On a balmy Monday evening in a cozy neighborhood not far from the industrial-sized tanks of the Atlanta Brewing Company, three intrepid entrepreneurs are cooking a 10-gallon batch of Belgian Pale Ale using a pot atop a propane burner. Juggling hoses, fittings and timers, they trade barbs, avert crises and entertain guests, who mill about casually, asking questions and sipping previous nights' brewings.
This is Monday Night Brewery, and it wouldn't be all that different from any other homebrewing party, except that Jeff Heck, Joel Iverson, and Jonathan Baker have bigger ambitions that brewing backyard suds for their friends. The three partners are actually working toward brewing commercially, and the weekly brewing parties are just part of their master marketing plan. They have a striking logo, a slogan inspired by their brewing and beer-drinking philosophy ("Weekends Are Overrated"), and an honest-to-God business plan that has them on track to start selling their beer in 2010.
"I think every homebrewer thinks at some point, 'What if I could do this commercially?'" says Baker, who serves as the company's Marketing Guy and Director of Mind Control. "We were throwing the idea around, not taking it that seriously, but we figured, at least let's explore it, so we started a blog, kind of put a stake in the ground. I think it became more real for us as time went on, and we started improving our beers and getting positive feedback from people. And we've gained a lot of experience brewing every week. Not many homebrewers brew that often."
We had a terrific meal at Atkins Park Tavern in Virginia-Highland recently. Chef Andrew Smith offers a mainly Southern menu with a heavy accent on seasonal produce, like this dish of sliced heirloom tomatoes, roasted Vidalia onions, fried eggplant, pickled okra and succotash of Silver Queen corn and field peas.
I also liked an entree special (right) of Virginia striped bass over creamed corn with zipper-pea pancakes.
Look for more in "Grazing" later this week.
(Photos by Cliff Bostock)
Here's a shot of my current obsession -- the fig and prosciutto pizza at Stella in Grant Park. It will be on the menu as long as the supply of figs, from a nearby back yard, holds up. The pizza -- a white, crispy one streaked with balsamic -- is served with a salad. Choose the arugula salad and feel free to pile it on the pizza for a slightly bitter contrast to the sweet figs.
(Photo by Cliff Bostock)
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