First Draft with Midway Pub co-owners Jonathan McIntyre and Carsten Green 

East Atlanta duo talks about beer scene and favorite brews

Four years ago, you might not have thought East Atlanta's scrappy populace was desirous of a fancy-beer place in its hood, but the Midway Pub has proven sustainable by scratching several itches at once. Its vast array of televisions ensure the sports lover is satisfied; its beer list, with 32 taps and more than 100 bottles and cans, rivals most any ATL-area bar; it's a five-minute-or-less walk to three music venues; its dog-friendly patio is arguably Atlanta's best and a summertime necessity; and its menu is ideal for afternoon/late-night snacking — tater tots, pretzels, a ridiculous grit cake barbecue stack — but features some more substantial fare as well, including Southern fried chicken and the unmatched Sandtown Trail Burger.

Co-owners Jonathan McIntyre and Carsten Green recently took a moment to chat with Creative Loafing about some of their favorite brews, Atlanta's ever-changing beer scene, and how they plan to continue their success in the years ahead.

Describe your first beer experience.

Carsten Green: I've always liked beer, going back to when I was very young, when my dad would let me take the occasional swig of his Old Milwaukee. My first real drinking experience involved lots of Budweiser in a barn, watching the Iron Bowl with my cousins around age 15.

Jonathan McIntyre: If this counts, I was 9 or 10 years old, riding around town with a friend and our fathers. Our fathers went into a store, but before they did, they told us not to touch their beers — which, of course, is exactly what we did as soon as they went into the store. We loved it.

What is your favorite beer style, and why? An ideal pairing for that style?

Green: This is tough, but if I had to pick just one, I would say a really well-made pilsner. It's such a versatile beer style that goes with so many activities and foods. For my perfect pairing, I go to my Danish roots with a Danish koldt bord, which is a type of smorgasbord, and a shot of Akvavit after a round of golf.

McIntyre: I know it may sound lame, but I really enjoy every beer style. It's just like music, film, or food — there is so much variety that there ends up being a time and place for every one. I do find myself, though, enjoying a nice stout with a whisky every now and then.

When it's time for a beer run, where do you go?

Green: For package, I usually go to Green's on Ponce or Ale Yeah! By the glass, I'd say Brick Store or the new Octane in Grant Park.

When you opened Midway, what were you hoping to accomplish? Four years later, do you feel you've done it?

Green: We wanted to open a casual neighborhood bar with a solid beer list and the best bar-slash-comfort food we could make. Chef Travis [McClellan] has done an awesome job with the menu, and I think our 32 taps and 100-plus bottles/cans represent craft beer quite nicely. I think we've been successful not because of any one thing Jonathan or I have done, but because of the amazing people we work with every day and the fantastic neighborhood we're fortunate enough to be a part of.

As Atlanta's beer scene becomes increasingly active and competitive, with new bars and breweries opening up on the regular, how do you plan to keep Midway relevant?

Green: By investing in our employees and our neighborhood. It's the people you work and socialize with that makes a business successful and life rewarding.

Next: Atlanta's best beer events in March

Atlanta's best beer events in March

Leon's Full Service Flight Night
When: Every Monday, 5 p.m. until it's 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.

Cypress Street Beer Geek Tuesdays
When: Every Tuesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Cypress Street Pint & Plate
Price: Depends how much you drink
Each week, this Midtown establishment features anything from tap takeovers to guest speakers, special brews to the company of beer aficionados.

5 Seasons Cask Night
When: Every Thursday, 5:55-7:55 p.m.
Where: 5 Seasons North and Westside
Price: Varies each week
A different guest taps a different keg of "real cask ale."

March of the Gypsies
When: Every Friday, 4 p.m. until it's out
Where: Aromas Wine & Craft Beer Bar
Price: Depends how much gypsy brew you drink
Highlighting beers from "gypsy brewers" like Mikkeller and Stillwater, Aromas will feature a new brew every Friday.

Milk Stout Nitro Rollout
When: Fri., March 2, 8-10 p.m.
Where: The Fred
Price: Depends on how much Left Hand you drink
The Left Hand Brewing folks will be on hand for meeting and greeting, along with their Milk Stout Nitro in bottles and 10 other Left Hand drafts on tap.

Beer Geek Brunch
When: Sat., March 3, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Where: Cypress Street Pint & Plate
Price: $20
Admission gets you one beer cocktail (Blanche De Bruxelles with Timmerman's Strawberry Lambic) and a three-course brunch menu. Other beers and food will be available à la carte.

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival
When: Sat., March 3, noon-6 p.m.
Where: Atlantic Station
Price: $25-$75
This traveling booze-and-pig-parts show debuts in Atlanta, bringing "60 beers, 40 bourbons + lots of BBQ" with it. Your humble correspondent thinks you should be apprised that its website features about as many breasts as it does beers.

Max Lager's March Beer Dinner
When: Sun., March 4
Where: Max Lager's
Price: $30-$40
This three-course meal pairs salad, trout, and upside-down cake with a trio of Max Lager's house beers or wine.

Ale Yeah! One-Year Anniversary
When: Sun., March 4
Where: Ale Yeah!
Price: Depends how much beer you buy
Anyone who shows up gets a commemorative pint glass, and Eddie is promising in-store specials and a truly epic tap list, including special brews from Terrapin, SweetWater, New Belgium, Red Hare, and more.

SweetWater's Brew Your Cask Off Festival
When: Sat., March 10, 6-10 p.m.
Where: SweetWater Brewing Company
Price: $35
Ninety competitors will vie for this year's title. As if that weren't enough, SweetWater's regular brews will be flowing, tours will occur throughout the evening, and Betsy Franck & the Bareknuckle Band will provide the live Southern rock.

Eagle and Lion Brewpub Grand Opening
When: Wed., March 14
Where: The Eagle and Lion
Price: Depends on how much you drink
This brewpub, which will specialize in cask-conditioned ales, is currently renovating the Old Cola building space in Griffin with hopes of a grand opening on this day.

2 Course 2 Beer Pairing
When: Fri., March 16, 6-9 p.m.
Where: The Marlay House
Price: $20-$25 (estimated)
Every third Friday 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.

GALS Two-Year Anniversary
When: Sun., March 18, 2-4:30 p.m.
Where: Twain's Billiards and Tap
Price: Depends on how much you drink
First Draft's January and December subjects join forces to celebrate GALS two-year anniversary.

Holy Mother of Gatherings 2012
When: Sat., March 24, noon-4 p.m.
Where: Brick Store Pub
Price: n/a
This annual event, which the Brick Store encourages attendees to RSVP to through BeerAdvocate, features tons of beers brought in by folks in attendance for sampling and sharing with everyone.

When: Sat., March 24
Where: Terrapin Beer Company
Price: $30-$35
Local music, charitable head shavings (!!), kid's activities, silent auctions and much more are promised at this annual breast-cancer awareness fundraiser. Ninety percent of the money raised will go toward breast-health programs in Athens at the St. Mary's Women's Diagnostic and Imaging Center.

Suwanee American Craft Beer Fest
When: Sat. March 31, noon-5 p.m.
Where: Town Center Park
Price: $10-$85
This second-annual festival promises more than 120 beers, live music, and special perks - catered food! private restroom! special casks! - for folks who shell out the extra 50 bucks.

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