First Draft with Ale Yeah!'s Eddie Holley 

Despite hating his first encounter with beer, the Decatur store owner now loves a Russian Imperial Stout

Describe your first beer experience.

My first beer experience was when I was 5. It was my mother's boyfriend, an avid Budweiser drinker. I can still see the can. I remember thinking, "This. Is. Terrible. Why do grown-ups drink this stuff?" I've been turned off to big-box brands pretty much ever since.

Where is your favorite place to enjoy a beer?

I must give you two answers, and not necessarily in this order. 1) One of the booths at the back of the Porter. The shotgun part of the bar, not the turn that goes to the back door. There is privacy and it's a world-class beer bar. 2) Any seat at the Brick Store. I am partial to the downstairs bar and one of the booths up in the Belgian bar, but this is where my beer education began.

What is your favorite beer style and why?

Russian Imperial Stout. I love a full-bodied beer, prefer a little more ABV, and not being a coffee drinker, I have to get my coffee and burnt chocolate flavors from beer! Russian Imperials are chewy, bold and just remind me of cooler temps, my favorite time of the year.

An ideal pairing for that style?

Like a lot of folks, I like what I like and I think a big stinky cheese and a nice dessert goes perfect with a stout. You have similar flavors in the dessert and they can be a little sweeter, and I think that cheese is just a perfect pairing with beer. Give it to me on a board with some fruit preserves or in a mountain setting about to submerge myself in a hot tub.

Aside from the passage of Sunday sales, what would you like to see happen to Atlanta's beer scene going forward?

I would love to see brew pubs to be able to sell growlers or their beer bottled to their customers. I'll get in trouble with some folks for saying this, but the distribution system we have in Georgia is somewhat detrimental to the growth of the craft-beer culture. Not all, mind you, as many of our distributors are forward thinking and work within the system provided, but it makes sense to me that breweries should be able to self-distribute their products in order to grow our community and give the brewers additional revenue streams necessary to attract new breweries. We are currently the eighth largest craft-beer community (got that from the Onion, so it's foolproof) and should have a number of breweries that reflects that number.

Next: Atlanta's best beer events in September

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