These are indeed perilous times. Two out of three things I hold precious are drying up like worms on the pavement: the gas in my sub-compact, along with the money which I so need to spend in this economic nightmare.
But amidst panic and tension, hope still shimmers brightly for students and fellow citizens of Atlanta, and that hope is beer.
I refer not to the tepid, anemic beverage that occupies taps at ‘average Joe’ sports bars or comes from the keg at some underaged Techie’s poor attempt at a dorm party (which is illegal, I may add), but to a local industry that takes pride in being cozy with the capital of the South.
Just for the uninformed, craft brewing (also synonymous with micro-brewing) differs from major brands by marketing small volume, yet more flavorful lagers, ales, stouts and hefeweizens. This gives anybody vast freedom to whet their imagination in making endless varieties through the addition or subtraction of basic ingredients, thereby putting hundreds of underground favorites onto shelves throughout the States.
The ABC (Atlanta Brewing Company), situated smack dab in the right atrium of Atlanta, is perhaps the most prominent craft brewery in the city. It has a 15-year history of winning medals and giving Atlanta the reputation of being the Southeast’s master of brews.
Being the oldest, it started off as a small establishment until it finally grew and relocated to larger holdings, meaning patrons get more of that fabulous Red Brick Ale it’s known for.
Just to become better acquainted with the subject, my tongue has led me to experience Atlanta Brewing Company’s tour of their facilities, which is held twice a week; though in all actuality, it’s more of a crowded, pleasant get-together (with a dozen taps to serve out samples), that finally ends with the guides’ elaboration about the millennia-old process of brewing and bragging rights on how greatly they’ve paraded as number one in the Big Peach.
Though rarely graced by lady luck’s presence, I had the fortune of running into Charles Gaston, the brains behind this year’s amazingly popular Oktoberfest batch (who happens to be a Yellow Jacket graduate).
“It is one of the best jobs you could have…and I have also had a number of great opportunities,” Gaston said.
“We try to show people that there are many great beers available from around the country that are much more interesting and complex than the major brands,” Gaston said.
But just to let you know, strong competition does exist for the flagship of Atlanta’s craft brews: Sweetwater mesmerizes the masses with their complex, citrusy 420 pale ale, while the Terrapin Brewing Co. in Athens catches the attention of those who enjoy a Golden Ale on a crisp autumn night.
“More specifically, there are actually great breweries here in the Southeast, and even as close as just down the street,” Gaston said.
So although it’s perfectly fine to go the mainstream and find comfort knowing you’ve saved some green for necessities by purchasing domestic American lager, nothing really beats the knowledge of supporting the local economy (in more ways than one) while experiencing how Southerners like to dash their own crisp, hops-drenched formula into the market.