Tag Archives: Avery

Hot’lanta!

Susan and I visited my cousin in the Atlanta area for an extended Memorial Day weekend. It was a ton of fun, but here are some of the highlights and thoughts on some of the urban issues down there.

The first day, we had to pick up my cousin at the airport at 10pm. He gave us his car to use for the day so we spent it in Atlanta (he actually lives about 20 miles north). Our first stop was lunch because we were starving. We went to The Underground and ate at The Irish Bred. The food was tasty and I got a Sweetwater 420 on tap there. It was a great start to a vacation. From there, we wandered around The Underground, which is basically a street underground that was turned into a mall, but it’s mostly independent stores, which is nice. It’s a neat spot, but nothing overly special, especially on a rainy Thursday afternoon when there’s nothing going on.

After leaving The Underground, we headed over to Sweetwater for the tour and tasting, which started at 5:30. Not being from the area, we didn’t know what to expect, but it was nothing like a northeast brewery. They literally don’t do anything until 5:30. So we sat in our car in their parking lot. When we got out, they had setup a tent and tables at the end of their driveway and there was already a line forming. All total, there were probably about 300 people there, mostly for the cheap beer. They charge you $7 for a glass or gave a free plastic cup that was small and you got 6 drink tickets for 6 tastings (2 tickets for a higher gravity beer). They claimed they limit the pours, but they don’t really. I got about 3/4 of a pint each time even though it was supposed to be 5.5 ounces. The tasting part was kind of like a frat party. The tour was cool, though the tour guide was a bit odd. She seemed to be a little beer snobby. It would have been nice if it was a brewer. They had a cool painted tank (pic to follow) for their experimental stuff and they had some barrels with sour and wild beers (pics to follow). It was nice to learn that they bought a large building next door. I’m hoping they’ll expand distribution. They make some great beers. I’d love to see them in New England. My favorites were Happy Ending (a great imperial stout) and their IPA.

We immediately left and headed to Atlanta Brewing Co., the brewers of the Red Brick beers. This was a much smaller group. Similar deal on the tasting, though you only got 4 each (which was fine for us since I was driving). Same deal with the size of the pours, though they were offering half a pint, but I still got almost a full pint. The tour was much smaller and more intimate and a little more informative. They have a lot of room to expand in their space, but they aren’t producing anywhere near as much beer as Sweetwater (they said they’re at 10-15,000 bbl per year while Sweetwater is at 80,000 bbl per year). Their brown ale is awesome. It has a nice roasted flavor with a hint of coffee.

Following the tour, we headed to Green’s Package Store to buy some beer to bring home and then to the Porter Beer Bar for dinner before picking up my cousin. The Porter Beer Bar is a must visit place for beer lovers in Atlanta. The waitstaff was great, the space is very unique (long and narrow, but very comfortable), and the food and beer selection is awesome. I had a Bell’s Third Coast Old Ale (Bell’s had only been available in Georgia for about 2 weeks when we arrived) with my brats and kraut, and Susan had the shrimp and grits.

The next day for lunch, we went to Five Seasons brewpub. It’s a chain, but the beer and food were good. The beer is nothing to seriously seek out, but it’s definitely worth trying if you’re near one. I had their pale ale, which tasted a bit grainy, but was still tasty. My wife had their stout, which was very good. The food was excellent. Their onion rings are the size of small donuts. The thing that surprised me is that they had a menu of aged bottled beers (their own) available. I have never seen that in a brewpub.

We headed to Athens on Saturday for the day. Our first stop was lunch at Trappeze. Everything here was very good. They had a great selection of beer. I got a Bell’s Expedition Stout, which was on the house because I only got 1/2 to 3/4 of a pour as it was the end of the keg. They had an extensive beer menu, which was all craft and looked incredible. Unfortunately, I didn’t want to drink a whole lot so early in the day. Athens is a pretty cool little city. It’s the location of the University of Georgia, which is big, making it a college town. It was very much like New Haven or Burlington. It’s very artsy with a big music scene (after all, REM hails from Athens). After wandering around for a bit, we stopped at the Mellow Mushroom for some beer and let the women check out some clothing stores and try to get my cousin’s kid to take a nap. They had a pretty impressive beer selection for a chain pizza place. I got some good local beers there. Finally, we ended up at the Last Resort for dinner. None of us were overly impressed by it, but it did seem popular. They had a great sweet tea and my trout was really tasty.

While in Athens, we all visited the Terrapin brewery. This was the same deal as the others. You buy a glass and get so many drink tickets. This place gave out 8 drink tickets, but only had 5 beers available. Terrapin makes some awesome beers. Their Rye Pale Ale and India Brown Ale were both awesome. They’re the one brewery I wish I brought back more beers from. The tour was very informative and given by their VP. They are looking to expand and I told him to consider RI. Hopefully, they will.

On Sunday, we went to Summits Wayside Tavern, which boasts the world’s largest selection of beer. How true that is, I have no idea, but they had something like 214 taps and even more beer in bottles (though I imagine some of that beer overlapped). I was not overly impressed other than when I looked at the bar. The wall of taps is pretty intimidating. A lot of the taps were not craft beer, though Susan and I did get some good beer. She had the Old Dominion Bourbon Barrel Stout and I had the Highland Oatmeal Porter (though they got mixed up and I ended up drinking hers and she mine). They were both tasty beers that I can’t get in New England. The restaurant is basically a family restaurant. The service was lackluster and the atmosphere was pretty low brow. I would have preferred a nicer restaurant with smaller beer selection, but it was worth going to once.

We then headed back to RI on Monday. We did eat at the Sam Adams Brewhouse in the Atlanta airport and saw that the Akron airport had a Great Lakes brewhouse in their terminal (didn’t get a chance to see if I could buy beer to bring back with me). All in all, it was a fun trip. We brought back almost a case of beer (Red Brick Brown Ale, Red Brick Double Chocolate Oatmeal Porter, Terrapin 90 Schelling, Terrapin Monk’s Revenge, Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout, New Belgium 1554, New Belgium Fat Tire, and Avery Brabant).

Urban issues: Atlanta was designed for driving. Highways are 6-7 lanes wide in 1 direction. Roads in the city were mostly 2-3 lanes wide. The city is filled with sprawl. It’s a new southern city. There are neat areas (5 Points is a cool neighborhood), but it’s a lot of sprawl. Athens, on the other hand, is a well designed city, though I didn’t notice any public transportation there, but it is walkable.

Stouts and Porters Beer Dinner

It probably isn’t fair to be reviewing this one on the heels of the Nikki’s Beer Dinner from last month as that was a tough one to beat.  The Stouts and Porters Dinner at Julian’s on Sunday night was a great time and they did top it one way – entertainment.

In the middle of the dinner, they had a bunch of people from a Chinese dance school come in and do a little thing with a lion that ate and regurgitated some lettuce.  It was accompanied by drumming.  It was really fun and bought a nice new dimension to the dinner.  In addition, Brian from Julian’s also attempted to wear a different color ruffled tux shirt with each introduction for the courses.  Anyway, on to the review.

The first course found us drinking Buffalo Belgian Stout.  I had tried this once before from the bottle at a warmer temp and it was quite enjoyable.  It wasn’t nearly as good off the tap, unfortunately.  It was served with chestnuts and cranberries, which actually paired quite nicely.

The second course was a salad served with Avery The Czar.  The beer was awesome.  It was the first time I had tried it.  I found it a little odd that the strongest beer, at 12.2%, was served with the salad.  It had a lot of depth to the flavor with some dark fruit and anise.  The salad was greens, golden beets, herb encrusted pistachios, and crispy sweet potatoes.  It paired alright with the beer.  Neither over-powered the other, but I didn’t find them overly complimentary.  However, I also didn’t find them to be so opposite that they went poorly together.

The third course is honestly slipping my mind right now.  The beer was a whiskey barrel aged Ten FIDY from Oskar Blues.  This was quite tasty and added a nice dimension to the Ten FIDY without giving it a strong whiskey/bourbon flavor as happens too often when beers are aged in those types of barrels.

Following that was an intermezzo.  Again, the food is slipping my mind.  The beer was Great Divide’s Oak Aged Espresso Yeti.  This is easily one of my new favorite beers.  I managed to try some of this at Track 84 on Thursday.  It’s very tasty and has quite a bit of depth to the flavor.  The espresso is muted enough that it’s not overpowering, but strong enough to really complement the other flavors of the Oak Aged Yeti.  If you can find this, you need to try this beer.

Now onto the main course.  As with all the Julian’s beer dinners, there were 2 options.  Luckily, this time Susan and I picked different options.  I opted for the crab corn butternut squash ravioli, which came with an oak aged Smuttynose Robust Porter.  It turns out that this is actually called “JD” Oak Aged Robust Porter, the JD presumably standing for Jack Daniels.  Boy was that beer strong with the whiskey flavor.  Luckily, some of that flavor died off as the beer warmed, bringing out more of the porter flavors.  The regular Robust Porter is one of my favorite porters.  It’s very flavorful and has a great body.  This rendition of it wasn’t really up to my liking as I’m not big on strong whiskey flavors.  The meal was perfect, though, again, it wasn’t a perfect pairing.  If anything, the strong flavors of this beer took a little away from the food.  The other option was a roasted duck dish served with Hoppin’ Frog’s B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher, an oatmeal Russian imperial stout.  I found my dinner to be better and the beer to be different enough that I was really glad I chose what I did.

Finally, we made it to dessert, which was also a choice of 2 options.  I opted for a pumpkin creme caramel with a ginger cookie.  The beer was Meantime Coffee Porter.  This was the best pairing of the night.  The beer is excellent, and the dessert had just the right flavors.  It had a great consistency and the mix of pumpkin and ginger went well with the coffee flavored porter, which has a nice coffee flavor that is not overwhelming.  The other option was a float made with Young’s Double Chocolate Stout.  Again, I’m glad I chose what I did.  It was the better of the 2 options.

Overall, this wasn’t the best pairing, but the beers were fantastic and the evening, as always, was a ton of fun.  Many thanks to Brian, Mike, and the rest of the great staff at Julian’s.  I wish I remembered those other 2 dishes, but I just can’t.  If someone reading this remembers, feel free to post it in the comments.

Next month’s beer dinner is curated by JB Masters from Tigris Beverages.  I won’t be able to make this one or even the following one, which will be curated by Dave from Track 84.