A new addition to the family means I’ll be drinking closer to home these days, and although I am not far from the beer Mecca of Decatur, I found there is a little upgraded hole-in-the-wall right down the street from me in Clarkston that serves up neighborly hospitality, as well as a fine selection of choice beers. The Brockett Pub House and Grill on East Ponce de Leon in Clarkston has taken over the former Barbara Ann’s, given it a modest make-over, sent the smokers outside to the new patio, and are attracting a mix of clientele as diverse as the little town where it is located. On a recent weeknight, singles, couples, and groups of blacks, whites, Hispanics, Africans, and probably others were shooting pool, knocking back beers at tables, or trading stories at the bar.
Being JOTP (Just Outside the Perimeter) in an area that was once small-town country, but is now teeming with immigrants, refugees, African-Americans, and shallow-pocket hipsters, the Brockett Pub has to cover its bases. Along with the two pool tables, there is a bank of video games and plenty of TVs tuned to sports that keep the working-class stiffs peering over their pitchers of Budweiser. The house stereo is tuned to Dave FM, but periodically someone drops some quarters for some hip-hop from the jukebox. There is a full bar with Hennessey, tequila and Tennessee whiskey for the old Barbara Ann’s crowd and the apartment dwellers across the street.
And for the gentrifiers, there is a glass-door cooler with rows of bottled beers in every major variety. For such a small place, the selection of beers is excellent: Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Stout, Highland Gaelic Ale, Avery IPA, Dogfish Head Raison d’Etre, Paulaner Salvator, Westmalle Dubbel and Tripel. A dozen taps are well selected too, including Terrapin India Brown Ale, Flying Dog Double Dog, Sierra Nevada, Anchor Porter, Widmer Hefeweizen, Franziskaner Dunkelweisse, Guinness, and Sam Adams Summer Ale, along with the usual Bud, Bud Light and Michelob Amber Bock. I had just missed a keg of Red Seal, which bartender Carrie informed me had gone fast. Apparently the beer geeks have gotten a bead on this place.
The Brockett Pub is owned by John Gagne, a former manager at Summits Wayside Tavern in Snellville, who has brought the little brick watering hole back into the family. It seems that the place was opened in 1980 by his father-in-law, George Karakos, as George K’s Tavern. A framed flier in the bar advertises the grand opening that featured 25 cent beers. The Karakos family was involved in a number of Atlanta bars and restaurants starting in 1933 with George’s Café in downtown Atlanta and later Atkins Park in Virginia-Highland.
The friendly vibe of a family-run tavern emanates from both customers and servers. Greetings come from bar stools the minute someone comes in, and conversation runs from the usual sports and weather to serious conversations about politics and work. Bartenders greet regulars by name and chat with customers between pours. It’s kind of like hanging out in your best friend’s basement, and you don’t have to clean up when you leave. The Brockett Pub has the usual bar promotions, like the requisite trivia night (Thursdays), happy hour specials, and an upcoming Lowcountry boil (Aug. 25). But how many sports bars have a beer tasting? Beer guru Ron Smith hosts one every Saturday at 3 p.m. at Brockett Pub. See you there.
Talking Head columnist Jeff Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love pork belly.
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