Beautiful-good. This is the name ancient Sumerians gave to the delicious biochemical concoction we now call beer.
Beer brings people around a table, fosters conversation, and opens an opportunity for communal fellowship centered around the shared experience of enjoying refreshing, satiating beverages together. Not to mention, this bubbly brew releases the feel-good hormone, dopamine, which makes these gatherings all the more jovial.
I imagine the ancient beer-creators of old speechless after their first ceramic bowl full, dodging yeast clumps and particles with bamboo straws, then exclaiming the two most flattering, celebratory adjectives they could think up to describe their new boozy discovery: “Beautiful! ….Good!”
Many of today’s leading breweries across the country respectfully use beer’s rich history as a foundational stepping stool to launch themselves toward more creative, modern takes on traditional recipes. With craft beer on the rise, more and more entrepreneurs and beer connoisseurs are building their own breweries and pubs, positioning their take on this ancient creation from a different and unique direction.
Here at Bellhops, we are scanning the country, seeking out the best breweries that capture beer’s potential and provide delicious brews to happy patrons (we’re a modern alternative to traditional moving companies in Atlanta, by the way). City by city, we’re doing the work and investigation so that you can focus on enjoying your beer and the people around you.
Now, we’re sweeping south and stopping at Atlanta, Georgia. Keep reading for the best eleven breweries in A-town.
Cherry Street Brewing Co-Op has been gaining attention not only from beer-lovers in the greater Atlanta area, but also from the U.S. Open Beer Championship, winning the Grand National Champion title in 2017. Staples among their taplist include O.A.S.I.S Imperial Stout, Ta Ta Pilsner, and Damebier Maple Strong Ale. And they continue to produce tasty and experimental brews that broaden and variant taplist.
Try this: Lost Angels Honey Wheat
This goldy brew sips slightly sweet from the fresh, local honey and Honey Malt. The soft sweetness balances nicely with zesty orange peel, which creates this brews bright auroma. It’s light, crisp, and refreshing with a smooth creamy feel. What more can we say? It’s delicious.
With lines trailing out their doors, Variant Brewing hit the ground running. Fans of the brewery love the local feel – owner and brewmaster, Matthew Curling, returned to his roots to build this brewery, and his comfort amidst Atlanta culture is obvious. The brewery doesn’t try to overplay much, they’ve created a beautiful, minimal taproom and leave the effort to the brewing. Four beers hold the floor year-round at Variant, and of these, their Seraphic Blonde Ale with caramel and honey notes steels a special, sweet spot in our hearts. But, if you’re lucky enough to catch them in the right season…
Try this: Cashmere
Variant’s New England IPA has been brewed with enough oats to create a soft and smooth mouthfeel. Evenly bittered with Cashmere hops, this brew gives off bright citrus and melon notes.
Driven by the values of simplicity and quality, Arches takes care to focus on each of the fundamental ingredients of beer – water, yeast, hops, and malt. Their water source, for example, that helps each of their brews deliver clean, consistent taste comes from their 450-foot-deep, self-installed well system. While most breweries treat their water, Arches builds different water profiles, adding a variety of brewing salts so that each batch of beer’s water matches its own unique region where that beer style originated. Arches brews haven’t been thrown together. And this dedication to taking the time and care needed to create well-crafted, to-style drinks certainly sets them apart from many haphazardly build breweries and beers.
Try this: Queen’s Weiss
Arches’ year-round Hefeweizen satisfies the cravings of any banana, bubblegum, clove-loving Hefe-head. Queen’s Weiss is light, balanced, and crisp, with a continuous stream of carbonation bubbling amidst its cloudy yellow haze.
Red Hare gives off a casual, family-friendly, jovial vibe, and their taproom is neither uptight nor sloppy. They’re relaxed and consistent amidst the many craft brewery try-hard trends. That’s not to say that they don’t put serious care and effort into their brews, however. Since opening in 2012, Red Hare has continued to win medals and acknowledgments for their tasty brews, and in 2016, they were named fourth best brewery in the U.S. Open Beer Championship. Their six year-round beers (like their SPF 50/50 and Long Day Lager) help Atlantans leave their stress and the door and refresh themselves with approachable, drinkable brews. While they stick to drinkability, it’s through their Seasonals and Rabbit’s Reserve Series that Red Hare gives their patron’s a taste of their more creative, experimental side.
Try this: Cotton Tail Orange Creamsic-Ale
Red Hare’s sweet seasonal ale smoothly combines vanilla and soft orange notes for a delicious bubbly treat. All that’s missing is the wooden taste of a rough popsicle stick to send you back to childhood summer days in the grassy backyard.
Atlanta Brewing Co., previously known as Red Brick Brewing, and before that known as…Atlanta Brewing Co., has rebranded and returned to its original name. Holding its place as the oldest craft brewery in Georgia, Atlanta Brewing clocks in at over 25 years and tells of a fascinating history (one that includes abandoned malt mills found in an England meadow, and near shut-down with the Georgia Department of Transportation). Their beers have stood the test of a quarter century, and their consistency and quality continues to win respect among Atlanta.
Try this: Cascadia Crescent
This classic, brewed-to-style dark, German lager combines Chinook and Centennial hops for a delicious smooth brew. Brewed as a Schwarzbier, Cascadia Crescent pours dark and creamy, but will leave the drinker more refreshed than the dark lager’s roasty cousin, the stout. Look for subtle notes of roasted coffee and chocolate amidst this drink’s smooth mouthfeel.
Although they’ve reached largest craft brewery in the Southeast, SweetWater prides itself on being the laid-back, good-times, easy-drinking brewery, and have kept that small, local feel. They’ve captured the hearts of quite a few since their opening in 1996, and since, they’ve grown to one of the largest brewing companies by sales volume in the country, ranking 15th in 2017. SweetWater’s early starts in Atlanta opened the waterways for many of the craft breweries that are now successful in the city. Now, you could stop any someone on the city’s streets, and they’d know SweetWater’s signature 420 Pale Ale. They may have even attended SweetWater’s 420 music festival with thousands of their Atlanta neighbors.
Try this: Through the Brambles
This funky aged ale is one of the many mouthwatering sours brewed in SweetWater’s barrel-aging facility, the Woodlands Project. Through the Brambles has been brewed with wild yeast and bacteria. It tastes of tart blackberries and rich oak.
For a brewery that publicly and proudly pushes beer boundaries and breaks the rules that block their way, Scofflaw places a strong priority on the approachability of their brews. This relationship of a rebellious attitude and agreeable beer is what has made Scofflaw stand out. Their relaxed, family friendly taproom is not your over-thinking, botanical-garden, twist-mustache-while-reading-Infinite-Jest atmosphere. Stuck on the side of their production facility, Scofflaw’s taproom/warehouse is decked with picnic tables, cinderblock, and graffiti. Oh, and a chain link, barbed wire fence, which separates the taproom from production, also hints at those rule-breaking, fence-climbing times most of us experienced at one point in our lives. Scofflaw’s us-vs.-the-rules, mischievous mentality creates a bond amidst its followers, and you will certainly feel warmly invited to their beer-loving side when visiting this brewery.
Try this: Sneaky Wheat
This golden Imperial American Wheat slips in 8.5% ABV amidst its wheat and spice flavors. Look for notes of orange and coriander as you sip this bready brew.
Orpheus‘ small beginnings did not predict the large impact they now have on the beer scene in Atlanta. Their bold, mythical can-art and beer names draw curious drinkers in to sample Orpheus’ funky inventions. Specializing in Sours and Double IPAs, Orpheus found unique styles that satisfied a niche market, and continue to create unique concoctions that satisfy the thirsty Atlanta crowd, like their Transmigration of Souls, a citric, highly hopped Double IPA, heavy on both bittering and aromatic hops, or their Atalanta, a mild, dry, and tart plum saison.
Try this: Sykophantes
If you love the dark fruit notes common in many Belgian style beers, you’ll enjoy this slightly tart sipper, fermented with Belgian Abbey Yeast. The brew’s tartness cuts the soft, deep sweetness from black mission figs, and keeps the dark candy syrup from cloying on the tongue.
With the widely respected Mitch Steele, previously from Stone Brewing, as brewmaster and co-founder, New Realm had no problem stealing the Atlanta beer floor in just the few months since opening. Storming in with innovative beers, and a tap list that spreads grins across all the HopHeads of the area, New Realm showcases Steele’s knowledge of, experience with, and regarded authority on brewing IPAs, like the Hoptropolis, an American IPA layered with Citra, Mosaic, Loral and Azacca hops or Hoplandia, a fruitier, drier IPA. Grab a friend, climb to New Realms top-floor balcony, gaze across panoramic views of the Atlanta skyline, and…
Try this: Kikimora
With an IBU that blows past what most of us can even taste, and weighing in heaviest in ABV of their mainstays at 8.5%, Kikimora may help you sprout a few chest hairs. That said, for such a strong brew, Kikimora is balanced, even to the point of featuring delicate flavors like floral, peachy, and tropical.
Starting off as a group of guys gathering on Mondays for a Bible study, Monday Night has grown to become a brewery with one of the best vibes in the city. Their passion and assertiveness to brew some of the best beer in the county, and their mission to create a gathering spot that deepens human relationships for the neighborhoods connected along the Atlanta beltline emits from each part of this brewery – from the taprooms and staff to the integrally crafted and quickly expanding lineup.
This theme truly does match one’s experience at Monday Night, sipping balanced, flavorful ales that pair well with their tasty food menu and fostering relationships that form so well over the shared experience of drinking and eating together. Their first barrel aged beer won them a gold medal at the The Great American Beer Festival, and their beers have continued to bring them recognition and awards since. With the addition of their second location, The Garage, Monday Night now has the space needed to continue providing the community with more of their sought-after brews. Next Monday, pull off that necktie and steer over to Monday Night for an evening of relaxation and fellowship.
Try this: Drafty Kilt
If you haven’t had the pleasure of sampling the thoughtful, balanced, flavorful brews at Monday Night, a good place to start is with their Drafty Kilt. This true-to-style scotch ale is full bodied and sweet with warming, robust, and roasty notes. And if you catch them in the right season, ask for this one on Nitro – the smoky flavors will blend into an even smoother mouthfeel and creamier taste.
Three Taverns has become highly respected among the crafty crowd because of their quality and variety. Their beer is their backbone, and its strength stems from founder Brian Purcell’s indulgence and respect for the drink. Purcell considers the brewing process an art, but gives great credit to the mystical aspect of beer-making. While he and his crew can and do thoughtfully design their recipes, none claim to know how a beer will turn out in the first batch. Instead, they set up the beer as best they can, and let the yeast, the sugars, the hops and additional ingredients do the mysterious and actual work of turning wort into beer. In 2018, they opened a second location, their Imaginarium, where they brew up and serve some of their most experimental and creative beers. But, whether in their original taproom, the Parlor, or the Imaginarium, you’ll soon experience Three Taverns’ genuine respect and care for the products they serve.
Try this: Lord Grey (seasonal release)
Who knew there could be a bridge between english tea and sour beer. Three Taverns has engineered the most balanced bridge, creating an ale that respectfully showcases both tea and tap, making sure that one does not overpower the other. Look for notes of lavender and bergamot, and take your time sipping one of the best beer-tea hybrids we’ve tried yet.
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