, but there's so much to look forward to. Amid my daydreaming of an even rosier future, a friend hands me her notebook in which she's written my story's modus operandi: "Austin drank beer :-)." She's teasing me, but it's true.

??



More By This Writer

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  string(4843) "Before he made beer his career, Cameron Alme considered skateboarding and bass guitar. After "reluctantly" attending Georgia State University, he still didn't know what he wanted out of life, but did know he enjoyed hanging out in local brewery tasting rooms.

Born in Roswell and raised in Marietta, Alme says his family got "out of the East Cobb suburbia as much as they could, to give us some American diversity." Perhaps unsurprisingly, he developed a travel bug, visiting the flourishing beer scenes of San Diego, Denver, Asheville and more.

Eventually, after getting fired from a sales job he hated, Alme made his way to SweetWater, where he worked for three years, half of them as taproom manager. When an assistant brewing position opened up at Orpheus Brewing this past March, he jumped at it. "I'm told that I submitted my application within minutes after they made the position public," he says. He was promoted to brewer in two months.

Creative Loafing caught up with Alme to chat about favorite beers past and present, what he's thinking about the future, and how Sept. 1 is going to change just about everything for Georgia beer makers.

Describe your first beer.

The first beer I can clearly remember enjoying was Sam Adams' Old Fezziwig Ale during the Thanksgiving holidays at 17 years old. It was sweet, rich and incredibly flavorful, which was in stark contrast to what was typically in my family's fridge. Sampling the beers from their winter variety case with my family over that long weekend left an indelible mark on my craft brew consciousness.

When did you first start thinking about making beer your living?

I tried making use of my business degree with several sales jobs, but hated every moment of peddling products or services I wasn't passionate about. My utter lack of enthusiasm inevitably translated to poor performance and I was let go from my job at the time. In hindsight, it was the best thing that could have happened. I decided to get a part-time job while looking for full-time work and wound up pouring beer and giving tours at SweetWater. My intent was that it would be temporary, but I wound up home-brewing in order to better understand and explain the brewing process to tour guests. Before I knew it, beer was in my blood. The rest is history, as they say.

What did you learn at SweetWater?

Folks like Zak Schroerlucke, now marketing for Crosby Hop Farm, taught me about the brand, brewing and packaging, but evangelized beer in an infectious way. The old line about doing what you love and never working a day in your life felt significantly less d with him. I was home-brewing nearly every week on my days off and found myself increasingly fascinated with the production side. Working with the masses in the tasting room every week slowly felt routine, and it became clear that it was time for a new challenge, to move into the back of house. As my first gig in craft beer, working for the Southeast's largest brewery was a unique experience.

What attracted you to Orpheus?

I had a keen interest in what Jason Pellett was doing since day one. In a sea of hoppy pale ales, it was refreshingly daring to see a local brewery open with a flagship tart plum saison. They weren't afraid to push the boundaries here locally and take a gamble on Atlanta's readiness for sour beer. The experience I've had has completely validated my decision to join their team.

How excited are you about Sept. 1, the day direct sales begin for Georgia breweries?

We're all stoked to see the tasting room become a major revenue generator and generally less confusing for our patrons. I'm nervous to see how the changes are welcomed by the public. There's going to be some confusion until folks forget about the whole "tour and tasting" model Georgia has followed for decades. I've typically envied the experiences had at tasting rooms across the country and it's exciting to see what's in store for a city known for hospitality. For all the talk about craft beer saturation and exploding bubbles, there's a ton of local growth to be had.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I've always been laid-back and enjoyed going with the flow. However, my experiences over the last several years have taught me the importance in being decisive and forward thinking. Perhaps I'll open a sustainable urban farm brewery with goats to manage spent grain and produce artisanal cheese. I've increasingly been fascinated by apiculture (beekeeping) and will explore that eventually. I enjoy having home-brewed beer on tap, and will continue that hobby. The craft beer landscape is continually evolving, and as much as we think we know its trajectory, it's impossible to predict. Contributing to Orpheus' continued growth is an honor, and already helping to bring my vision into finer detail."
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  string(4912) "Before he made beer his career, Cameron Alme considered skateboarding and bass guitar. After "reluctantly" attending Georgia State University, he still didn't know what he wanted out of life, but ''did'' know he enjoyed hanging out in local brewery tasting rooms.

Born in Roswell and raised in Marietta, Alme says his family got "out of the East Cobb suburbia as much as they could, to give us some American diversity." Perhaps unsurprisingly, he developed a travel bug, visiting the flourishing beer scenes of San Diego, Denver, Asheville and more.

Eventually, after getting fired from a sales job he hated, Alme made his way to SweetWater, where he worked for three years, half of them as taproom manager. When an assistant brewing position opened up at [http://www.orpheusbrewing.com/|Orpheus Brewing] this past March, he jumped at it. "I'm told that I submitted my application within minutes after they made [the position] public," he says. He was promoted to brewer in two months.

''Creative Loafing ''caught up with Alme to chat about favorite beers past and present, what he's thinking about the future, and how Sept. 1 is going to change just about everything for Georgia beer makers.

__Describe your first beer.__

The first beer I can clearly remember enjoying was Sam Adams' Old Fezziwig Ale during the Thanksgiving holidays at 17 years old. It was sweet, rich and incredibly flavorful, which was in stark contrast to what was typically in my family's fridge. Sampling the beers from their winter variety case with my family over that long weekend left an indelible mark on my craft brew consciousness.

__When did you first start thinking about making beer your living?__

I tried making use of my business degree with several sales jobs, but hated every moment of peddling products or services I wasn't passionate about. My utter lack of enthusiasm inevitably translated to poor performance and I was let go from my job at the time. In hindsight, it was the best thing that could have happened. I decided to get a part-time job while looking for full-time work and wound up pouring beer and giving tours at SweetWater. My intent was that it would be temporary, but I wound up home-brewing in order to better understand and explain the brewing process to tour guests. Before I knew it, beer was in my blood. The rest is history, as they say.

__What did you learn at SweetWater?__

Folks like Zak Schroerlucke, now marketing for Crosby Hop Farm, taught me about the brand, brewing and packaging, but evangelized beer in an infectious way. The old line about doing what you love and never working a day in your life felt significantly less d with him. I was home-brewing nearly every week on my days off and found myself increasingly fascinated with the production side. Working with the masses in the tasting room every week slowly felt routine, and it became clear that it was time for a new challenge, to move into the back of house. As my first gig in craft beer, working for the Southeast's largest brewery was a unique experience.

__What attracted you to Orpheus?__

I had a keen interest in what Jason [Pellett] was doing since day one. In a sea of hoppy pale ales, it was refreshingly daring to see a local brewery open with a flagship tart plum saison. They weren't afraid to push the boundaries here locally and take a gamble on Atlanta's readiness for sour beer. The experience I've had has completely validated my decision to join their team.

__How excited are you about Sept. 1, the day direct sales begin for Georgia breweries?__

We're all stoked to see the tasting room become a major revenue generator and generally less confusing for our patrons. I'm nervous to see how the changes are welcomed by the public. There's going to be some confusion until folks forget about the whole "tour and tasting" model Georgia has followed for decades. I've typically envied the experiences had at tasting rooms across the country and it's exciting to see what's in store for a city known for hospitality. For all the talk about craft beer saturation and exploding bubbles, there's a ton of local growth to be had.

__Where do you see yourself in five years?__

I've always been laid-back and enjoyed going with the flow. However, my experiences over the last several years have taught me the importance in being decisive and forward thinking. Perhaps I'll open a sustainable urban farm brewery with goats to manage spent grain and produce artisanal cheese. I've increasingly been fascinated by apiculture (beekeeping) and will explore that eventually. I enjoy having home-brewed beer on tap, and will continue that hobby. The craft beer landscape is continually evolving, and as much as we think we know its trajectory, it's impossible to predict. Contributing to Orpheus' continued growth is an honor, and already helping to bring my vision into finer detail."
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  string(5239) " Firsdraft1 1 02.599c5fb67a666  2018-05-16T17:45:14+00:00 Firsdraft1_1_02.599c5fb67a666.jpg      5642  2017-08-22T20:45:00+00:00 First Draft with Cameron Alme clint@thenetworkedplanet.com Clint Bergst Austin L. Ray  2017-08-22T20:45:00+00:00  Before he made beer his career, Cameron Alme considered skateboarding and bass guitar. After "reluctantly" attending Georgia State University, he still didn't know what he wanted out of life, but did know he enjoyed hanging out in local brewery tasting rooms.

Born in Roswell and raised in Marietta, Alme says his family got "out of the East Cobb suburbia as much as they could, to give us some American diversity." Perhaps unsurprisingly, he developed a travel bug, visiting the flourishing beer scenes of San Diego, Denver, Asheville and more.

Eventually, after getting fired from a sales job he hated, Alme made his way to SweetWater, where he worked for three years, half of them as taproom manager. When an assistant brewing position opened up at Orpheus Brewing this past March, he jumped at it. "I'm told that I submitted my application within minutes after they made the position public," he says. He was promoted to brewer in two months.

Creative Loafing caught up with Alme to chat about favorite beers past and present, what he's thinking about the future, and how Sept. 1 is going to change just about everything for Georgia beer makers.

Describe your first beer.

The first beer I can clearly remember enjoying was Sam Adams' Old Fezziwig Ale during the Thanksgiving holidays at 17 years old. It was sweet, rich and incredibly flavorful, which was in stark contrast to what was typically in my family's fridge. Sampling the beers from their winter variety case with my family over that long weekend left an indelible mark on my craft brew consciousness.

When did you first start thinking about making beer your living?

I tried making use of my business degree with several sales jobs, but hated every moment of peddling products or services I wasn't passionate about. My utter lack of enthusiasm inevitably translated to poor performance and I was let go from my job at the time. In hindsight, it was the best thing that could have happened. I decided to get a part-time job while looking for full-time work and wound up pouring beer and giving tours at SweetWater. My intent was that it would be temporary, but I wound up home-brewing in order to better understand and explain the brewing process to tour guests. Before I knew it, beer was in my blood. The rest is history, as they say.

What did you learn at SweetWater?

Folks like Zak Schroerlucke, now marketing for Crosby Hop Farm, taught me about the brand, brewing and packaging, but evangelized beer in an infectious way. The old line about doing what you love and never working a day in your life felt significantly less d with him. I was home-brewing nearly every week on my days off and found myself increasingly fascinated with the production side. Working with the masses in the tasting room every week slowly felt routine, and it became clear that it was time for a new challenge, to move into the back of house. As my first gig in craft beer, working for the Southeast's largest brewery was a unique experience.

What attracted you to Orpheus?

I had a keen interest in what Jason Pellett was doing since day one. In a sea of hoppy pale ales, it was refreshingly daring to see a local brewery open with a flagship tart plum saison. They weren't afraid to push the boundaries here locally and take a gamble on Atlanta's readiness for sour beer. The experience I've had has completely validated my decision to join their team.

How excited are you about Sept. 1, the day direct sales begin for Georgia breweries?

We're all stoked to see the tasting room become a major revenue generator and generally less confusing for our patrons. I'm nervous to see how the changes are welcomed by the public. There's going to be some confusion until folks forget about the whole "tour and tasting" model Georgia has followed for decades. I've typically envied the experiences had at tasting rooms across the country and it's exciting to see what's in store for a city known for hospitality. For all the talk about craft beer saturation and exploding bubbles, there's a ton of local growth to be had.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I've always been laid-back and enjoyed going with the flow. However, my experiences over the last several years have taught me the importance in being decisive and forward thinking. Perhaps I'll open a sustainable urban farm brewery with goats to manage spent grain and produce artisanal cheese. I've increasingly been fascinated by apiculture (beekeeping) and will explore that eventually. I enjoy having home-brewed beer on tap, and will continue that hobby. The craft beer landscape is continually evolving, and as much as we think we know its trajectory, it's impossible to predict. Contributing to Orpheus' continued growth is an honor, and already helping to bring my vision into finer detail.    Joeff Davis LOVE WHAT YOU DO: Cameron Alme at Orpheus Brewing in Morningside        20973265                           First Draft with Cameron Alme "
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Tuesday August 22, 2017 04:45 pm EDT

Before he made beer his career, Cameron Alme considered skateboarding and bass guitar. After "reluctantly" attending Georgia State University, he still didn't know what he wanted out of life, but did know he enjoyed hanging out in local brewery tasting rooms.

Born in Roswell and raised in Marietta, Alme says his family got "out of the East Cobb suburbia as much as they could, to give us some...

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To celebrate American Craft Beer Week, Brick Store will feature a lineup of standards and rarities from Three Taverns in Decatur and Brouwers Verzet in Belgium b the latter was started by Three Taverns brewmaster Joran Van Ginderachter.Brew at the ZooWhen: Sat., May 27Where: Zoo AtlantaPrice: $45-$100An evening at the zoo will include more than 70 different types of beer, wine, keeper talks and animal demos with some of the zoobs 1,000 nonhuman residents. Live music will come from local bands the Geeks, 8 Second Ride, RTW and Brad Jackson.B "
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Wednesday May 10, 2017 10:00 am EDT
The High Gravity Hip Hop founder seeks to bridge the divide between hip-hop and craft breweries | more...
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Spread across two sessions on this Saturday afternoon, the Secret Stash Bash offers “rare beers from the secret collections of 24 breweries.” It’s one of the best beer festivals in Georgia."
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  string(4557) "%{[ data-embed-type="image" data-embed-id="58af63e539ab4654774d61ee" data-embed-element="span" data-embed-size="640w" contenteditable="false" ]}%Carey Charles is about as involved in Georgia beer as one can be. For eight years now, he’s been a member of Atlanta’s oldest homebrew club, Covert Hops (including two years as treasurer). He’s worked on the retail side at Ale Yeah! and Hop City. He spent some time at Atlanta Beverage Company — or, as he puts it, “almost got eaten alive in the jungle of distribution.” Most recently, he completed his three-tier system hat trick, landing at Second Self Beer as official “beer peddler.” It’s a rare thing to see the industry from all sides like that, so ''Creative Loafing'' picked Charles’s brain a bit to find out what he’s learned and where he thinks the Peach State’s beer scene is heading next.__Describe your first beer.__It all started as a kid with a sip of my dad's Miller Lite, which I found disgusting at the time! That's probably why I didn't really start drinking until I was in college. Usually cheap stuff like Natty Light, Bud Light/Ice, etc. at weekend dorm room and house parties.__You’re one of those rare beer industry unicorns that’s worked in all three tiers — manufacturing, retail, and distribution. What are a couple of your biggest takeaways seeing craft beer from all sides?__I’ve seen Cantillon go from gathering dust on the shelves to a beer that some people might sell their child to get. I was able to have a very small hand in helping some great brewers get their breweries started. I've dropped kegs onto my hands. Loaded down a Ford Focus hatchback with six 15.5-gallon kegs and hoped I didn't have to make any sudden stops. I've had beer buyers turn and run when they see me coming with free beer for them to drink. But the main thing I learned is that all sides have to work together for the process to function. The relationship is very much like a family: you may not always like each other, but you always have to work together. The other thing I've learned is communication. I'm still not great at it, but communicating with everyone is key to getting the right product to the right people at the right time.  __Second Self is settling into its third year as a brewery, which is when a lot of breweries really start finding their voice. What are you guys bringing to the table that no other breweries in the Peach State are?__We literally bring food and beer to the table, and use a lot of culinary ingredients in our beers. A couple of examples are the fresh ginger, lemongrass, and galangal in our best-selling Thai Wheat, and the hand-foraged serviceberries in our Farmer's Fund Saison. Jason Santamaria, our dear co-leader, comes from a family restaurant background, had a catering company in college, and has family still in the restaurant business, which influences the flavors in our beers.__A bill is currently working its way through the Georgia legislature that would allow breweries some limited direct sales. It’s a fight that’s been in the works for years, but if it makes it through, what’s the next change you’d like to see for breweries?__I'm sure your readers would love for me to say “self distribution!" But, really, with the [potential] passage of SB85, I really don't know what's next. This bill will allow us to keep some money in the brewery to expand our offerings both onsite and out into the rest of the beer-drinking world. With this expanded access, we'll have to hire more tasting room staff. As y'all drink more of the beer, we'll have to hire more folks to make the beer and more people to get out and help sell the beer. All leading to me having a nice, cushy office job. So, I'm pretty happy with what's coming very soon.BEER EVENTS[http://www.wreckingbarbrewpub.com|__Cinco de Siberius__]__When:__ Sun., March 5, 7 p.m.__Where:__ Wrecking Bar Brewpub__Price:__ Depends how much you drinkOn the fifth of every month, Wrecking Bar taps its delicious Mexican Siberius Maximus, a Russian Imperial Stout barrel aged with peppers, cinnamon bark, cocoa nibs, and vanilla beans. The tastings have become the stuff of legend.[https://www.facebook.com/events/568388823358369/|__Secret Stash Bash__]__When:__ Sat., March 11, 1-7 p.m.__Where:__ Taco Mac Prado__Price:__ $40
                                   

Spread across two sessions on this Saturday afternoon, the Secret Stash Bash offers “rare beers from the secret collections of 24 breweries.” It’s one of the best beer festivals in Georgia."
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  string(4794) "    The Second Self beer peddler and industry jack-of-all-trades talks past, present and future   2017-02-27T22:00:00+00:00 First Draft with Carey Charles   Austin L. Ray  2017-02-27T22:00:00+00:00  %{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2258af63e539ab4654774d61ee%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}%Carey Charles is about as involved in Georgia beer as one can be. For eight years now, he’s been a member of Atlanta’s oldest homebrew club, Covert Hops (including two years as treasurer). He’s worked on the retail side at Ale Yeah! and Hop City. He spent some time at Atlanta Beverage Company — or, as he puts it, “almost got eaten alive in the jungle of distribution.” Most recently, he completed his three-tier system hat trick, landing at Second Self Beer as official “beer peddler.” It’s a rare thing to see the industry from all sides like that, so Creative Loafing picked Charles’s brain a bit to find out what he’s learned and where he thinks the Peach State’s beer scene is heading next.Describe your first beer.It all started as a kid with a sip of my dad's Miller Lite, which I found disgusting at the time! That's probably why I didn't really start drinking until I was in college. Usually cheap stuff like Natty Light, Bud Light/Ice, etc. at weekend dorm room and house parties.You’re one of those rare beer industry unicorns that’s worked in all three tiers — manufacturing, retail, and distribution. What are a couple of your biggest takeaways seeing craft beer from all sides?I’ve seen Cantillon go from gathering dust on the shelves to a beer that some people might sell their child to get. I was able to have a very small hand in helping some great brewers get their breweries started. I've dropped kegs onto my hands. Loaded down a Ford Focus hatchback with six 15.5-gallon kegs and hoped I didn't have to make any sudden stops. I've had beer buyers turn and run when they see me coming with free beer for them to drink. But the main thing I learned is that all sides have to work together for the process to function. The relationship is very much like a family: you may not always like each other, but you always have to work together. The other thing I've learned is communication. I'm still not great at it, but communicating with everyone is key to getting the right product to the right people at the right time.  Second Self is settling into its third year as a brewery, which is when a lot of breweries really start finding their voice. What are you guys bringing to the table that no other breweries in the Peach State are?We literally bring food and beer to the table, and use a lot of culinary ingredients in our beers. A couple of examples are the fresh ginger, lemongrass, and galangal in our best-selling Thai Wheat, and the hand-foraged serviceberries in our Farmer's Fund Saison. Jason Santamaria, our dear co-leader, comes from a family restaurant background, had a catering company in college, and has family still in the restaurant business, which influences the flavors in our beers.A bill is currently working its way through the Georgia legislature that would allow breweries some limited direct sales. It’s a fight that’s been in the works for years, but if it makes it through, what’s the next change you’d like to see for breweries?I'm sure your readers would love for me to say “self distribution!" But, really, with the potential passage of SB85, I really don't know what's next. This bill will allow us to keep some money in the brewery to expand our offerings both onsite and out into the rest of the beer-drinking world. With this expanded access, we'll have to hire more tasting room staff. As y'all drink more of the beer, we'll have to hire more folks to make the beer and more people to get out and help sell the beer. All leading to me having a nice, cushy office job. So, I'm pretty happy with what's coming very soon.BEER EVENTSCinco de SiberiusWhen: Sun., March 5, 7 p.m.Where: Wrecking Bar BrewpubPrice: Depends how much you drinkOn the fifth of every month, Wrecking Bar taps its delicious Mexican Siberius Maximus, a Russian Imperial Stout barrel aged with peppers, cinnamon bark, cocoa nibs, and vanilla beans. The tastings have become the stuff of legend.Secret Stash BashWhen: Sat., March 11, 1-7 p.m.Where: Taco Mac PradoPrice: $40
                                   

Spread across two sessions on this Saturday afternoon, the Secret Stash Bash offers “rare beers from the secret collections of 24 breweries.” It’s one of the best beer festivals in Georgia.             20853158         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2017/02/food_firstdraft1_1_45.58af63e243081.png                  First Draft with Carey Charles "
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Monday February 27, 2017 05:00 pm EST
The Second Self beer peddler and industry jack-of-all-trades talks past, present and future | more...
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  string(31) "First Draft with Nathan Berrong"
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  string(100) "Three Taverns' brand cultivator talks turning points, drinking games, and putting sour beers in cans"
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  string(100) "Three Taverns' brand cultivator talks turning points, drinking games, and putting sour beers in cans"
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  string(4580) "%{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%22587fe0d439ab46db5f2a2c13%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22320w%22 data-embed-align=%22left%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}%Before Nathan Berrong was helping direct the brand of one of Georgia’s most exciting breweries, he grew up in Conyers, studied communications and journalism at Liberty University, dabbled in music, and spent some time teaching English in Honduras.

“It wasn’t a great experience,” Berrong says of the latter over an Amulet IPA in Three Taverns Craft Brewery’s taproom in Decatur. “I barely knew Spanish and didn’t know anyone there. I felt like I was going insane.”When he returned Stateside, he handed off his resumé to Turner Broadcasting’s temp agency, ended up temping as a tour guide at CNN for a week, then got hired on full time. He’d spend 10 years with the organization, producing live shots in the field and eventually writing about beer for CNN’s food blog, Eatocracy.Along the way, he befriended Brick Store Pub co-founder Dave Blanchard, who would introduce him to a homebrewer named Brian Purcell. That homebrewer went on to open Three Taverns in Decatur and hire Berrong in 2013. Berrong quit after little more than a year with the company, but eventually found his way back. Creative Loafing sat down with the 36-year-old “brand cultivator” to talk drinking games, loving what you do, and putting sour beers in cans.Describe your first beer.I think it was a Miller Lite. In seventh or eighth grade, I was at a party with my sister, who was older, and her friends. She didn’t give it to me, but she knew what was going on. That was one of the first times. And then me and my friend John used to get into trouble with all kinds of substances in his basement. His parents had vermouth, and we had no idea what it was. He had found a drinking game and we poured equal parts Coke and vermouth into these big, 64-ounce QuikTrip cups. It was terrible. But we were both drinking it like, “This is really good!”What was your beer turning point before you started writing about it for CNN?Not long after I met my future wife, she bought me a subscription to BeerAdvocate. Going down that road of being nerdy, I started trading for beer online and doing that stuff. That’s when I realized I wanted it to be more than a hobby. Me and one of my friends started a blog, which is still online. It’s terrible. I’m not gonna tell you the name of it because you can still see it.It’s interesting that you worked for Three Taverns, left, and then came back. There were only four of us when we started. Four people starting a brewery of this size was a huge undertaking. I was bottling some days, taping up boxes, running around town doing sales, working in the tasting room at night, doing anything that needed to be done. I just got burnt out. So I applied for a job on a whim and got it. I was still in contact with the brewery, though. Brian would call me and ask me what I thought of things. When they lost a salesperson, I texted Joran Van Ginderarcter, Three Taverns’ head brewer mostly as a joke, saying that I almost applied for the job because I missed the brewery. He told me I should apply, but I told him I didn’t want to do sales. But then he asked me, “So, you’d be willing to come back?” And after that, Brian reached out, pitching a job to me.What changed in the time you were gone?From day one, I wanted us to do sours. But at the time, Brian wasn’t really into them himself. And right away, I wanted to do cans. This was in 2013. But again, Brian has more of an old-school approach where he thought Belgian beers should be in bottles. So sours and cans were things I wanted to do. They started doing sours a little after I left, and then, when Brian called me, he said, “Hey, we just ordered a canning line. You were right about sours, and I was wrong. You were right about cans, and I was wrong. I’m tired of being wrong about stuff. Would you wanna think about coming back to the brewery?”Atlanta Winter BeerfestWhen: Sat., Feb. 4, 1-6 p.m.Where: Atlantic StationPrice: $40-$55Atlanta Winter Beerfest's sixth annual event is taking over Atlantic Station with over 150 beers, wine, and cider. The ticket price includes entry, a souvenir cup, entertainment, and all the drinks you can drink.
One-Off Wednesday

When: Every Wednesday, 5-8 p.m.Where: Red Brick Brewing Co.Price: Tours start at $12
                                         

Each week on Wednesday, Red Brick brewers serve up a taproom-only selection."
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“It wasn’t a great experience,” Berrong says of the latter over an Amulet IPA in Three Taverns Craft Brewery’s taproom in Decatur. “I barely knew Spanish and didn’t know anyone there. I felt like I was going insane.”When he returned Stateside, he handed off his resumé to Turner Broadcasting’s temp agency, ended up temping as a tour guide at CNN for a week, then got hired on full time. He’d spend 10 years with the organization, producing live shots in the field and eventually writing about beer for CNN’s food blog, Eatocracy.Along the way, he befriended Brick Store Pub co-founder Dave Blanchard, who would introduce him to a homebrewer named Brian Purcell. That homebrewer went on to open Three Taverns in Decatur and hire Berrong in 2013. Berrong quit after little more than a year with the company, but eventually found his way back. ''Creative Loafing ''sat down with the 36-year-old “brand cultivator” to talk drinking games, loving what you do, and putting sour beers in cans.__Describe your first beer.__I think it was a Miller Lite. In seventh or eighth grade, I was at a party with my sister, who was older, and her friends. She didn’t give it to me, but she knew what was going on. That was one of the first times. And then me and my friend John used to get into trouble with all kinds of substances in his basement. His parents had vermouth, and we had no idea what it was. He had found a drinking game and we poured equal parts Coke and vermouth into these big, 64-ounce QuikTrip cups. It was ''terrible''. But we were both drinking it like, “This is really good!”__What was your beer turning point before you started writing about it for CNN?__Not long after I met [my future wife], she bought me a subscription to ''BeerAdvocate''. Going down that road of being nerdy, I started trading for beer online and doing that stuff. That’s when I realized I wanted it to be more than a hobby. Me and one of my friends started [a blog], which is still online. It’s terrible. I’m not gonna tell you the name of it because you can still see it.__It’s interesting that you worked for Three Taverns, left, and then came back. __There were only four of us when we started. Four people starting a brewery of this size was a huge undertaking. I was bottling some days, taping up boxes, running around town doing sales, working in the tasting room at night, doing anything that needed to be done. I just got burnt out. So I applied for a job on a whim and got it. I was still in contact with the brewery, though. Brian would call me and ask me what I thought of things. When they lost a salesperson, I texted Joran [Van Ginderarcter, Three Taverns’ head brewer] ''mostly'' as a joke, saying that I almost applied for [the job] because I missed the brewery. He told me I should apply, but I told him I didn’t want to do sales. But then he asked me, “So, you’d be willing to come back?” And after that, Brian reached out, pitching a job to me.__What changed in the time you were gone?__From day one, I wanted us to do sours. But at the time, Brian wasn’t really into them himself. And right away, I wanted to do cans. This was in 2013. But again, Brian has more of an old-school approach where he thought Belgian beers should be in bottles. So sours and cans were things I wanted to do. They started doing sours a little after I left, and then, when Brian called me, he said, “Hey, we just ordered a canning line. You were right about sours, and I was wrong. You were right about cans, and I was wrong. I’m tired of being wrong about stuff. Would you wanna think about coming back to the brewery?”__[http://atlantawinterbeerfest.com/event-details/|Atlanta Winter Beerfest]____When:__ Sat., Feb. 4, 1-6 p.m.__Where:__ Atlantic Station__Price:__ $40-$55Atlanta Winter Beerfest's sixth annual event is taking over Atlantic Station with over 150 beers, wine, and cider. The ticket price includes entry, a souvenir cup, entertainment, and all the drinks you can drink.
__[http://www.redbrickbrewing.com|One-Off Wednesday]__

__When:__ Every Wednesday, 5-8 p.m.__Where:__ Red Brick Brewing Co.__Price:__ Tours start at $12
                                         

Each week on Wednesday, Red Brick brewers serve up a taproom-only selection."
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  string(4949) "    Three Taverns' brand cultivator talks turning points, drinking games, and putting sour beers in cans   2017-01-26T23:00:00+00:00 First Draft with Nathan Berrong   Austin L. Ray  2017-01-26T23:00:00+00:00  %{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%22587fe0d439ab46db5f2a2c13%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22320w%22 data-embed-align=%22left%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}%Before Nathan Berrong was helping direct the brand of one of Georgia’s most exciting breweries, he grew up in Conyers, studied communications and journalism at Liberty University, dabbled in music, and spent some time teaching English in Honduras.

“It wasn’t a great experience,” Berrong says of the latter over an Amulet IPA in Three Taverns Craft Brewery’s taproom in Decatur. “I barely knew Spanish and didn’t know anyone there. I felt like I was going insane.”When he returned Stateside, he handed off his resumé to Turner Broadcasting’s temp agency, ended up temping as a tour guide at CNN for a week, then got hired on full time. He’d spend 10 years with the organization, producing live shots in the field and eventually writing about beer for CNN’s food blog, Eatocracy.Along the way, he befriended Brick Store Pub co-founder Dave Blanchard, who would introduce him to a homebrewer named Brian Purcell. That homebrewer went on to open Three Taverns in Decatur and hire Berrong in 2013. Berrong quit after little more than a year with the company, but eventually found his way back. Creative Loafing sat down with the 36-year-old “brand cultivator” to talk drinking games, loving what you do, and putting sour beers in cans.Describe your first beer.I think it was a Miller Lite. In seventh or eighth grade, I was at a party with my sister, who was older, and her friends. She didn’t give it to me, but she knew what was going on. That was one of the first times. And then me and my friend John used to get into trouble with all kinds of substances in his basement. His parents had vermouth, and we had no idea what it was. He had found a drinking game and we poured equal parts Coke and vermouth into these big, 64-ounce QuikTrip cups. It was terrible. But we were both drinking it like, “This is really good!”What was your beer turning point before you started writing about it for CNN?Not long after I met my future wife, she bought me a subscription to BeerAdvocate. Going down that road of being nerdy, I started trading for beer online and doing that stuff. That’s when I realized I wanted it to be more than a hobby. Me and one of my friends started a blog, which is still online. It’s terrible. I’m not gonna tell you the name of it because you can still see it.It’s interesting that you worked for Three Taverns, left, and then came back. There were only four of us when we started. Four people starting a brewery of this size was a huge undertaking. I was bottling some days, taping up boxes, running around town doing sales, working in the tasting room at night, doing anything that needed to be done. I just got burnt out. So I applied for a job on a whim and got it. I was still in contact with the brewery, though. Brian would call me and ask me what I thought of things. When they lost a salesperson, I texted Joran Van Ginderarcter, Three Taverns’ head brewer mostly as a joke, saying that I almost applied for the job because I missed the brewery. He told me I should apply, but I told him I didn’t want to do sales. But then he asked me, “So, you’d be willing to come back?” And after that, Brian reached out, pitching a job to me.What changed in the time you were gone?From day one, I wanted us to do sours. But at the time, Brian wasn’t really into them himself. And right away, I wanted to do cans. This was in 2013. But again, Brian has more of an old-school approach where he thought Belgian beers should be in bottles. So sours and cans were things I wanted to do. They started doing sours a little after I left, and then, when Brian called me, he said, “Hey, we just ordered a canning line. You were right about sours, and I was wrong. You were right about cans, and I was wrong. I’m tired of being wrong about stuff. Would you wanna think about coming back to the brewery?”Atlanta Winter BeerfestWhen: Sat., Feb. 4, 1-6 p.m.Where: Atlantic StationPrice: $40-$55Atlanta Winter Beerfest's sixth annual event is taking over Atlantic Station with over 150 beers, wine, and cider. The ticket price includes entry, a souvenir cup, entertainment, and all the drinks you can drink.
One-Off Wednesday

When: Every Wednesday, 5-8 p.m.Where: Red Brick Brewing Co.Price: Tours start at $12
                                         

Each week on Wednesday, Red Brick brewers serve up a taproom-only selection.             20848951         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2017/01/Firstdraft_1_1_40.588117dbc8951.png                  First Draft with Nathan Berrong "
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Thursday January 26, 2017 06:00 pm EST
Three Taverns' brand cultivator talks turning points, drinking games, and putting sour beers in cans | more...
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  string(4551) "%{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%22583b31686cdeea5b7d7cb4f4%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}%Dan Fontaine was born in Alabama, but Atlanta is where he came of age. After playing baseball and earning a bachelors in business management from Auburn, he moved to Atlanta and started doing stand-up comedy. Here, he fell in love with SweetWater 420 and the woman who would one day become his wife.“I love this city,” he says. “It’s where I really started to learn about myself. It’s hard to imagine being anywhere else.”Fontaine has bounced around jobs over the years, including a stint as promotions coordinator for The Onion in New York City. But as he started giving brewery tours (he co-ran the company Atlanta Beer Tours with a friend for a time), and doing a beer podcast (“BeerPop!”, which is currently on hiatus), and just generally obsessing over all things beer, he realized that he should be doing this stuff for a living. As it turns out, it was simple as checking Facebook, where he saw a job posting for a Guinness Brewery Ambassador. Today, just nine months into the gig, Fontaine focuses mostly on training and education at bars, restaurants, and with local distributors, and holds tasting events throughout the Southeast. Creative Loafing caught up with him to see how it’s going and what he hopes for the future of beer — the kind made in Ireland and Georgia.Describe your first beer.I don’t remember exactly but I have a vague memory of being a kid, say eight or nine, and sneaking a sip of a Miller Lite. I remember how cold it was, the lively carbonation, and how strange it tasted. Like a really weird soda. I kinda liked it. I don’t drink a lot of American light lagers these days but I really appreciate it when I do because that taste always brings me back to that memory. That’s one of the amazing things about beer, how aromas and tastes can really spark memories of times and flavors from your past.The tours, the podcasts — they all seem like stepping stones to making beer your life.Yeah, I was always doing something else completely unrelated but definitely had an interest in brewing, pub culture, and exploring new styles and brewing regions of the world. With Atlanta Beer Tours, my partner Aaron and I really just wanted to share Atlanta’s growing beer scene with other people. I’m no longer involved, but he’s doing a great job continuing that mission. Our podcast, “BeerPop!”, which is returning soon, was just an extension of our interest in beer. But yes, there was always that far-off goal of “working in beer.”How did the Guinness gig come about?I saw a link to the Guinness Brewery Ambassador position on Facebook and it seemed like a great fit. Two of the main requirements were someone who was passionate and knowledgeable about beer, and being comfortable speaking to large audiences. My background in beer tours and stand-up were a perfect foundation for this job. I’ve talked to thousands of people who really only know about Guinness Draught and are excited when they realize that we’re experimenting with different styles, updating old recipes, and bringing those beers to market.What do you hope for the future of Georgia beer?I hope we continue to see a rise in bootstrapped, mom-and-pop businesses that don’t worry so much about expansions or exit strategies. I would love for every neighborhood in the city to have a small brewery making great beer, or a 30-seat, nano-brewpub pouring world class brew with five menu items that blow people away, or a market that’s focused on beer and food pairings that can really push that niche forward. Anything that can be an asset to the community, be great at what they do, and educate beer lovers, that’s what I want to be a part of.BEER EVENTSCinco de SiberiusWhen: Mon., Dec. 5, 7 p.m.Where: Wrecking Bar Brewpub, 292 Moreland Ave. N.E.On the fifth of every month, Wrecking Bar taps its delicious Mexican Siberius Maximus, a Russian imperial stout barrel-aged with peppers, cinnamon bark, cocoa nibs, and vanilla beans. The tastings have become the stuff of local beer legend.Cherry Street Brewing’s 4th AnniversaryWhen: Sat., Dec. 10Where: Cherry Street Brewing Cooperative, 5817 S. Vickery St., Cumming
                                       

The Cumming brewpub will celebrate four years by debuting new beers all week, culminating in live music, t-shirt sales and to-go bottles on Saturday. Use it as an excuse to Uber OTP for once."
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The Cumming brewpub will celebrate four years by debuting new beers all week, culminating in live music, t-shirt sales and to-go bottles on Saturday. Use it as an excuse to Uber OTP for once."
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  string(4918) "    The Southeast's Guinness Brewery Ambassador talks dream jobs, podcasts, and the future of Georgia beer   2016-11-30T21:00:00+00:00 First Draft with Dan Fontaine   Austin L. Ray  2016-11-30T21:00:00+00:00  %{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%22583b31686cdeea5b7d7cb4f4%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}%Dan Fontaine was born in Alabama, but Atlanta is where he came of age. After playing baseball and earning a bachelors in business management from Auburn, he moved to Atlanta and started doing stand-up comedy. Here, he fell in love with SweetWater 420 and the woman who would one day become his wife.“I love this city,” he says. “It’s where I really started to learn about myself. It’s hard to imagine being anywhere else.”Fontaine has bounced around jobs over the years, including a stint as promotions coordinator for The Onion in New York City. But as he started giving brewery tours (he co-ran the company Atlanta Beer Tours with a friend for a time), and doing a beer podcast (“BeerPop!”, which is currently on hiatus), and just generally obsessing over all things beer, he realized that he should be doing this stuff for a living. As it turns out, it was simple as checking Facebook, where he saw a job posting for a Guinness Brewery Ambassador. Today, just nine months into the gig, Fontaine focuses mostly on training and education at bars, restaurants, and with local distributors, and holds tasting events throughout the Southeast. Creative Loafing caught up with him to see how it’s going and what he hopes for the future of beer — the kind made in Ireland and Georgia.Describe your first beer.I don’t remember exactly but I have a vague memory of being a kid, say eight or nine, and sneaking a sip of a Miller Lite. I remember how cold it was, the lively carbonation, and how strange it tasted. Like a really weird soda. I kinda liked it. I don’t drink a lot of American light lagers these days but I really appreciate it when I do because that taste always brings me back to that memory. That’s one of the amazing things about beer, how aromas and tastes can really spark memories of times and flavors from your past.The tours, the podcasts — they all seem like stepping stones to making beer your life.Yeah, I was always doing something else completely unrelated but definitely had an interest in brewing, pub culture, and exploring new styles and brewing regions of the world. With Atlanta Beer Tours, my partner Aaron and I really just wanted to share Atlanta’s growing beer scene with other people. I’m no longer involved, but he’s doing a great job continuing that mission. Our podcast, “BeerPop!”, which is returning soon, was just an extension of our interest in beer. But yes, there was always that far-off goal of “working in beer.”How did the Guinness gig come about?I saw a link to the Guinness Brewery Ambassador position on Facebook and it seemed like a great fit. Two of the main requirements were someone who was passionate and knowledgeable about beer, and being comfortable speaking to large audiences. My background in beer tours and stand-up were a perfect foundation for this job. I’ve talked to thousands of people who really only know about Guinness Draught and are excited when they realize that we’re experimenting with different styles, updating old recipes, and bringing those beers to market.What do you hope for the future of Georgia beer?I hope we continue to see a rise in bootstrapped, mom-and-pop businesses that don’t worry so much about expansions or exit strategies. I would love for every neighborhood in the city to have a small brewery making great beer, or a 30-seat, nano-brewpub pouring world class brew with five menu items that blow people away, or a market that’s focused on beer and food pairings that can really push that niche forward. Anything that can be an asset to the community, be great at what they do, and educate beer lovers, that’s what I want to be a part of.BEER EVENTSCinco de SiberiusWhen: Mon., Dec. 5, 7 p.m.Where: Wrecking Bar Brewpub, 292 Moreland Ave. N.E.On the fifth of every month, Wrecking Bar taps its delicious Mexican Siberius Maximus, a Russian imperial stout barrel-aged with peppers, cinnamon bark, cocoa nibs, and vanilla beans. The tastings have become the stuff of local beer legend.Cherry Street Brewing’s 4th AnniversaryWhen: Sat., Dec. 10Where: Cherry Street Brewing Cooperative, 5817 S. Vickery St., Cumming
                                       

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Wednesday November 30, 2016 04:00 pm EST
The Southeast's Guinness Brewery Ambassador talks dream jobs, podcasts, and the future of Georgia beer | more...
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