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Art at the edges of the Inman Park Festival 2011 (2)

Inman Park Festival 2011

Image



More than 150 artists and craft makers will be part of the Inman Park Festival's massive street market this weekend. In between the world-record-breaking Gnome March and the totally sweet Tour of Homes, you'll be able to peruse R Land's "Pray for ATL" stuff, Mike Snowden's guitars, and some "Visionary Glass." You could get that painting of a blue cat that you never knew you wanted. Check out a full list of the vendors.

Just outside the edges of the festival, though, a number of galleries will have their doors open to public during the festival on Saturday. Check out our list of exhibitions not to miss after the jump.



More By This Writer

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  ["title"]=>
  string(57) "Summer Guide - How to drink at six breweries in four days"
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  string(15537) "Think about beer. Go ahead, just think about it. Think about your favorite beer being poured into a glass vessel at the right, chilly temperature. You may notice the aroma first or, perhaps, the way sunlight reflects through the liquid's golden color. Think about the first sip, the touch of frothy head and rush of effervescence, the flavor balanced between sweet and bitter notes. Now, look up. You're in the brewery where this beer was brewed. Bags of grain are piled in the corner and bottles are stacked in another. In front of you, a stainless steel tank holds thousands of gallons of this precious liquid. You can hear the light gurgle of liquid fermentation. This is a transcendent experience, one that you will measure all other experiences of drinking beer against. You have tasted the fruit off the vine.

That's the fantasy I had about visiting a brewery. Until recently, I had never visited one, which should be an embarrassing thing for any Atlantan to admit. To say that you live in Atlanta and have not visited one of the many fine establishments brewing beer in Atlanta is like saying you haven't been to a game at Turner Field. It is fun and cheap and simply something that you, as a local drinking citizen, should do and have done. (Sober people, consider yourselves exempt from my judgment.) The number of breweries in the metro area keeps rising, too. By the end of the year, you won't be able to throw a rock at a warehouse in Metro Atlanta without hitting a bottle of Belgian-style doppelbock. In an effort to correct my embarrassing lapse in experience, I suggested to my editor that I research a survey of local brewery tours over the course of a long weekend. That's a nice way of saying I convinced my employer to pay for me to get shit-housed four days in a row. If you have a similarly generous employer, I suggest you do the same this summer.

You must know that you can't just walk into a brewery in Georgia at any given time and pay for your pint like any old pub. Owing to a bizarrely specific set of regulations set by the Georgia Department of Revenue, attending a brewery tour in Georgia is like performing a complicated mating ritual specific only to the indigenous beer drinkers and brewers of our region. Most importantly, the brewery is not actually allowed to sell beer. It can (and does) sell soap made from beer, dog treats made from beer, beer branded cozies, specially shaped bottle openers, T-shirts with Grateful Dead references, Frisbees with foil-stamped beer logos, and commemorative pint glasses into which a brewer may pour many free samples of beer. Remember, the beer is the part they're not allowed to sell, so you can ask for a free plastic cup into which your free sample of beer will be poured. You may bear in mind that the regulations do not prevent anyone from being called an asshole.

The rules don't end there. The brewery may not give away free beer for a period of longer than two hours in a single day. During those two hours, the total amount of free beer poured into a commemorative pint glass may not exceed 32 ounces, though the brewery may subdivide that total into however many samples they like. All of this must happen under the contrived pretext of a free brewery tour, despite the fact that the people attending don't seem to really do much actual touring of the brewery. It is simply the rule: no free tour, no free beer. Look up Chapter 560-2-7-.01 if you want the full accounting.

In practice, this whole experience doesn't much resemble that fantasy of a carefully considered sip of beer as much as happy hour in an industrial warehouse with a hundred of your thirstiest friends. I took notes on my journey.

6 p.m. Thurs., April 24

I arrived a half-hour late at Monday Night Brewing, mostly due to getting stuck in traffic after work. Judging by the well-dressed crowd already sipping beers on the back patio of the brewery, most of them came straight from the office, too. The brewery is at the dead end of an industrial road that backs up to a lush green patch of the Atlanta Waterworks reservoir. Inside, they've done a fine job of decorating, including a wall of ties that has been captioned via a neon sign with the punny slogan, "TIE ONE ON," but everyone wanted to be outside in the sunny greenspace of the back patio. It didn't hurt that the Good Food Truck was outside, too, serving hot dogs in French toast buns, a specialty it calls the "Poodle."

The assembled crowd impressed me in part because Monday Night Brewing may have the most socially confusing name in beer right now. Just imagine what it is like for people to call their friends and invite them to the brewery:

"Hey, do you want to go to Monday Night on Thursday?"

"Go where?"

"Monday Night, the brewery."

"You want to go to a brewery on Monday night?"

"No, I want to go on Thursday."

This could go on infinitely, especially between drunk people. I don't know if the brewers are fans of Abbot and Costello, but I do know that they're fans of the Bible. On the brewery tour, which I attended with roughly 1 percent of the crowd, a man with a very long beard explained that the founding brewers started brewing beer for their Monday night Bible study group, thus the confusing name.

He also explained that beer is made from barley, hops, yeast, and water. Did I mention that you don't learn much on these brewery tours? If you've been on one, you've been on them all. The guy in the baseball cap points at one big shiny tank and says, "That's the one we boil in." Then he points at another big shiny tank and says, "That's the one we ferment in." If you're lucky, there will be some funny origin story about the founders.

The other reason that people don't usually go on the tour portion of the brewery tour is that it really cuts into the drinking time. Thirty-two ounces of beer might not sound like much to drink over the course of a couple of hours, but, depending on the line, six or eight individually poured samples can easily run past that window. At Monday Night, you get six drink tickets along with your souvenir pint glass. How should you use them? I'd say stick with the Drafty Kilt, a smooth scotch ale with plenty of smoke and malt. After a few of those, I needed a Poodle from the Good Food Truck and a ride home.

5:10 p.m. Fri., April 25

Thinking that I would be clever, I arrived a little early at Terrapin Brewery in Athens and found that 200 people had done the exact same thing. The lines to get in stretch deep into the parking lot. I haven't ever been to a Dave Matthews Band or John Mayer concert, but I think standing in this line, surrounded on all sides by undergraduates in khaki shorts, polo shirts, Ray-Bans, and deck shoes, may have prepared me. They had lots of interesting conversations, some of which I couldn't help but write down, feeling like an anthropologist lost in the land of bro:

"So, does beer make you dehydrated or hydrated? I mean, it's a liquid right?"

"Dude, if you had to make out with a dude, what dude would it be?"

"Why are there so many dogs here?"

"When people talked about Terrapin, I always assumed that it was a bar downtown, but I guess it's like a Grateful Dead song, too?"

There was also a discussion about the comparative profit margins between beer and soda, mostly the monologue of an undergraduate wildly excited about the lucrative possibilities allowed by majoring in economics. After about 20 or 30 minutes of this line, I bought a pint glass in the gift shop. I stepped outside into Terrapin's fenced-in backyard, excited to finally drink beer, and found another line.

I don't mean to exaggerate the point here, but if you want to drink beer at Terrapin, you better like standing in line with college students. The vast majority of them seem to have the same drinking strategy: stand in line for beer sample, get beer sample poured, and return to the end of the line to wait for another beer sample while drinking the previous beer sample. Owing to some sort of construction, Terrapin was not physically touring the brewery on this day, but instead offering an "educational beer talk." An employee walked around in the Terrapin yard, offering to talk about beer. No one was interested. They were too busy standing in line.

However long you stand in line, Terrapin's beer is still quite good. I'm especially partial to their new Recreation Ale, a mild session ale perfectly suited to sitting around in the sun in the grass. While listening to an old hippie cover a James Taylor song on an acoustic guitar, I did exactly that. Then I looked at the line to get another sample and decided it was time to leave.

6:30 p.m. Fri., April 25

After leaving Terrapin, I arrived at the soft opening of Athens' newest brewery, Creature Comforts. Located in a former automotive warehouse in downtown, the brewery is a sight a to behold. High, arching beams run across the ceiling. Reclaimed barn wood is paneled behind the bar. Light splashes in from massive windows. If you told me this was the new Ford Fry restaurant, I would believe you. At least on this sunny Friday, the crowd was more professor and townie than undergraduate bro. There were places to sit and short lines for beer.

Getting a glass of Creature Comforts isn't easy, yet. The brewery hasn't started canning and its reach, keg-wise, doesn't yet extend much past Athens. The brewery, at least at this point, is one of the few places you can taste the beer, which you absolutely should do. The best beer I tasted over this entire weekend was the Athena, a slightly tart Berliner Weisse that possesses a perfectly balanced, oddly compelling flavor of dry fruit and light wheat. While drinking it, I happened to be sitting across the table from Blake Tyers, a brewer at Creature Comforts. Tyers gave more or less the same brewery tour as any other brewery, but sitting down and talking to him about beer, I probably learned more than I did at any other brewery combined. The more you ask questions of brewers, of course, the more they'll tell you.

It couldn't have felt more opposite from the experience at Terrapin. The next day, Athens reporter Andre Gallant tweeted at me, "Today, CC felt like a frat kegger. Wall to wall college kids getting wasted." Perhaps these things all depend on the day.

1 a.m. Sat., April 26

After drinking beer, what else is there to do but drink more beer? After Creature Comforts, I found myself at Trappeze, probably Athen's best brewpub, ordering more Creature Comforts beer with the brewers of Creature Comforts. After that, there were more beers at the World Famous, a pub that serves a sandwich made of fried chicken and waffles. After that, I bought a beer from a gas station, a cheeseburger from the Varsity, and walked back to my motel room to pass out.

1 p.m. Sat., April 26

Freshly sober from the motel room and a half-gallon of gas station coffee, I remembered that I had made plans to meet up with Atlanta's best beer writer, Austin Louis Ray, at Burnt Hickory Brewery. Burnt Hickory is an hour and a half away from Athens, where I was. That seemed like a long drive until I realized that Heirloom Market BBQ was on the way. I stopped there and had a half-pound of brisket and a pile of kimchi for breakfast on the way to Kennesaw, which is the right thing to do if you ever have to go to Cobb County for any reason.

When I arrived at Burnt Hickory, the anniversary party was well under way. Ray greeted me by saying, "Welcome to the epicenter of Weird Kennesaw." There was a woman wearing roller skates and a body suit that made her appear to be skinned. There was a dude dressed as a giant clown. There was a Misfits cover band. A lot of people were wearing Burnt Hickory T-shirts that look exactly like Black Sabbath or KISS logos. The lines were packed, but it seemed like a special occasion, a chance for every weirdo in the county to descend on one place for the love of beer.

Burnt Hickory's brews have names like metal songs: "Fighting Bishop," "Ezekiel's Wheel," "Old Wooden Head," "Cannon Dragger." The Fighting Bishop, a Belgian-style Trippel that's spiced with green peppercorns, is the one that moved me the most. Burnt Hickory's location isn't quite as picturesque as Monday Night's back patio or Creature Comfort's remodeled warehouse, but I saw more people having fun and enjoying a beer-fueled community at Burnt Hickory than at any other brewery.

4 p.m. Sat., April 26

On the way back into Atlanta, I stopped at Red Brick Brewing. When I moved to Atlanta five years ago, I drank a Red Brick Ale (back when the brewery was known as Atlanta Brewing Company), and decided that I didn't need to drink it again. Last year, a new brewing team took over the company and the difference is obvious. Not only has the name and branding changed, but brews like Hoplanta IPA and Hop Circle India Session Ale positively sing with flavor, while I remember the beer I drank a few years ago as more of a mumble.

Speaking of singing, on the Saturday afternoon that I dropped in, the small-ish crowd included a guy with an acoustic guitar playing familiar radio hits, a couple of dudes were furiously competing, and a cook was turning hot dogs and flipping hamburgers on a grill outside. People were in such a feel-good mood that when the acoustic guitar guy started playing the Counting Crows song "Mr. Jones," almost the entire crowd started singing along.

I'm not sure if it was brought on by the acoustic guitar dude, but it was around this time that my hangover started kicking in. It was time to call it a day.

?image-1
2 p.m. Sun., April 26

Have you ever wanted to stop drinking beer? No? Me either.

Despite the multi-day hangover, patchy stubble, and obnoxiously smelly undershirt that I had developed over the weekend, I couldn't do this trip without dropping into the brewery that most people credit for starting Atlanta's craft brewing scene. Since being founded in 1997, SweetWater Brewing Company has grown into one of the 20 largest craft breweries in the country by volume. It's the exclusive craft beer of Turner Field. You can drink SweetWater 420 on some Delta flights. It's big business and, at the brewery, it shows. Compared to all the other breweries I visited, everything was simply bigger. Bigger semi-trucks, bigger bottling lines, bigger gift shop, bigger stainless steel tanks. In that way, the place is like any other craft brewery, except magnified.

As SweetWater has ascended to the top — scoring big contracts, sending out cease-and-desist letters to protect their brand — it has sometimes seemed that it's had a hard time getting along with other craft breweries. Maybe that's true in some cases, but of all the brewers I met over the trip, no one had a bad word to say about SweetWater. Most of them, in fact, mentioned that someone in their brewery had gotten their start at SweetWater or that SweetWater had helped them out with a favor once or twice in the past.

The crowd on Sunday was actually pretty light. I was a little disappointed to find out that the brewery only serves its cask and limited release beers on Wednesday, which is apparently when you should go. Instead, I drank the SweetWater that I typically drink, LowRYEder, and listened to another dude playing acoustic guitar. He was singing Neil Young.

"Oh, to live on Sugar Mountain with the barkers and the colored balloons. You can't be 20 on Sugar Mountain though you're thinking that you're leaving there too soon."

Have you ever wanted to stop drinking beer? No? Me either."
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(15750) "Think about beer. Go ahead, just think about it. Think about your favorite beer being poured into a glass vessel at the right, chilly temperature. You may notice the aroma first or, perhaps, the way sunlight reflects through the liquid's golden color. Think about the first sip, the touch of frothy head and rush of effervescence, the flavor balanced between sweet and bitter notes. Now, look up. You're in the brewery where this beer was brewed. Bags of grain are piled in the corner and bottles are stacked in another. In front of you, a stainless steel tank holds thousands of gallons of this precious liquid. You can hear the light gurgle of liquid fermentation. This is a transcendent experience, one that you will measure all other experiences of drinking beer against. You have tasted the fruit off the vine.

That's the fantasy I had about visiting a brewery. Until recently, I had never visited one, which should be an embarrassing thing for any Atlantan to admit. To say that you live in Atlanta and have not visited one of the many fine establishments brewing beer in Atlanta is like saying you haven't been to a game at Turner Field. It is fun and cheap and simply something that you, as a local drinking citizen, should do and have done. (Sober people, consider yourselves exempt from my judgment.) The number of breweries in the metro area keeps rising, too. By the end of the year, you won't be able to throw a rock at a warehouse in Metro Atlanta without hitting a bottle of Belgian-style doppelbock. In an effort to correct my embarrassing lapse in experience, I suggested to my editor that I research a survey of local brewery tours over the course of a long weekend. That's a nice way of saying I convinced my employer to pay for me to get shit-housed four days in a row. If you have a similarly generous employer, I suggest you do the same this summer.

You must know that you can't just walk into a brewery in Georgia at any given time and pay for your pint like any old pub. Owing to a bizarrely specific set of regulations set by the Georgia Department of Revenue, attending a brewery tour in Georgia is like performing a complicated mating ritual specific only to the indigenous beer drinkers and brewers of our region. Most importantly, the brewery is not actually allowed to sell beer. It can (and does) sell soap made from beer, dog treats made from beer, beer branded cozies, specially shaped bottle openers, T-shirts with Grateful Dead references, Frisbees with foil-stamped beer logos, and commemorative pint glasses into which a brewer may pour many free samples of beer. Remember, the beer is the part they're not allowed to sell, so you can ask for a free plastic cup into which your free sample of beer will be poured. You may bear in mind that the regulations do not prevent anyone from being called an asshole.

The rules don't end there. The brewery may not give away free beer for a period of longer than two hours in a single day. During those two hours, the total amount of free beer poured into a commemorative pint glass may not exceed 32 ounces, though the brewery may subdivide that total into however many samples they like. All of this must happen under the contrived pretext of a free brewery tour, despite the fact that the people attending don't seem to really do much actual touring of the brewery. It is simply the rule: no free tour, no free beer. Look up Chapter 560-2-7-.01 if you want the full accounting.

In practice, this whole experience doesn't much resemble that fantasy of a carefully considered sip of beer as much as happy hour in an industrial warehouse with a hundred of your thirstiest friends. I took notes on my journey.

__6 p.m. Thurs., April 24__

I arrived a half-hour late at [http://mondaynightbrewing.com?|Monday Night Brewing], mostly due to getting stuck in traffic after work. Judging by the well-dressed crowd already sipping beers on the back patio of the brewery, most of them came straight from the office, too. The brewery is at the dead end of an industrial road that backs up to a lush green patch of the Atlanta Waterworks reservoir. Inside, they've done a fine job of decorating, including a wall of ties that has been captioned via a neon sign with the punny slogan, "TIE ONE ON," but everyone wanted to be outside in the sunny greenspace of the back patio. It didn't hurt that the Good Food Truck was outside, too, serving hot dogs in French toast buns, a specialty it calls the "Poodle."

The assembled crowd impressed me in part because Monday Night Brewing may have the most socially confusing name in beer right now. Just imagine what it is like for people to call their friends and invite them to the brewery:

"Hey, do you want to go to Monday Night on Thursday?"

"Go where?"

"Monday Night, the brewery."

"You want to go to a brewery on Monday night?"

"No, I want to go on Thursday."

This could go on infinitely, especially between drunk people. I don't know if the brewers are fans of Abbot and Costello, but I do know that they're fans of the Bible. On the brewery tour, which I attended with roughly 1 percent of the crowd, a man with a very long beard explained that the founding brewers started brewing beer for their Monday night Bible study group, thus the confusing name.

He also explained that beer is made from barley, hops, yeast, and water. Did I mention that you don't learn much on these brewery tours? If you've been on one, you've been on them all. The guy in the baseball cap points at one big shiny tank and says, "That's the one we boil in." Then he points at another big shiny tank and says, "That's the one we ferment in." If you're lucky, there will be some funny origin story about the founders.

The other reason that people don't usually go on the tour portion of the brewery tour is that it really cuts into the drinking time. Thirty-two ounces of beer might not sound like much to drink over the course of a couple of hours, but, depending on the line, six or eight individually poured samples can easily run past that window. At Monday Night, you get six drink tickets along with your souvenir pint glass. How should you use them? I'd say stick with the Drafty Kilt, a smooth scotch ale with plenty of smoke and malt. After a few of those, I needed a Poodle from the Good Food Truck and a ride home.

__5:10 p.m. Fri., April 25__

Thinking that I would be clever, I arrived a little early at [http://terrapinbeer.com|Terrapin Brewery] in Athens and found that 200 people had done the exact same thing. The lines to get in stretch deep into the parking lot. I haven't ever been to a Dave Matthews Band or John Mayer concert, but I think standing in this line, surrounded on all sides by undergraduates in khaki shorts, polo shirts, Ray-Bans, and deck shoes, may have prepared me. They had lots of interesting conversations, some of which I couldn't help but write down, feeling like an anthropologist lost in the land of bro:

"So, does beer make you dehydrated or hydrated? I mean, it's a liquid right?"

"Dude, if you had to make out with a dude, what dude would it be?"

"Why are there so many dogs here?"

"When people talked about Terrapin, I always assumed that it was a bar downtown, but I guess it's like a Grateful Dead song, too?"

There was also a discussion about the comparative profit margins between beer and soda, mostly the monologue of an undergraduate wildly excited about the lucrative possibilities allowed by majoring in economics. After about 20 or 30 minutes of this line, I bought a pint glass in the gift shop. I stepped outside into Terrapin's fenced-in backyard, excited to finally drink beer, and found another line.

I don't mean to exaggerate the point here, but if you want to drink beer at Terrapin, you better like standing in line with college students. The vast majority of them seem to have the same drinking strategy: stand in line for beer sample, get beer sample poured, and return to the end of the line to wait for another beer sample while drinking the previous beer sample. Owing to some sort of construction, Terrapin was not physically touring the brewery on this day, but instead offering an "educational beer talk." An employee walked around in the Terrapin yard, offering to talk about beer. No one was interested. They were too busy standing in line.

However long you stand in line, Terrapin's beer is still quite good. I'm especially partial to their new Recreation Ale, a mild session ale perfectly suited to sitting around in the sun in the grass. While listening to an old hippie cover a James Taylor song on an acoustic guitar, I did exactly that. Then I looked at the line to get another sample and decided it was time to leave.

__6:30 p.m. Fri., April 25__

After leaving Terrapin, I arrived at the soft opening of Athens' newest brewery, [http://creaturecomfortsbeer.com|Creature Comforts]. Located in a former automotive warehouse in downtown, the brewery is a sight a to behold. High, arching beams run across the ceiling. Reclaimed barn wood is paneled behind the bar. Light splashes in from massive windows. If you told me this was the new Ford Fry restaurant, I would believe you. At least on this sunny Friday, the crowd was more professor and townie than undergraduate bro. There were places to sit and short lines for beer.

Getting a glass of Creature Comforts isn't easy, yet. The brewery hasn't started canning and its reach, keg-wise, doesn't yet extend much past Athens. The brewery, at least at this point, is one of the few places you can taste the beer, which you absolutely should do. The best beer I tasted over this entire weekend was the Athena, a slightly tart Berliner Weisse that possesses a perfectly balanced, oddly compelling flavor of dry fruit and light wheat. While drinking it, I happened to be sitting across the table from Blake Tyers, a brewer at Creature Comforts. Tyers gave more or less the same brewery tour as any other brewery, but sitting down and talking to him about beer, I probably learned more than I did at any other brewery combined. The more you ask questions of brewers, of course, the more they'll tell you.

It couldn't have felt more opposite from the experience at Terrapin. The next day, Athens reporter Andre Gallant tweeted at me, "Today, CC felt like a frat kegger. Wall to wall college kids getting wasted." Perhaps these things all depend on the day.

__1 a.m. Sat., April 26__

After drinking beer, what else is there to do but drink more beer? After Creature Comforts, I found myself at Trappeze, probably Athen's best brewpub, ordering more Creature Comforts beer with the brewers of Creature Comforts. After that, there were more beers at the World Famous, a pub that serves a sandwich made of fried chicken and waffles. After that, I bought a beer from a gas station, a cheeseburger from the Varsity, and walked back to my motel room to pass out.

__1 p.m. Sat., April 26__

Freshly sober from the motel room and a half-gallon of gas station coffee, I remembered that I had made plans to meet up with Atlanta's best beer writer, Austin Louis Ray, at [http://burnthickorybrewery.com|Burnt Hickory Brewery]. Burnt Hickory is an hour and a half away from Athens, where I was. That seemed like a long drive until I realized that Heirloom Market BBQ was on the way. I stopped there and had a half-pound of brisket and a pile of kimchi for breakfast on the way to Kennesaw, which is the right thing to do if you ever have to go to Cobb County for any reason.

When I arrived at Burnt Hickory, the anniversary party was well under way. Ray greeted me by saying, "Welcome to the epicenter of Weird Kennesaw." There was a woman wearing roller skates and a body suit that made her appear to be skinned. There was a dude dressed as a giant clown. There was a Misfits cover band. A lot of people were wearing Burnt Hickory T-shirts that look exactly like Black Sabbath or KISS logos. The lines were packed, but it seemed like a special occasion, a chance for every weirdo in the county to descend on one place for the love of beer.

Burnt Hickory's brews have names like metal songs: "Fighting Bishop," "Ezekiel's Wheel," "Old Wooden Head," "Cannon Dragger." The Fighting Bishop, a Belgian-style Trippel that's spiced with green peppercorns, is the one that moved me the most. Burnt Hickory's location isn't quite as picturesque as Monday Night's back patio or Creature Comfort's remodeled warehouse, but I saw more people having fun and enjoying a beer-fueled community at Burnt Hickory than at any other brewery.

__4 p.m. Sat., April 26__

On the way back into Atlanta, I stopped at [http://Redbrickbrewing.com|Red Brick Brewing]. When I moved to Atlanta five years ago, I drank a Red Brick Ale (back when the brewery was known as Atlanta Brewing Company), and decided that I didn't need to drink it again. Last year, a new brewing team took over the company and the difference is obvious. Not only has the name and branding changed, but brews like Hoplanta IPA and Hop Circle India Session Ale positively sing with flavor, while I remember the beer I drank a few years ago as more of a mumble.

Speaking of singing, on the Saturday afternoon that I dropped in, the small-ish crowd included a guy with an acoustic guitar playing familiar radio hits, a couple of dudes were furiously competing, and a cook was turning hot dogs and flipping hamburgers on a grill outside. People were in such a feel-good mood that when the acoustic guitar guy started playing the Counting Crows song "Mr. Jones," almost the entire crowd started singing along.

I'm not sure if it was brought on by the acoustic guitar dude, but it was around this time that my hangover started kicking in. It was time to call it a day.

?[image-1]
__2 p.m. Sun., April 26__

Have you ever wanted to stop drinking beer? No? Me either.

Despite the multi-day hangover, patchy stubble, and obnoxiously smelly undershirt that I had developed over the weekend, I couldn't do this trip without dropping into the brewery that most people credit for starting Atlanta's craft brewing scene. Since being founded in 1997, [http://sweetwaterbrew.com|SweetWater Brewing Company] has grown into one of the 20 largest craft breweries in the country by volume. It's the exclusive craft beer of Turner Field. You can drink SweetWater 420 on some Delta flights. It's big business and, at the brewery, it shows. Compared to all the other breweries I visited, everything was simply bigger. Bigger semi-trucks, bigger bottling lines, bigger gift shop, bigger stainless steel tanks. In that way, the place is like any other craft brewery, except magnified.

As SweetWater has ascended to the top — scoring big contracts, sending out cease-and-desist letters to protect their brand — it has sometimes seemed that it's had a hard time getting along with other craft breweries. Maybe that's true in some cases, but of all the brewers I met over the trip, no one had a bad word to say about SweetWater. Most of them, in fact, mentioned that someone in their brewery had gotten their start at SweetWater or that SweetWater had helped them out with a favor once or twice in the past.

The crowd on Sunday was actually pretty light. I was a little disappointed to find out that the brewery only serves its cask and limited release beers on Wednesday, which is apparently when you should go. Instead, I drank the SweetWater that I typically drink, LowRYEder, and listened to another dude playing acoustic guitar. He was singing Neil Young.

"Oh, to live on Sugar Mountain with the barkers and the colored balloons. You can't be 20 on Sugar Mountain though you're thinking that you're leaving there too soon."

Have you ever wanted to stop drinking beer? No? Me either."
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  string(15847) "    You can do it, but I'm not quite sure that you should   2014-05-15T08:00:00+00:00 Summer Guide - How to drink at six breweries in four days   Wyatt Williams 1306426 2014-05-15T08:00:00+00:00  Think about beer. Go ahead, just think about it. Think about your favorite beer being poured into a glass vessel at the right, chilly temperature. You may notice the aroma first or, perhaps, the way sunlight reflects through the liquid's golden color. Think about the first sip, the touch of frothy head and rush of effervescence, the flavor balanced between sweet and bitter notes. Now, look up. You're in the brewery where this beer was brewed. Bags of grain are piled in the corner and bottles are stacked in another. In front of you, a stainless steel tank holds thousands of gallons of this precious liquid. You can hear the light gurgle of liquid fermentation. This is a transcendent experience, one that you will measure all other experiences of drinking beer against. You have tasted the fruit off the vine.

That's the fantasy I had about visiting a brewery. Until recently, I had never visited one, which should be an embarrassing thing for any Atlantan to admit. To say that you live in Atlanta and have not visited one of the many fine establishments brewing beer in Atlanta is like saying you haven't been to a game at Turner Field. It is fun and cheap and simply something that you, as a local drinking citizen, should do and have done. (Sober people, consider yourselves exempt from my judgment.) The number of breweries in the metro area keeps rising, too. By the end of the year, you won't be able to throw a rock at a warehouse in Metro Atlanta without hitting a bottle of Belgian-style doppelbock. In an effort to correct my embarrassing lapse in experience, I suggested to my editor that I research a survey of local brewery tours over the course of a long weekend. That's a nice way of saying I convinced my employer to pay for me to get shit-housed four days in a row. If you have a similarly generous employer, I suggest you do the same this summer.

You must know that you can't just walk into a brewery in Georgia at any given time and pay for your pint like any old pub. Owing to a bizarrely specific set of regulations set by the Georgia Department of Revenue, attending a brewery tour in Georgia is like performing a complicated mating ritual specific only to the indigenous beer drinkers and brewers of our region. Most importantly, the brewery is not actually allowed to sell beer. It can (and does) sell soap made from beer, dog treats made from beer, beer branded cozies, specially shaped bottle openers, T-shirts with Grateful Dead references, Frisbees with foil-stamped beer logos, and commemorative pint glasses into which a brewer may pour many free samples of beer. Remember, the beer is the part they're not allowed to sell, so you can ask for a free plastic cup into which your free sample of beer will be poured. You may bear in mind that the regulations do not prevent anyone from being called an asshole.

The rules don't end there. The brewery may not give away free beer for a period of longer than two hours in a single day. During those two hours, the total amount of free beer poured into a commemorative pint glass may not exceed 32 ounces, though the brewery may subdivide that total into however many samples they like. All of this must happen under the contrived pretext of a free brewery tour, despite the fact that the people attending don't seem to really do much actual touring of the brewery. It is simply the rule: no free tour, no free beer. Look up Chapter 560-2-7-.01 if you want the full accounting.

In practice, this whole experience doesn't much resemble that fantasy of a carefully considered sip of beer as much as happy hour in an industrial warehouse with a hundred of your thirstiest friends. I took notes on my journey.

6 p.m. Thurs., April 24

I arrived a half-hour late at Monday Night Brewing, mostly due to getting stuck in traffic after work. Judging by the well-dressed crowd already sipping beers on the back patio of the brewery, most of them came straight from the office, too. The brewery is at the dead end of an industrial road that backs up to a lush green patch of the Atlanta Waterworks reservoir. Inside, they've done a fine job of decorating, including a wall of ties that has been captioned via a neon sign with the punny slogan, "TIE ONE ON," but everyone wanted to be outside in the sunny greenspace of the back patio. It didn't hurt that the Good Food Truck was outside, too, serving hot dogs in French toast buns, a specialty it calls the "Poodle."

The assembled crowd impressed me in part because Monday Night Brewing may have the most socially confusing name in beer right now. Just imagine what it is like for people to call their friends and invite them to the brewery:

"Hey, do you want to go to Monday Night on Thursday?"

"Go where?"

"Monday Night, the brewery."

"You want to go to a brewery on Monday night?"

"No, I want to go on Thursday."

This could go on infinitely, especially between drunk people. I don't know if the brewers are fans of Abbot and Costello, but I do know that they're fans of the Bible. On the brewery tour, which I attended with roughly 1 percent of the crowd, a man with a very long beard explained that the founding brewers started brewing beer for their Monday night Bible study group, thus the confusing name.

He also explained that beer is made from barley, hops, yeast, and water. Did I mention that you don't learn much on these brewery tours? If you've been on one, you've been on them all. The guy in the baseball cap points at one big shiny tank and says, "That's the one we boil in." Then he points at another big shiny tank and says, "That's the one we ferment in." If you're lucky, there will be some funny origin story about the founders.

The other reason that people don't usually go on the tour portion of the brewery tour is that it really cuts into the drinking time. Thirty-two ounces of beer might not sound like much to drink over the course of a couple of hours, but, depending on the line, six or eight individually poured samples can easily run past that window. At Monday Night, you get six drink tickets along with your souvenir pint glass. How should you use them? I'd say stick with the Drafty Kilt, a smooth scotch ale with plenty of smoke and malt. After a few of those, I needed a Poodle from the Good Food Truck and a ride home.

5:10 p.m. Fri., April 25

Thinking that I would be clever, I arrived a little early at Terrapin Brewery in Athens and found that 200 people had done the exact same thing. The lines to get in stretch deep into the parking lot. I haven't ever been to a Dave Matthews Band or John Mayer concert, but I think standing in this line, surrounded on all sides by undergraduates in khaki shorts, polo shirts, Ray-Bans, and deck shoes, may have prepared me. They had lots of interesting conversations, some of which I couldn't help but write down, feeling like an anthropologist lost in the land of bro:

"So, does beer make you dehydrated or hydrated? I mean, it's a liquid right?"

"Dude, if you had to make out with a dude, what dude would it be?"

"Why are there so many dogs here?"

"When people talked about Terrapin, I always assumed that it was a bar downtown, but I guess it's like a Grateful Dead song, too?"

There was also a discussion about the comparative profit margins between beer and soda, mostly the monologue of an undergraduate wildly excited about the lucrative possibilities allowed by majoring in economics. After about 20 or 30 minutes of this line, I bought a pint glass in the gift shop. I stepped outside into Terrapin's fenced-in backyard, excited to finally drink beer, and found another line.

I don't mean to exaggerate the point here, but if you want to drink beer at Terrapin, you better like standing in line with college students. The vast majority of them seem to have the same drinking strategy: stand in line for beer sample, get beer sample poured, and return to the end of the line to wait for another beer sample while drinking the previous beer sample. Owing to some sort of construction, Terrapin was not physically touring the brewery on this day, but instead offering an "educational beer talk." An employee walked around in the Terrapin yard, offering to talk about beer. No one was interested. They were too busy standing in line.

However long you stand in line, Terrapin's beer is still quite good. I'm especially partial to their new Recreation Ale, a mild session ale perfectly suited to sitting around in the sun in the grass. While listening to an old hippie cover a James Taylor song on an acoustic guitar, I did exactly that. Then I looked at the line to get another sample and decided it was time to leave.

6:30 p.m. Fri., April 25

After leaving Terrapin, I arrived at the soft opening of Athens' newest brewery, Creature Comforts. Located in a former automotive warehouse in downtown, the brewery is a sight a to behold. High, arching beams run across the ceiling. Reclaimed barn wood is paneled behind the bar. Light splashes in from massive windows. If you told me this was the new Ford Fry restaurant, I would believe you. At least on this sunny Friday, the crowd was more professor and townie than undergraduate bro. There were places to sit and short lines for beer.

Getting a glass of Creature Comforts isn't easy, yet. The brewery hasn't started canning and its reach, keg-wise, doesn't yet extend much past Athens. The brewery, at least at this point, is one of the few places you can taste the beer, which you absolutely should do. The best beer I tasted over this entire weekend was the Athena, a slightly tart Berliner Weisse that possesses a perfectly balanced, oddly compelling flavor of dry fruit and light wheat. While drinking it, I happened to be sitting across the table from Blake Tyers, a brewer at Creature Comforts. Tyers gave more or less the same brewery tour as any other brewery, but sitting down and talking to him about beer, I probably learned more than I did at any other brewery combined. The more you ask questions of brewers, of course, the more they'll tell you.

It couldn't have felt more opposite from the experience at Terrapin. The next day, Athens reporter Andre Gallant tweeted at me, "Today, CC felt like a frat kegger. Wall to wall college kids getting wasted." Perhaps these things all depend on the day.

1 a.m. Sat., April 26

After drinking beer, what else is there to do but drink more beer? After Creature Comforts, I found myself at Trappeze, probably Athen's best brewpub, ordering more Creature Comforts beer with the brewers of Creature Comforts. After that, there were more beers at the World Famous, a pub that serves a sandwich made of fried chicken and waffles. After that, I bought a beer from a gas station, a cheeseburger from the Varsity, and walked back to my motel room to pass out.

1 p.m. Sat., April 26

Freshly sober from the motel room and a half-gallon of gas station coffee, I remembered that I had made plans to meet up with Atlanta's best beer writer, Austin Louis Ray, at Burnt Hickory Brewery. Burnt Hickory is an hour and a half away from Athens, where I was. That seemed like a long drive until I realized that Heirloom Market BBQ was on the way. I stopped there and had a half-pound of brisket and a pile of kimchi for breakfast on the way to Kennesaw, which is the right thing to do if you ever have to go to Cobb County for any reason.

When I arrived at Burnt Hickory, the anniversary party was well under way. Ray greeted me by saying, "Welcome to the epicenter of Weird Kennesaw." There was a woman wearing roller skates and a body suit that made her appear to be skinned. There was a dude dressed as a giant clown. There was a Misfits cover band. A lot of people were wearing Burnt Hickory T-shirts that look exactly like Black Sabbath or KISS logos. The lines were packed, but it seemed like a special occasion, a chance for every weirdo in the county to descend on one place for the love of beer.

Burnt Hickory's brews have names like metal songs: "Fighting Bishop," "Ezekiel's Wheel," "Old Wooden Head," "Cannon Dragger." The Fighting Bishop, a Belgian-style Trippel that's spiced with green peppercorns, is the one that moved me the most. Burnt Hickory's location isn't quite as picturesque as Monday Night's back patio or Creature Comfort's remodeled warehouse, but I saw more people having fun and enjoying a beer-fueled community at Burnt Hickory than at any other brewery.

4 p.m. Sat., April 26

On the way back into Atlanta, I stopped at Red Brick Brewing. When I moved to Atlanta five years ago, I drank a Red Brick Ale (back when the brewery was known as Atlanta Brewing Company), and decided that I didn't need to drink it again. Last year, a new brewing team took over the company and the difference is obvious. Not only has the name and branding changed, but brews like Hoplanta IPA and Hop Circle India Session Ale positively sing with flavor, while I remember the beer I drank a few years ago as more of a mumble.

Speaking of singing, on the Saturday afternoon that I dropped in, the small-ish crowd included a guy with an acoustic guitar playing familiar radio hits, a couple of dudes were furiously competing, and a cook was turning hot dogs and flipping hamburgers on a grill outside. People were in such a feel-good mood that when the acoustic guitar guy started playing the Counting Crows song "Mr. Jones," almost the entire crowd started singing along.

I'm not sure if it was brought on by the acoustic guitar dude, but it was around this time that my hangover started kicking in. It was time to call it a day.

?image-1
2 p.m. Sun., April 26

Have you ever wanted to stop drinking beer? No? Me either.

Despite the multi-day hangover, patchy stubble, and obnoxiously smelly undershirt that I had developed over the weekend, I couldn't do this trip without dropping into the brewery that most people credit for starting Atlanta's craft brewing scene. Since being founded in 1997, SweetWater Brewing Company has grown into one of the 20 largest craft breweries in the country by volume. It's the exclusive craft beer of Turner Field. You can drink SweetWater 420 on some Delta flights. It's big business and, at the brewery, it shows. Compared to all the other breweries I visited, everything was simply bigger. Bigger semi-trucks, bigger bottling lines, bigger gift shop, bigger stainless steel tanks. In that way, the place is like any other craft brewery, except magnified.

As SweetWater has ascended to the top — scoring big contracts, sending out cease-and-desist letters to protect their brand — it has sometimes seemed that it's had a hard time getting along with other craft breweries. Maybe that's true in some cases, but of all the brewers I met over the trip, no one had a bad word to say about SweetWater. Most of them, in fact, mentioned that someone in their brewery had gotten their start at SweetWater or that SweetWater had helped them out with a favor once or twice in the past.

The crowd on Sunday was actually pretty light. I was a little disappointed to find out that the brewery only serves its cask and limited release beers on Wednesday, which is apparently when you should go. Instead, I drank the SweetWater that I typically drink, LowRYEder, and listened to another dude playing acoustic guitar. He was singing Neil Young.

"Oh, to live on Sugar Mountain with the barkers and the colored balloons. You can't be 20 on Sugar Mountain though you're thinking that you're leaving there too soon."

Have you ever wanted to stop drinking beer? No? Me either.             13078387 11156001                          Summer Guide - How to drink at six breweries in four days "
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Article

Thursday May 15, 2014 04:00 am EDT
You can do it, but I'm not quite sure that you should | more...
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Americans for the Arts, the national arts nonprofit, has recognized WonderRoot executive director Chris Appleton with the 2014 Emerging Leaders Award. Since 2006, the award has been awarded for "visionary leadership by an individual who is a new and/or young arts leader who demonstrates an ability to engage and impact his or her community." Appleton co-founded WonderRoot less than a decade ago and has since built the grassroots organization into one of Atlanta's most prominent community arts organizations.

In a statement released this morning, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts Robert Lynch said, "Our Local Arts Leadership Awards honorees have distinguished themselves as leaders in innovation, education, management and advocacy for the arts in communities across the country. They are driven by both a passion for their work and a deep belief in the power of the arts to transform individual lives and communities. We want to ensure we recognize their priceless contributions toward strengthening the arts in America."

When asked by CL about the award, Appleton said, "I'm incredibly honored to be recognized in this way. Really, I think it's a testament to, not only the good work that WonderRoot is doing, but the progress that Atlanta's arts community has made over the past several years. It's evidence of Atlanta's growth as a home and destination for cultural production in the South."

The award will be presented at Americans for the Arts annual convention in June."
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*Chris Appleton
[http://www.americansforthearts.org/|Americans for the Arts], the national arts nonprofit, has recognized WonderRoot executive director Chris Appleton with the 2014 Emerging Leaders Award. Since 2006, the award has been awarded for "visionary leadership by an individual who is a new and/or young arts leader who demonstrates an ability to engage and impact his or her community." Appleton co-founded WonderRoot [http://clatl.com/atlanta/the-rise-of-wonderroot-and-atlantas-new-grassroots-art-movement/Content?oid=1432699|less than a decade ago] and has since built the grassroots organization into one of Atlanta's most prominent community arts organizations.

In a statement released this morning, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts Robert Lynch said, "Our Local Arts Leadership Awards honorees have distinguished themselves as leaders in innovation, education, management and advocacy for the arts in communities across the country. They are driven by both a passion for their work and a deep belief in the power of the arts to transform individual lives and communities. We want to ensure we recognize their priceless contributions toward strengthening the arts in America."

When asked by ''CL'' about the award, Appleton said, "I'm incredibly honored to be recognized in this way. Really, I think it's a testament to, not only the good work that WonderRoot is doing, but the progress that Atlanta's arts community has made over the past several years. It's evidence of Atlanta's growth as a home and destination for cultural production in the South."

The award will be presented at Americans for the Arts [http://www.americansforthearts.org/by-program/promotion-and-recognition/awards-for-arts-achievement/annual-awards|annual convention in June]."
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*COURTESY WONDERROOT
*Chris Appleton
Americans for the Arts, the national arts nonprofit, has recognized WonderRoot executive director Chris Appleton with the 2014 Emerging Leaders Award. Since 2006, the award has been awarded for "visionary leadership by an individual who is a new and/or young arts leader who demonstrates an ability to engage and impact his or her community." Appleton co-founded WonderRoot less than a decade ago and has since built the grassroots organization into one of Atlanta's most prominent community arts organizations.

In a statement released this morning, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts Robert Lynch said, "Our Local Arts Leadership Awards honorees have distinguished themselves as leaders in innovation, education, management and advocacy for the arts in communities across the country. They are driven by both a passion for their work and a deep belief in the power of the arts to transform individual lives and communities. We want to ensure we recognize their priceless contributions toward strengthening the arts in America."

When asked by CL about the award, Appleton said, "I'm incredibly honored to be recognized in this way. Really, I think it's a testament to, not only the good work that WonderRoot is doing, but the progress that Atlanta's arts community has made over the past several years. It's evidence of Atlanta's growth as a home and destination for cultural production in the South."

The award will be presented at Americans for the Arts annual convention in June.             13078206 11032895                          Chris Appleton recognized with National Emerging Leader Award "
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Article

Tuesday April 29, 2014 11:55 am EDT

  • COURTESY WONDERROOT
  • Chris Appleton

Americans for the Arts, the national arts nonprofit, has recognized WonderRoot executive director Chris Appleton with the 2014 Emerging Leaders Award. Since 2006, the award has been awarded for "visionary leadership by an individual who is a new and/or young arts leader who demonstrates an ability to engage and impact his or her community." Appleton...

| more...
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The latest episode of Atlanta's newest talk show features local poet and newspaper man Daniel Beauregard discussing Africa and news with host Gavin Bernard. If you can't stop watching this thing, either, there is also a short episode about pizza bites."
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Article

Tuesday April 29, 2014 10:00 am EDT



The latest episode of Atlanta's newest talk show features local poet and newspaper man Daniel Beauregard discussing Africa and news with host Gavin Bernard. If you can't stop watching this thing, either, there is also a short episode about pizza bites.

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*AKASHIC BOOKS
*
Last night, the 2014 Townsend Prize for Fiction was awarded to Anthony Winkler for his 2012 novel God Carlos. The novel, which tells of Spanish brutalities against native peoples in 16th-century Jamaica, is Winkler's ninth book of fiction. He has since published a follow-up novel, The Family Mansion, which concerns 19th century British imperialism in Jamaica. The ceremony, as arranged by The Chattahooche Review and the Georgia Center for the Book, took place at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

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Other finalists for the award included The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont, Where You Can Find Me by Sheri Joseph, I Want to Show You More by Jamie Quatro, and others. National Book Award-winning novelist Jesmyn Ward delivered the keynote."
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*AKASHIC BOOKS
*
Last night, the 2014 Townsend Prize for Fiction was awarded to Anthony Winkler for his 2012 novel ''God Carlos''. The novel, which tells of Spanish brutalities against native peoples in 16th-century Jamaica, is Winkler's ninth book of fiction. He has since published a follow-up novel, ''The Family Mansion'', which concerns 19th century British imperialism in Jamaica. The ceremony, as arranged by ''The Chattahooche Review'' and the Georgia Center for the Book, took place at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

Though Winkler's award wasn't surprising, his long career a novelist has coasted mostly below the radar. Last year, ''Atlanta Magazine'' published an article titled, [http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2014/01/07/townsend-prize-finalists-for-2014-revealed|"Anthony C. Winkler may be the best novelist you've never heard of."] Aside from his novels, Winkler's credits include a large number of contributions to textbooks concerning grammar and rhetoric. 

Other finalists for the award included ''The Starboard Sea'' by Amber Dermont, ''Where You Can Find Me'' by Sheri Joseph, ''I Want to Show You More'' by Jamie Quatro, and others. National Book Award-winning novelist Jesmyn Ward delivered the keynote."
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*AKASHIC BOOKS
*
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Article

Friday April 25, 2014 10:47 am EDT

https://media2.fdncms.com/atlanta/imager/anthony-winkler-wins-2014-townsend-prize-f/u/original/11008885/1398436853-godcarlos-509x800.jpg

  • AKASHIC BOOKS

Last night, the 2014 Townsend Prize for Fiction was awarded to Anthony Winkler for his 2012 novel God Carlos. The novel, which tells of Spanish brutalities against native peoples in 16th-century Jamaica, is Winkler's ninth book of fiction. He...

| more...
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*COURTESY MICHAEL TAVANI
*Michael Tavani
While working on last month's cover story about email marketing company MailChimp, I noticed that Scoutmob founder Michael Tavani announced that he would stepping back from his day to day role at the company he helped found. To accompany that news, Tavani published a short mission statement on Medium, "Founders Gotta Found." 

Among other things, Tavani wrote, "When you find your calling, you follow it. All I ever want to do is start companies. So I'm excited about diving right back in. In fact, I'll be working on a few projects simultaneously  -  and hatching them at Scoutmob HQ. My Evernote file on future projects is gigantic. The goal is to start a lab where I can quickly crank out new products  -  it's so cheap to get to launch nowadays."

In light of the conversations I had with MailChimp's co-founders Ben Chestnut and Dan Kurzius, Tavani's comments were particularly interesting. In part because of their experiences in late 90s tech boom and bust, Chestnut and Kurzius expressed a real commitment and long term dedication to owning and stewarding the company they founded. Tavani was making an interesting case for creative founders starting businesses and getting out of the way. Scoutmob and MailChimp being two of Atlanta's most recognizable tech brands, I thought the contrast between their attitudes was especially compelling. In the final story, I ran a quote from Tavani's post above some comments from Chestnut about his discomfort with the current start-up climate. 

After the story came out, I noticed Tavani, who has since founded the consumer brand incubator Switchyards, tweeting that I'd gotten something wrong in the story. We agreed to meet up at Octane Coffee to talk about it.

Wyatt Williams: Well, you said that I got something wrong, and I'm curious, because I want to hear more if I got something wrong.

Michael Tavani: So, maybe this is just my take, but I think you probably used my story because it was maybe recent, and because it was like a high profile example of maybe a startup founder going out to start new things and then it was paired with Ben's comments. 

You know, I loved the story, but what I thought more than anything else was, if you went to Atlanta Tech village, 60 percent of the people there would be exactly what I think what you were trying to describe with me. They wear a blazer with their t-shirt underneath with the company logo and they're like, "Hey man, let me tell you about my SaaS application." I don't have business cards. I don't wear the t-shirt. I actually don't want to raise money at all for these next companies. I want to build lifestyle companies where we don't raise money at all, and the goal of that is to actually build. MailChimp just happens to be a huge lifestyle company, but they don't want to sell, because they're having a blast doing it. That's exactly the kinds of companies that I want to build. I'm not like, "Hey, lets build this SaaS app, I see an opportunity to build this thing and sell it in two years and make a ton of money and we'll either start another one or go to the beach and retire." 

So, I think that part I thought you had gotten wrong, you kind of used me as the example of the cheesy startup guy that's like pitching their business to sell, getting real big and sell and the passion for the company isn't there.

I actually - and I think some people would tell you this - I care a ton about brand and design and MailChimp is an amazing example of a company that cares abut brand and design. There aren't many in Atlanta that do. I want to start an consumer incubator that is only focused on the brand and the passion of the product and the craft of the product. Not, "Oh, we saw an opportunity to exploit a market, let's make a ton of money real quick," which I think is maybe the bad nature or the negative nature that you were trying to portray. You'll see a lot of that at Atlanta Tech Village. Had you went there, you probably would have gotten a ton of examples of exactly what you're describing. 

WW: Well, hear me out. I did use that quote from Medium because it was topical, but also because you were being honest in a way that people typically aren't. If I popped over to Atlanta Tech Village, I'd likely get a pitch, not someone explaining the purpose of their life. You put everything on the table in that post and, I think, made an interesting case for a founder like yourself being suited to starting companies but not running them in the long-term way that someone like Ben is. You wrote, "When you find your calling, you follow it. All I ever want to do is start companies. So I'm excited about diving right back in." I don't need to quote this back to you. So, help me reconcile this. That quote seemed to be a fair illustration of your business style and ambition.

MT: So, maybe there's probably a few different things going on. On some of it, I think you're exactly right. I don't know that the point Ben was trying to make in the following paragraph was, "I don't like guys that start things." The point that I remember standing out to me was about the guy that hands out business cards while, like, hyping their business. Just because you're starting companies doesn't mean you're like that. The reason I'm now taking a step backwards is because I love the back-of-the-napkin small company, and we're beyond that phase now. I'm just a founder, and everyone has a calling. We have a guy at Scoutmob right now that doesn't have a creative bone in his body. He's an operator, and that's not me. You know, he can't start companies and I can. I don't love the operations phase. 

I think MailChimp is in the phase where, at some point, I do think they're gonna get thrown, this is just my guess, they will get thrown a number, like a billion dollar number, a multi-billion dollar number. It's gonna be so great that they're gonna say we cannot pass it up. I don't think it will happen in the next 6 months. It will be a while down the road. But I do think at some point they're going to say, "We can change generations of our family, and we're kind of tiring," or whatever. 

I think you were trying to paint MailChimp as in it for the long haul and they're never gonna sell the company and they just don't want to found multiple companies, this is it, this is their thing. I think its easy for them to say that now that they have hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue, I don't think they were thinking that way until recently and I bet if we pin Ben down, he would say the same thing. He was that guy probably hawking MailChimp back in the day.

I never was that guy. I've never had business cards. I hated that style. 

WW: Well, I didn't say the words that Ben said, but I did put those quotes next to one another for a reason. I was less interested in comparing the culture of the business cards and pitches and more interested in putting these styles of business into context. You know, I did try to pin Ben down and he told me again and again that he doesn't want to sell the company, he wants to be a steward of it. His mindset is focused towards this style and management of the company that is very unusual in tech right now and that's what I was trying to contrast between those two quotes. I'm not saying one works and the other doesn't. I don't run companies; I'm not a CEO. I'm trying to illustrate what I think is an interesting contrast.

MT: Fair enough. From the article's perspective, I think it was a fine enough example to use that quote. If you went to Atlanta Tech Village, you would have really seen a contrast from Ben, I mean it would have been glaring. But, to be honest, I think Ben's style is so different from anyone else, you don't even have to go there. It's just different than anyone's style. I think they're unique for any company and they're in the fortunate financial position where they actually can be unique. 

I mean, if they were based out in San Francisco, no one would join MailChimp and start working there. In the early days, they would never have been able to attract employees, because they don't give out equity. The reason why they don't have to do that here is that no one gives out equity. People in Atlanta don't even know what equity is, so they just join because it's a good company. They would've had a hard time taking off. Now, they're in the spot where they didn't give out equity, they own the whole company, they can put up billboards with no branding on it, just a plain blue billboard on Ponce because they make a lot of money and all that.

Scoutmob's one of MailChimp's bigger customers, and we've been with them from the first day we started Scoutmob. Our office is next to theirs. We love those guys, but I have heard rumblings from just people that want to chew off MailChimp's business. There are kinds of business guys that go crazy raising money like you're describing or whatever, and they want a piece of that pie. They're giving out equity and being aggressive and they're kind of the anti-MailChimp. There's an academic debate to be had about what will win over the long haul, and some people say that style's not going to win out. 

They're being slow and they're not being aggressive. So, it's gonna be an interesting 5 years to see if that style, which is a very much anti-VC, anti-quick growth, anti-whatever style will win or this other, aggressive, we're gonna throw money at it, we are gonna fund, and we're gonna take a lot of outside money and all that. I don't know who's gonna win."
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*COURTESY MICHAEL TAVANI
*Michael Tavani
While working on [http://clatl.com/atlanta/subject-mailchimp/Content?oid=10845994|last month's cover story] about email marketing company MailChimp, I noticed that Scoutmob founder Michael Tavani announced that he would stepping back from his day to day role at the company he helped found. To accompany that news, Tavani published a short mission statement on Medium, [https://medium.com/p/f8f9c47be30b|"Founders Gotta Found."] 

Among other things, Tavani wrote, "When you find your calling, you follow it. All I ever want to do is start companies. So I'm excited about diving right back in. In fact, I'll be working on a few projects simultaneously  -  and hatching them at Scoutmob HQ. My Evernote file on future projects is gigantic. The goal is to start a lab where I can quickly crank out new products  -  it's so cheap to get to launch nowadays."

In light of the conversations I had with MailChimp's co-founders Ben Chestnut and Dan Kurzius, Tavani's comments were particularly interesting. In part because of their experiences in late 90s tech boom and bust, Chestnut and Kurzius expressed a real commitment and long term dedication to owning and stewarding the company they founded. Tavani was making an interesting case for creative founders starting businesses and getting out of the way. Scoutmob and MailChimp being two of Atlanta's most recognizable tech brands, I thought the contrast between their attitudes was especially compelling. In the final story, [http://clatl.com/atlanta/subject-mailchimp/Content?oid=10845994&storyPage=5|I ran a quote from Tavani's post] above some comments from Chestnut about his discomfort with the current start-up climate. 

After the story came out, I noticed Tavani, who has since founded the consumer brand incubator [http://www.switchyards.com/|Switchyards], [https://twitter.com/tavani/status/451726706039353344|tweeting] that I'd gotten something wrong in the story. We agreed to meet up at Octane Coffee to talk about it.

__Wyatt Williams:__ Well, you said that I got something wrong, and I'm curious, because I want to hear more if I got something wrong.

__Michael Tavani:__ So, maybe this is just my take, but I think you probably used my story because it was maybe recent, and because it was like a high profile example of maybe a startup founder going out to start new things and then it was paired with Ben's comments. 

You know, I loved the story, but what I thought more than anything else was, if you went to Atlanta Tech village, 60 percent of the people there would be exactly what I think what you were trying to describe with me. They wear a blazer with their t-shirt underneath with the company logo and they're like, "Hey man, let me tell you about my SaaS application." I don't have business cards. I don't wear the t-shirt. I actually don't want to raise money at all for these next companies. I want to build lifestyle companies where we don't raise money at all, and the goal of that is to actually build. MailChimp just happens to be a huge lifestyle company, but they don't want to sell, because they're having a blast doing it. That's exactly the kinds of companies that I want to build. I'm not like, "Hey, lets build this SaaS app, I see an opportunity to build this thing and sell it in two years and make a ton of money and we'll either start another one or go to the beach and retire." 

So, I think that part I thought you had gotten wrong, you kind of used me as the example of the cheesy startup guy that's like pitching their business to sell, getting real big and sell and the passion for the company isn't there.

I actually - and I think some people would tell you this - I care a ton about brand and design and MailChimp is an amazing example of a company that cares abut brand and design. There aren't many in Atlanta that do. I want to start an consumer incubator that is only focused on the brand and the passion of the product and the craft of the product. Not, "Oh, we saw an opportunity to exploit a market, let's make a ton of money real quick," which I think is maybe the bad nature or the negative nature that you were trying to portray. You'll see a lot of that at Atlanta Tech Village. Had you went there, you probably would have gotten a ton of examples of exactly what you're describing. 

__WW:__ Well, hear me out. I did use that quote from Medium because it was topical, but also because you were being honest in a way that people typically aren't. If I popped over to Atlanta Tech Village, I'd likely get a pitch, not someone explaining the purpose of their life. You put everything on the table in that post and, I think, made an interesting case for a founder like yourself being suited to starting companies but not running them in the long-term way that someone like Ben is. You wrote, "When you find your calling, you follow it. All I ever want to do is start companies. So I'm excited about diving right back in." I don't need to quote this back to you. So, help me reconcile this. That quote seemed to be a fair illustration of your business style and ambition.

__MT:__ So, maybe there's probably a few different things going on. On some of it, I think you're exactly right. I don't know that the point Ben was trying to make in the following paragraph was, "I don't like guys that start things." The point that I remember standing out to me was about the guy that hands out business cards while, like, hyping their business. Just because you're starting companies doesn't mean you're like that. The reason I'm now taking a step backwards is because I love the back-of-the-napkin small company, and we're beyond that phase now. I'm just a founder, and everyone has a calling. We have a guy at Scoutmob right now that doesn't have a creative bone in his body. He's an operator, and that's not me. You know, he can't start companies and I can. I don't love the operations phase. 

I think MailChimp is in the phase where, at some point, I do think they're gonna get thrown, this is just my guess, they will get thrown a number, like a billion dollar number, a multi-billion dollar number. It's gonna be so great that they're gonna say we cannot pass it up. I don't think it will happen in the next 6 months. It will be a while down the road. But I do think at some point they're going to say, "We can change generations of our family, and we're kind of tiring," or whatever. 

I think you were trying to paint MailChimp as in it for the long haul and they're never gonna sell the company and they just don't want to found multiple companies, this is it, this is their thing. I think its easy for them to say that now that they have hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue, I don't think they were thinking that way until recently and I bet if we pin Ben down, he would say the same thing. He was that guy probably hawking MailChimp back in the day.

I never was that guy. I've never had business cards. I hated that style. 

__WW:__ Well, I didn't say the words that Ben said, but I did put those quotes next to one another for a reason. I was less interested in comparing the culture of the business cards and pitches and more interested in putting these styles of business into context. You know, I did try to pin Ben down and he told me again and again that he doesn't want to sell the company, he wants to be a steward of it. His mindset is focused towards this style and management of the company that is very unusual in tech right now and that's what I was trying to contrast between those two quotes. I'm not saying one works and the other doesn't. I don't run companies; I'm not a CEO. I'm trying to illustrate what I think is an interesting contrast.

__MT:__ Fair enough. From the article's perspective, I think it was a fine enough example to use that quote. If you went to Atlanta Tech Village, you would have really seen a contrast from Ben, I mean it would have been glaring. But, to be honest, I think Ben's style is so different from anyone else, you don't even have to go there. It's just different than anyone's style. I think they're unique for any company and they're in the fortunate financial position where they actually can be unique. 

I mean, if they were based out in San Francisco, no one would join MailChimp and start working there. In the early days, they would never have been able to attract employees, because they don't give out equity. The reason why they don't have to do that here is that no one gives out equity. People in Atlanta don't even know what equity is, so they just join because it's a good company. They would've had a hard time taking off. Now, they're in the spot where they didn't give out equity, they own the whole company, they can put up billboards with no branding on it, just a plain blue billboard on Ponce because they make a lot of money and all that.

Scoutmob's one of MailChimp's bigger customers, and we've been with them from the first day we started Scoutmob. Our office is next to theirs. We love those guys, but I have heard rumblings from just people that want to chew off MailChimp's business. There are kinds of business guys that go crazy raising money like you're describing or whatever, and they want a piece of that pie. They're giving out equity and being aggressive and they're kind of the anti-MailChimp. There's an academic debate to be had about what will win over the long haul, and some people say that style's not going to win out. 

They're being slow and they're not being aggressive. So, it's gonna be an interesting 5 years to see if that style, which is a very much anti-VC, anti-quick growth, anti-whatever style will win or this other, aggressive, we're gonna throw money at it, we are gonna fund, and we're gonna take a lot of outside money and all that. I don't know who's gonna win."
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  string(9937) "       2014-04-22T18:05:00+00:00 I don't have business cards: A conversation with Michael Tavani   Wyatt Williams 1306426 2014-04-22T18:05:00+00:00  https://media1.fdncms.com/atlanta/imager/michael-tavani/u/original/10983760/1398189223-michael-tavani-mag.jpg
*COURTESY MICHAEL TAVANI
*Michael Tavani
While working on last month's cover story about email marketing company MailChimp, I noticed that Scoutmob founder Michael Tavani announced that he would stepping back from his day to day role at the company he helped found. To accompany that news, Tavani published a short mission statement on Medium, "Founders Gotta Found." 

Among other things, Tavani wrote, "When you find your calling, you follow it. All I ever want to do is start companies. So I'm excited about diving right back in. In fact, I'll be working on a few projects simultaneously  -  and hatching them at Scoutmob HQ. My Evernote file on future projects is gigantic. The goal is to start a lab where I can quickly crank out new products  -  it's so cheap to get to launch nowadays."

In light of the conversations I had with MailChimp's co-founders Ben Chestnut and Dan Kurzius, Tavani's comments were particularly interesting. In part because of their experiences in late 90s tech boom and bust, Chestnut and Kurzius expressed a real commitment and long term dedication to owning and stewarding the company they founded. Tavani was making an interesting case for creative founders starting businesses and getting out of the way. Scoutmob and MailChimp being two of Atlanta's most recognizable tech brands, I thought the contrast between their attitudes was especially compelling. In the final story, I ran a quote from Tavani's post above some comments from Chestnut about his discomfort with the current start-up climate. 

After the story came out, I noticed Tavani, who has since founded the consumer brand incubator Switchyards, tweeting that I'd gotten something wrong in the story. We agreed to meet up at Octane Coffee to talk about it.

Wyatt Williams: Well, you said that I got something wrong, and I'm curious, because I want to hear more if I got something wrong.

Michael Tavani: So, maybe this is just my take, but I think you probably used my story because it was maybe recent, and because it was like a high profile example of maybe a startup founder going out to start new things and then it was paired with Ben's comments. 

You know, I loved the story, but what I thought more than anything else was, if you went to Atlanta Tech village, 60 percent of the people there would be exactly what I think what you were trying to describe with me. They wear a blazer with their t-shirt underneath with the company logo and they're like, "Hey man, let me tell you about my SaaS application." I don't have business cards. I don't wear the t-shirt. I actually don't want to raise money at all for these next companies. I want to build lifestyle companies where we don't raise money at all, and the goal of that is to actually build. MailChimp just happens to be a huge lifestyle company, but they don't want to sell, because they're having a blast doing it. That's exactly the kinds of companies that I want to build. I'm not like, "Hey, lets build this SaaS app, I see an opportunity to build this thing and sell it in two years and make a ton of money and we'll either start another one or go to the beach and retire." 

So, I think that part I thought you had gotten wrong, you kind of used me as the example of the cheesy startup guy that's like pitching their business to sell, getting real big and sell and the passion for the company isn't there.

I actually - and I think some people would tell you this - I care a ton about brand and design and MailChimp is an amazing example of a company that cares abut brand and design. There aren't many in Atlanta that do. I want to start an consumer incubator that is only focused on the brand and the passion of the product and the craft of the product. Not, "Oh, we saw an opportunity to exploit a market, let's make a ton of money real quick," which I think is maybe the bad nature or the negative nature that you were trying to portray. You'll see a lot of that at Atlanta Tech Village. Had you went there, you probably would have gotten a ton of examples of exactly what you're describing. 

WW: Well, hear me out. I did use that quote from Medium because it was topical, but also because you were being honest in a way that people typically aren't. If I popped over to Atlanta Tech Village, I'd likely get a pitch, not someone explaining the purpose of their life. You put everything on the table in that post and, I think, made an interesting case for a founder like yourself being suited to starting companies but not running them in the long-term way that someone like Ben is. You wrote, "When you find your calling, you follow it. All I ever want to do is start companies. So I'm excited about diving right back in." I don't need to quote this back to you. So, help me reconcile this. That quote seemed to be a fair illustration of your business style and ambition.

MT: So, maybe there's probably a few different things going on. On some of it, I think you're exactly right. I don't know that the point Ben was trying to make in the following paragraph was, "I don't like guys that start things." The point that I remember standing out to me was about the guy that hands out business cards while, like, hyping their business. Just because you're starting companies doesn't mean you're like that. The reason I'm now taking a step backwards is because I love the back-of-the-napkin small company, and we're beyond that phase now. I'm just a founder, and everyone has a calling. We have a guy at Scoutmob right now that doesn't have a creative bone in his body. He's an operator, and that's not me. You know, he can't start companies and I can. I don't love the operations phase. 

I think MailChimp is in the phase where, at some point, I do think they're gonna get thrown, this is just my guess, they will get thrown a number, like a billion dollar number, a multi-billion dollar number. It's gonna be so great that they're gonna say we cannot pass it up. I don't think it will happen in the next 6 months. It will be a while down the road. But I do think at some point they're going to say, "We can change generations of our family, and we're kind of tiring," or whatever. 

I think you were trying to paint MailChimp as in it for the long haul and they're never gonna sell the company and they just don't want to found multiple companies, this is it, this is their thing. I think its easy for them to say that now that they have hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue, I don't think they were thinking that way until recently and I bet if we pin Ben down, he would say the same thing. He was that guy probably hawking MailChimp back in the day.

I never was that guy. I've never had business cards. I hated that style. 

WW: Well, I didn't say the words that Ben said, but I did put those quotes next to one another for a reason. I was less interested in comparing the culture of the business cards and pitches and more interested in putting these styles of business into context. You know, I did try to pin Ben down and he told me again and again that he doesn't want to sell the company, he wants to be a steward of it. His mindset is focused towards this style and management of the company that is very unusual in tech right now and that's what I was trying to contrast between those two quotes. I'm not saying one works and the other doesn't. I don't run companies; I'm not a CEO. I'm trying to illustrate what I think is an interesting contrast.

MT: Fair enough. From the article's perspective, I think it was a fine enough example to use that quote. If you went to Atlanta Tech Village, you would have really seen a contrast from Ben, I mean it would have been glaring. But, to be honest, I think Ben's style is so different from anyone else, you don't even have to go there. It's just different than anyone's style. I think they're unique for any company and they're in the fortunate financial position where they actually can be unique. 

I mean, if they were based out in San Francisco, no one would join MailChimp and start working there. In the early days, they would never have been able to attract employees, because they don't give out equity. The reason why they don't have to do that here is that no one gives out equity. People in Atlanta don't even know what equity is, so they just join because it's a good company. They would've had a hard time taking off. Now, they're in the spot where they didn't give out equity, they own the whole company, they can put up billboards with no branding on it, just a plain blue billboard on Ponce because they make a lot of money and all that.

Scoutmob's one of MailChimp's bigger customers, and we've been with them from the first day we started Scoutmob. Our office is next to theirs. We love those guys, but I have heard rumblings from just people that want to chew off MailChimp's business. There are kinds of business guys that go crazy raising money like you're describing or whatever, and they want a piece of that pie. They're giving out equity and being aggressive and they're kind of the anti-MailChimp. There's an academic debate to be had about what will win over the long haul, and some people say that style's not going to win out. 

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Article

Tuesday April 22, 2014 02:05 pm EDT

https://media1.fdncms.com/atlanta/imager/michael-tavani/u/original/10983760/1398189223-michael-tavani-mag.jpg

  • COURTESY MICHAEL TAVANI
  • Michael Tavani

While working on last month's cover story about email marketing company MailChimp, I noticed that Scoutmob founder Michael Tavani announced that he would stepping back from his day to day role at the company he helped found. To accompany that...

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