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Your Beer Guide 

How to go to find brew

Who says Georgia is a wasteland of beer? Thanks to the law that went into effect July 1 that allows higher-alcohol beers, and to the steady devotion of beer lovers, metro Atlanta is awash in good brews. You just have to know where to look.

Sat., Oct. 16 -- Beer drinkers rejoice! It's time again for The Great Decatur Beer Tasting Festival. From 1-6 p.m., on the Decatur Square, dozens of local, regional and international brews will be available for tastings. Your $30 admission fee gets you a commemorative tasting glass and benefits community projects. But get there early -- entry is limited to the first 5,000 people, and the festival always sells out.

Mon., Oct. 25 -- The Brick Store Pub in Decatur will host a "wake" to remember the short but valuable life of Dogwood Brewing. Eulogies commence at 5 p.m.

125 E. Court Square. 404-687-0990. www.brickstorepub.com.

Sat., Nov. 6 -- Georgians for World-Class Beer, the group whose energy helped change the law in Georgia to allow higher-gravity beers, is hosting its annual Georgia Craft Brew Challenge. Starting at 5 p.m., guests can sample 50 Georgia-brewed craft beers at 5 Seasons Brewing, 5600 Roswell Road. Tickets are $25 at the door, $20 in advance. Admission includes 10 six-ounce tastings. After that, it's $2 a sample. Go to www.worldclassbeer.org for more information about tickets.

Sat., Jan. 29 -- Sweetwater Brewing Co. is hosting the Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting from 5-8 p.m. at its brewery on Ottley Drive. Cask ale refers to beer that has been aged in a small wooden or metal container called a firkin. The yeast carbonates the beer, and the cask is tapped directly, so there's nothing added. It's beer as God intended. Tickets are $20 and limited to 200 people. Proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society. Keltic Kudzu provides the music. Go to www.classiccitybrew.com for more information.

Some beer websites

www.thebeercellar.com -- Run by local beer aficionado Jacob Johnston, thebeercellar.com is a kind of online newspaper for beer lovers in the Southeast. Johnston tells us that sometime in February, he will charter a bus to visit many of the area breweries, brewpubs and beer bars, so check his site for further details. Johnston's site also offers a good overview of metro Atlanta's varied brewpubs, which include Park Tavern, 5 Seasons, Buckhead Brewery, Gordon Biersch, Hops Restaurant, Max Lager's, and Rock Bottom Brewery.

www.classiccitybrew.com -- Owen Ogletree -- home-brewer, beer traveler, beer judge and Athens resident -- runs this site, which features commentary on local beer happenings, home-brewing tips, as well as his worldwide travels in search of the perfect beer. Ogletree also organizes the Classic City Brew Fest in Athens, which will be held Sat., April 16, 2005. More details can be found on his site.

www.atlantabeer.com -- A site still under construction, but already it includes links to local breweries, brewpubs and what specialty beers are on tap around town, as well as what new products local brewers are putting out.

The two remaining breweries within the city of Atlanta conduct tours of their facilities, which include tastings.

Atlanta Brewing Company in Midtown hosts tours every Friday at 5:30 p.m., followed by samplings. There's also live music.

1219 Williams St. 404-275-6701. www.atlantabrewing.com.

Sweetwater Brewing Company is in the midst of renovating its brewery, but it hasn't put a crimp in tours. They start every Monday and Thursday afternoon at 4:20, naturally.

195 Ottley Drive. 404-691-2537. http://66.83.181.250/db/sweetwater/web/.

Brew your own

Metro Atlanta has a small but impassioned home-brewing community. And area home-brew shops sell kits that even the worst cook can follow, leading to tasty beer in as little as a month. If you can boil water and wash dishes, you can make beer.

One shop that offers a host of home-brewing supplies is Beer Necessities (9850 Nesbit Ferry Road, Alpharetta). The store offers a variety of kits for making brews, from light beers to stouts, and a host of brew-making supplies, like five-gallon glass carboys for fermenting your wort. (Wort's the stuff you get after mixing your malt, grains, hops and water.) Call 770-645-1777 or go to www.beernecessities.com.

One of the most hospitable home-brew clubs is Covert Hops, currently run by Joe Gramig, who can educate you on the benefits of partial mash, the permeability of plastic, and the fastest way to chill your wort. Go to www.coverthops.com.

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