If anyone has witnessed Atlanta's changing beer habits, it is veteran barkeep Pat Glass from the venerable Manuel's Tavern. He started pouring beer at Atlanta's drinking hole of record in 1976, and has spent the past 26 years as the afternoon barkeep.
Let me try a Sweetwater 420.
That's a very good choice, and one of our most popular beers.
A friend turned me on to Manuel's in 1978 when I was in college, and my first beer was an Andecker. It was a very exotic beer in a Budweiser era, a monastery beer, even. In fact, it's actually possible that you served me that beer.
If you came in during the evening, I probably did. They don't sell Andecker anymore. Pabst owned it, and the brand got entangled in some kind of licensing disagreement. It was a nice amber lager. If they'd held on just a little longer, beer trends changed and people started to drink beers like that. It's still made in the Andech Monastery outside of Munich.
How has beer drinking changed since you started working here?
Pabst and Andecker were on draft when I started. Now we have 18 different drafts. It's almost overwhelming now. And we've just started carrying bottles of some pretty interesting microbrews.
Has Atlanta's beer palate become more sophisticated?
Oh, yeah, definitely. When I started, domestic lagers like Budweiser was what everybody seemed to drink. Then came the light beer trend, and after that, the import trend. These days, microbrews are the biggest thing, and it's really great beer. Wheat beers are real popular, too. It's a light, summertime beer. Wheat beer is cloudy, it's unfiltered and you can see the yeast floating around. People put a lemon wedge in it.
When you started working at Manuel's, did you ever think you'd still be here 30 years later?
I absolutely wasn't planning on staying this long. When I got the job, I was finishing up school, and then I got married and had a kid. I fell in love with the place. It's an amazing thing -- there are people I knew as kids when their parents brought them in, and now they're bringing their kids in.
I've always wanted to ask, what's the deal with all the beer cans displayed on the wall?
Back in the '50s when Manuel [Maloof] first opened the bar, Atlanta was drawing people from all over the country. And they'd come in with beers from home and tell Manuel, "Hi, I'm from Wisconsin; you've got to try this beer." They'd sip on it, and then Manuel would sit the can up there. There's quite a collection. The bar itself came out of his father's place, a pool hall down on Pryor Street. It's over 100 years old.
Anyone of note you've served?
President Carter and President Clinton. Al Gore, James Michener -- Pat Conroy came in once, and who's the writer who wore the cowboy hat? James Dickey. Stephen Stills has been in, and Gregg Allman came in one afternoon.
What beer do you drink?
I like Harp and Heineken when I go out. If I'm sitting at home and watching a game or playing golf, I like Bud Light or Natural Light. When it's 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity outside, a lager goes down a lot easier on the palate. But right now, my wife has cut me off beer until I get my trim figure back.
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