Decatur, GA: A Paradise for Craft Beer Lovers in Metro Atlanta

Chase Medlin: Brewmaster at Twain's Brewpub & Billiards

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Historical Victor H. Kriegshaber House (Wrecking Bar Brewpub)

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4 oz Tasting (Wrecking Bar Brewpub)

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Cave Dweller Double IPA, Criminal Sin IPA & Sweet Potato Chips (Twain's Brewpub & Billiards)

Organic Beef Burger (Twain's Brewpub & Billiards)

Three Taverns Brewery

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Wild Heaven Craft Beers Brewery

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"Beer? Ugh. No Way!"

That was my initial reaction to beer whenever people asked me why I refused to drink it. Well, the following is the story of a convert.

My husband and I moved to Atlanta, GA a while back for a work project. Never having lived in the TRUE South, I had little idea of what to expect- gastronomically speaking. Imagine my delight when I discovered that Atlanta is a foodie paradise. For example, I had never eaten grits before (let alone with shrimp), and now, shrimp & grits is one of my favorite meals. And don't get me started on traditional southern barbecue (with all the "fixings")...my mouth immediately waters at the thought of slow cooked smoked ribs and pulled pork.

Back to the topic of BEER...

Being a hardcore wine drinker, I had no interest in beer other than in a historical sense (it was brewed and consumed by ancient civilizations). Up until last year, I had only drunk ONE beer in my entire life- and it was in London back in January 2000 at Waxy O' Connor's Pub (cool place). When I told the English bartender that I knew nothing about beer but wanted to drink like a local, he asked me if I liked red wine. I said YES and he poured this reddish, nutty, creamy-headed ale that I actually enjoyed. Wish I could tell you what it was, but being a wine snob I didn't bother to write it down.

So, it is in this sorry beer-deprived state that I arrived in Atlanta. The locals I met were quick to talk of breweries and the "awesome" craft beer being produced in the area. My ears would flap over and I'd cringe as I remembered the unappealing "skanky" odor from the commercial beers my father and college flat mates drank. Finally, one Atlanta local said to me, "Craft beer is totally different than commercial beer."

Wanting to get the full cultural experience of Atlanta, my husband and I went to a local pub and did a craft beer tasting. Wow. Craft beer really IS different than commercial beer! I soon discovered that I am an IPA girl (the "hoppier" the better) and recently enjoyed my first sour/citrus pilsner.

WARNING: craft beer is fattening. No one bothered to inform me of this little detail, so in the beginning of my quest to try every craft beer in the city, I was drinking quite a bit (for research purposes, of course). In time, I began noticing my pants getting tight. I was nurturing a proper "beer belly" and freaked out. I drink less beer now and I've lost the weight, but that was a close call. Another thing about artisan craft beer is that the alcohol content is usually much higher than commercial beers. I've had some with ABV as high as 9% and 10%, which is pretty strong.

Places like the Wrecking Bar Brewpub in Little Five Points (located in Atlanta, not Decatur but too good not to mention) offers 4 oz beers (also 12 and 16 oz), so you can taste a few without filling up too much (or falling off of your seat). Located in the Victor H. Kriegshaber House (beautiful 100+ year old historic home), the Wrecking Bar Brewpub is a very trendy hangout. The annual Halloween parade in "Little 5" is a blast and people hang out at the Wrecking Bar Brewpub afterward (yes, in costume). In addition to their in-house brewery, the food is prepared by an executive chef and just about everything on the menu is made in house (and delicious). My favorite beer at the Wrecking Bar Brewpub is Victor IPA. Cut & pasted from the menu: "...flavors of tangerine, mango and a hint of lemon citrus. Hoppy, yet very well balanced by the red malty body of the beer. 6.7% ABV."

Please note that there are many little "pockets" throughout the city offering cool hangouts, good food, and beverages. Twain's Brewpub & Billiards is close to home and one of our favorite pubs for high quality beer and tasty pub fare. You can play pool, table curling or just chill in the dining area and gaze at the colorful tropical fish tank. On Wednesdays and Sundays from 3pm to close, they offer farm to table organic beef burger (with side of fries or salad) and an 8 oz craft beer for only $10. Seriously good, seriously cheap. My 2 favorite beers at Twain's Brewpub & Billiards: Criminal Sin IPA. Cut & pasted from the menu: "a rich juicy IPA, beautiful orange in color, with a wonderful fruity nose. Six malts and six hops, with a good dose of Citra and Galaxy, and Amarillo hops were used in the brewing of this wickedly good beer. 7.2% ABV." and Cave Dweller Double IPA: "Boom! Blasting aroma and flavor in this Double IPA! With juicy notes of citrus and hints of tropical fruits. Brewed for the hopheads! 9.6% ABV."

During our last visit to Twain's Brewpub, we had the pleasure of meeting Chase Medlin, the brewmaster responsible for creating all those unique and delicious craft beers. After a nice chat, I learned that craft beer is becoming increasingly popular in Italy. In fact, he kindly shared the following article with me (thanks Chase!): LINK: http://allaboutbeer.com/article/falling-in-love-with-italian-beer/

Finally, for the hardcore craft beer lovers there are the actual breweries, which are open to the public. We have visited 2 of them so far: Three Taverns Brewery and Wild Heaven Craft Beers Brewery. Both offer generous tastings for a reasonable price. You can tour the facilities, too. These breweries are popular venues for special occasions like birthdays.

Wrecking Bar Brewpub: http://www.wreckingbarbrewpub.com/

Twain's: http://www.twains.net/category/kitchen/

Three Taverns Brewery: http://www.threetavernsbrewery.com/

Wild Heaven Craft Beers Brewery: http://wildheavencraftbeers.com/

The moral of the story? Don't knock it 'til you try it. If an "anti-beer" person like me gave in to artisan craft beer, anything is possible. When I return to Florence this fall, I'll go back to drinking my favorite Tuscan wines. Until then, I'm looking forward to tasting some lighter fare over the summer (Belgian pale ales and maybe even ciders). As always, thank you for reading.

C. De Melo
Author & Artist
www.cdemelo.com

Cozy, Historical Interior of Wrecking Bar Brewpub

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