Think about beer. Go ahead, just think about it. Think about your favorite beer being poured into a glass vessel at the right, chilly temperature. You may notice the aroma first or, perhaps, the way sunlight reflects through the liquid's golden color. Think about the first sip, the touch of frothy head and rush of effervescence, the flavor balanced between sweet and bitter notes. Now, look up. You're in the brewery where this beer was brewed. Bags of grain are piled in the corner and bottles are stacked in another. In front of you, a stainless steel tank holds thousands of gallons of this precious liquid. You can hear the light gurgle of liquid fermentation. This is a transcendent experience, one that you will measure all other experiences of drinking beer against. You have tasted the fruit off the vine.
That's the fantasy I had about visiting a brewery. Until recently, I had never visited one, which should be an embarrassing thing for any Atlantan to admit. To say that you live in Atlanta and have not visited one of the many fine establishments brewing beer in Atlanta is like saying you haven't been to a game at Turner Field. It is fun and cheap and simply something that you, as a local drinking citizen, should do and have done. (Sober people, consider yourselves exempt from my judgment.) The number of breweries in the metro area keeps rising, too. By the end of the year, you won't be able to throw a rock at a warehouse in Metro Atlanta without hitting a bottle of Belgian-style doppelbock. In an effort to correct my embarrassing lapse in experience, I suggested to my editor that I research a survey of local brewery tours over the course of a long weekend. That's a nice way of saying I convinced my employer to pay for me to get shit-housed four days in a row. If you have a similarly generous employer, I suggest you do the same this summer.
You must know that you can't just walk into a brewery in Georgia at any given time and pay for your pint like any old pub. Owing to a bizarrely specific set of regulations set by the Georgia Department of Revenue, attending a brewery tour in Georgia is like performing a complicated mating ritual specific only to the indigenous beer drinkers and brewers of our region. Most importantly, the brewery is not actually allowed to sell beer. It can (and does) sell soap made from beer, dog treats made from beer, beer branded cozies, specially shaped bottle openers, T-shirts with Grateful Dead references, Frisbees with foil-stamped beer logos, and commemorative pint glasses into which a brewer may pour many free samples of beer. Remember, the beer is the part they're not allowed to sell, so you can ask for a free plastic cup into which your free sample of beer will be poured. You may bear in mind that the regulations do not prevent anyone from being called an asshole.
The rules don't end there. The brewery may not give away free beer for a period of longer than two hours in a single day. During those two hours, the total amount of free beer poured into a commemorative pint glass may not exceed 32 ounces, though the brewery may subdivide that total into however many samples they like. All of this must happen under the contrived pretext of a free brewery tour, despite the fact that the people attending don't seem to really do much actual touring of the brewery. It is simply the rule: no free tour, no free beer. Look up Chapter 560-2-7-.01 if you want the full accounting.
In practice, this whole experience doesn't much resemble that fantasy of a carefully considered sip of beer as much as happy hour in an industrial warehouse with a hundred of your thirstiest friends. I took notes on my journey.
6 p.m. Thurs., April 24
I arrived a half-hour late at Monday Night Brewing, mostly due to getting stuck in traffic after work. Judging by the well-dressed crowd already sipping beers on the back patio of the brewery, most of them came straight from the office, too. The brewery is at the dead end of an industrial road that backs up to a lush green patch of the Atlanta Waterworks reservoir. Inside, they've done a fine job of decorating, including a wall of ties that has been captioned via a neon sign with the punny slogan, "TIE ONE ON," but everyone wanted to be outside in the sunny greenspace of the back patio. It didn't hurt that the Good Food Truck was outside, too, serving hot dogs in French toast buns, a specialty it calls the "Poodle."
The assembled crowd impressed me in part because Monday Night Brewing may have the most socially confusing name in beer right now. Just imagine what it is like for people to call their friends and invite them to the brewery:
I have a question specifically for Jeff Moore. email@example.com
No offense meant at all to other bars/restaurants/pioneers down on Edgewood. My statement about taxis…