I recently found myself 1200 miles from home in Atlanta with a completely free evening and made it my quest to scope out the local brewery scene. As any 21st century person would I took to the web to assist in determining how to spend this serendipitous moment.

SweetWater

SweetWater Brewing Company continued to pop-up in searches, news articles, and reviews. This place has clearly brought craft brewing into the mainstream in the southeast and promotes itself as one of the highest production craft breweries in the country (according to the Brewers Association they were #18 in 2014 – Summit Brewing was #28 in comparison).

The brewery is located in an industrial park north of the midtown area of Atlanta. The “tours” run from 5:30 to 7:30 and the charge when I attended was $10 for a souvenir pint glass, tour, and 6 half glass pours of whatever beers they had on tap – This is how they get around not being able to sell their beer, they sell tours and serve you beer! While they do run their tours throughout the night, chatting with the crowd and servers I found that many people use the brewery as a gathering place to drink a decent amount of quality craft beer for a decent price without ever taking the opportunity to go back into the production area. Fortunately for me this meant that I was able to get my own private tour of the brewery!

Dank TankHaving visited a fair share of microbreweries I was awestruck by the shear scale of this place.  Upon entering, there are racks upon racks of barrels (whiskey, bourbon, gin, tequila) where all kinds of miraculous brews are waiting for just the right time to be tapped.  In the entry area I also came across the “dank tank“, which is basically the pilot vessel for the brewery with an interesting character immortalized on the front.  According to an employee this is an homage to the ambiguously gendered prostitute who would hang around the brewery’s old location and would occasionally complete odd jobs around the brewery for beer.

The rest of the tour covered the usual equipment.  In passing they were emptying one of the fermenters and the remnants from the dry hopping were drained all over the floor.  I have had many exposures to wonderful hop aromas from both home brewing and drinking various high IBU brews, but having pounds upon pounds of hop sediment drained right before you is definitely a sensory experience my olfactories will remember.

Now to the important part, the beers! Like many popular craft breweries, a majority of SweetWater’s beer offerings had higher IBUs (EPA, IPA, double IPA). One beer that I did not try that was popular with many at the brewery (predominantly female or self proclaimed “regular beer” haters) was a blueberry infused pale. Here are notes from what I was able to sample:

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Georgia Brown: Knowing the hop onslaught was coming I went for the brown first. Malty, slight biscuit and nut. Pretty decent brown and a good way to start the evening.

Hop Hash: A “hop hash” infused double IPA.  While I admit I was first apprehensive that the “hop hash” was just a gimmick I was a believer after trying this brew. Strong hop aroma (piney and subtle fruit) well balanced with the malt.

420: This is their flagship brew.  Being an EPA I went in knowing full well that Summit EPA is a standard at home and that the bar was high. Body was a bit lighter than the Summit, distinct hop difference.  Overall I would drink this again but not unique enough to be a “go to” instead of the Summit (if they actually distributed in MN).

IPA: At this point I will admit my palate was pretty blown and my senses were recently rocked by the dumping of hop sediment from a fermenter. Overall it was a solid IPA with a good amount of citrus and medium-light malt profile.

Final Recommendation: If you happen to be in an area where SweetWater distributes, pick some up, and if you find yourself in the Atlanta area, I highly recommend a visit to the brewery. You will not be disappointed!

 

With a tearful eye this GNO member reports that a fine Twin Cities dining establishment with one of the greatest burgers we have come across in our adventures will be closed for several months (if not longer).

The Nook in St. Paul had a fire last night that originated in the kitchen and burned through the bar area.  We can only hope that the rebuild is fast (and potentially adds some extra seating).

A moment of silence for the Nook and for the classic table top Ms. Pac-Man arcade machine that often doubled as a table extension…

http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2010/12/14/overnight-fire-destroys-popular-st-paul-bar/

Land of fried foods and plenty of things to wave the stick at once you are done eating them. This post is a stomping grounds for the Man Cuisine Crew to share their likes and dislikes as far as fair food at this years “Great Minnesota Get-Together”. (more…)

The manager smiled as we walked in, perhaps knowing that a group like us would be sure to test the menu and generate a small economic recovery project for the town of Savage.  The setting was cabin lodge and the place looked to be recently remodeled. Families, couples, and small groups nearly filled the place and we had noticed in the past that the parking lot is often near full as we drive by.  Don’t let the slow new flash-enabled web site fool you, this is a down-home kinda place. Bathrooms were way beyond our expectations and experience. I believe the floor was even level! (more…)

During an extended evening walk from one end of San Fran to the other three of us were able to investigate the local color inside a few San Francisco neighborhoods. Brief details are in the boxes in the graphic below. Click to download the full map. If you are in town we’d recommend all of them, for different reasons.  Enjoy-

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AN ODD OUTING FOR THE GROUP-COLLEGE BARS ARE NOT REALLY OUR STYLE BUT THIS ONE CRIED OUT TO US FROM THE PAST. WHEN WE HEARD ABOUT THE REMARKABLE BEER LIST WE HAD TO GIVE IT A TRY.

SOME COMMENTS ON THE PLACE

THE PLACE WAS QUIET FOR A 7:30 MONDAY NIGHT BUT THE HELP WAS GREAT.  QUITE LIKELY THE ONLY PLACE WE HAVE BEEN WHERE THE WAITRESS REFERRED TO ONE OF THE BEERS (A SAISON) ON THE LIST AS TASTING LIKE PISS. ON HER RECOMMENDATION WE MADE ANOTHER CHOICE. A GREAT NIGHT OVERALL, THE TIME PASSED QUICKLY AND BEFORE WE NEW IT A BEAVY OF GREAT BURGERS HAD BEEN TOSSED DOWN ALONE WITH SOME OF THE BEST PALES AND HOPS WE’VE HAD. THE PLACE LACKED THE GREAT AMBIANCE OF THE BLUE DOOR BUT IT HAD A MUCH BETTER BREW LIST AND A BIT OF A BROADER MENU. (more…)

AFTER THE GREAT NIGHT AT THE NOOK IN ST. PAUL IT SEEMED ONLY RIGHT TO TRY ANOTHER PLACE IN THE SISTER CITY.  THE BLUE DOOR HAD RECENTLY OPENED AND IT WAS GETTING SOME PRESS.  TREVOR VISITED DURING  A SCOUTING MISSION AND HAD GOOD THINGS TO SAY.

SOME COMMENTS ON THE PLACE

VERY small.  but lively.  Trevor arrived just ahead of an ambulance- look for his story soon. The booth was good sized and the blackboard was was great to write on.  We left our rating on the wall.  Very busy but not frenetic, We never felt rushed even thought people were waiting. Good mix of ages with a bit of overrepresentation from the college crowd. Private schools nearby but no plaid in attendance.  We felt great  as we left, of course the four course beer meal may have had some influence (pitchers are available).   The group had better bladder control than usual, we’ll have to wait on the bathroom report from the guys who used it, although there was often a wait. (more…)

SIX OUTSTANDING CHILI RECIPES WERE SERVED UP IN THIS YEAR’S EVENT.  SCORES WERE CLOSER THIS YEAR WITH MANY MORE PEOPLE PARTICIPATING IN THE JUDGING. TREVOR USED HIS SKILLS AS A TA IN THE MASTER’S STATS CLASS TO CREATE A MINNESOTA-FRIENDLY SET OF LIKERT SCALES TO HELP THE JUDGING PROCESS.

LAST YEAR THE JUDGE CREATED TWO CATEGORIES FOR WINNERS: BEST RESTAURANT-STYLE CHILI AND BEST ALTERNATIVE CHILI. THIS YEAR  THERE WERE TWO CATEGORIES CREATED: BEST OVERALL AND BEST OVERALL WITH WITHOUT THE RATING FOR HEAT.  THE SECOND CATEGORY WAS DESIGNED TO REMOVE THE WEIGHT OF THE HEAT CATEGORY.  BOTH WINNERS WERE STELLAR.  AS WITH LAST YEAR, THOSE LOWER ON THE SCALE WERE ALREADY TALKING ABOUT NEXT YEAR. (more…)

SOME COMMENTS ON THE PLACE

YOU WALK IN AND CROSS AND OPEN FIELD OF TABLES TOWARD THE BAR. A LEFT TURN THROUGH AN OPENING IN A HIP WALL LEADS YOU TO THE NON-SMOKING SECTION. HOWEVER, THERE’S PLENTY OF SECOND HAND SMOKE TO GO AROUND. CROWD IS MOSTLY LOCALS IN THE SECOND THIRD OF LIFE. DID WE MENTION THAT THEY DON’T TAKE PLASTIC? DID WE MENTION THE LOUD MUSIC WITH LESS THAN 12 PEOPLE IN THE WHOLE PLACE? (more…)

SOME COMMENTS ON THE PLACE

ALTHOUGH WE MIGHT ARGUE ABOUT THIS I BELIEVE THAT THE FIRST KAHN’S OPENED IN THE DINKYTOWN AREA OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA BACK IN THE MID-SEVENTIES. I KNOW OF THREE LOCATIONS- RICHFIELD, ROSEVILLE, PARK RAPIDS. THIS PLACE IS NEAR THE TOP OF OUR LIST AND NOT JUST BECAUSE IT IS ALL YOU CAN EAT!

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