By all appearances the fourth annual German Bier Fest at Atlantic Station was a big success. I arrived around 3:30 p.m. to find lines at the beer tents extending across the roads and up to the sides of buildings, making it difficult to find the end. I spent most of my time walking with my beer to the back of the next line. Thank God for the clearly printed signs over each tent that were placed high enough to be visible from the back of the lines so I didn’t have to waste time standing in line for a St. Pauli Girl or a Warsteiner.
Not everything went as planned. Most brands only brought one style, some of which did not match what they had advertised on the festival website. I could not find the Schenkerla Rauchbier, and the kolsch ran out before I could get to it. I saw a sign for Schwelmer Alt and hoped that would satisfy my curiosity for German ales (most German styles are lagers). But when I got to the rail I saw cloudy, pale-yellow hefeweizens leaving the counter; Schwelmer was a no show.
All was not disappointment, however. My most pleasant surprise was the Ayinger Marzen. Orangey-gold with a nice aroma of molasses and slightly floral, spicy hops, this beer had a bit more hop bitterness than the typical Oktoberfest, leaving less of a syrupy taste on the tongue. Another find was the Monchshof Schwartzbier, which is available at the Alstadter restaurant in Helen. I may need to make the road trip to try a full liter of this beer. Mahogany brown and full of roasted malt flavors like cocoa and coffee, this “black pilsner” was nicely balanced with some hop spiciness and a moderately bitter finish.
I also got to try a Weihenstephaner Dunkel, the traditional dark lager from one of the country’s oldest breweries. Sweet, toasted grains (like a slice of dark bread) dominate the flavor and aroma, with spicy hops following. A fresh, vibrant quality seems to characterize the beers from Weihenstephaner. Their products are a welcome addition to Atlanta’s German beer selection.
In other local beer news …
The Creative Loafing Beer Club Bowling Party is tonight (Thursday) at 300 Atlanta. The first game is free and Heineken mini-kegs will be featured at a special price. Not yet a member? Register now!
The Spotted Dog in Midtown now has Wells Bombardier Premium Bitter on tap. This is the only place it is available in Georgia. Charles Wells Brewery and Pub Company operates over 200 pubs in England and is the largest independently-owned, family-operated brewery in the U.K. The Bombardier is a classic English bitter with a tangy hop flavor and rich malts. The 4.2 percent ABV makes it excellent for knocking back a few pints.
Although it is authentic in coming from a English craft brewery, the Wells Bombardier is served in a keg. If you want to try a traditional British cask ale (naturally carbonated and served at cellar temperature from a beer engine), then make your way to 5 Seasons in Alpharetta, where Brewer Crawford Moran will be featuring a British mild ale for tonight’s regular Thursday night cask ale. Better hurry, the cask is tapped at 5:55 p.m.
Talking Head columnist Jeff Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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