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

Atlanta's best beer events in September

Leon's Full Service Flight Night
When: Every Monday, 5 p.m. until they're out
Where: Leon's Full Service
Price: Varies
Leon's serves up myriad beer and wine flights (five or six of each) with food pairings.

Hop City Beer Tastings
When: Every Wednesday, 5:30—7:30 p.m.
Where: Octane
Price: Free
Octane hosts different beers from Hop City Beer every Wednesday.

The Fred's Gypsy Takeover
When: Fri., Sept. 9, 5 p.m.
Where: The Fred, Sandy Springs
Price: Depends on how much you drink
In celebration of Mikkeller and Stillwater, two "world-class brewers known for traveling the globe in search of other outstanding brewers to collaborate with," the Fred will feature several beers from each on this tap-takeover night.

The Porter Beer Bar's third anniversary
When: Sat., Sept. 10, 11 a.m.
Where: The Porter Beer Bar
Price: Depends on how much you drink
In celebration of its third year of business, the Porter will offer an "amazing lineup of draft beers" as a well as a Porter-branded growler to the first 100 customers in the door.

The Great Decatur Grilled Cheese Cook Off
When: Mon., Sept. 12, 6 p.m.
Where: Brick Store Pub, Decatur
Price: $55, ticket sold at Brick Store only
Five Decatur restaurants — Brick Store, Leon's Full Service, No. 246, Mac Magee's and Cakes & Ale — compete for fun and prizes. Two winners will be chosen, one by a panel of judges and one by the people in attendance.

Wrecking Bar GALS Benefit for Brittney Fox Watts/Georgia Organics
When: Mon., Sept. 12
Where: Wrecking Bar Brewpub
Price: n/a
This Georgia Ale and Lager Sirens (GALS) Benefit is for Brittney Fox Watts who was shot and killed in a Midtown parking garage in July. Ten percent of the night's proceeds will be donated to Georgia Organics on Watts' behalf.

Fourth Annual Rome Beer Festival
When: Sat., Sept. 17, 1-5 p.m.
Where: Heritage Park, Rome
Price: $25
Each ticketed participant get a 16-ounce commemorative glass for sampling more than 60 beers. The festival, which is in its fourth year, will also feature local bands and benefits the Rome Area Council for the Arts (RACA).

Terrapin/Brasserie Franches Montagnes Beer Dinner
When: Mon., Sept. 19
Where: Trappeze Pub, Athens
Price: $65
Attendees will enjoy six dishes complemented by Terrapin and BFM selections. Both brewmasters will be on hand and the recent Terrapin/BFM collaboration beer will also be unveiled.

The Marlay House's 2 Course 2 Beer Pairing
When: Wed., Sept. 21, 6-9 p.m.
Where: The Marlay House, Decatur
Price: $20-$25 (estimated)
Every third Wednesday of the month, the Marlay's chef creates two unique dishes to go with two unique beer pairings. Call 404-270-9950 for further details and/or RSVP.

Grayson Blues & Brews Festival
When: Sat., Sept. 24, 2-6 p.m.
Where: Grayson City Park, Grayson
Price: $25-$30
This second-annual festival features 150 beers from 50 different breweries, as well as live music from a few acts, including local-favorite headliners Delta Moon.

Terrapin's Hop Harvest Festival
When: Sat., Sept. 24, 4:30-8:30 p.m.
Where: Terrapin Brewery, Athens
Price: Depends on how much you eat and drink
In its second year, Terrapin's Hop Harvest Festival includes educational guest speakers, a dozen casks of dry-hopped ales, food and hops freshly harvested from the Terrapin garden.

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