When a pal, a photographer, and I visited seven of Atlanta's best craft beer bars using only MARTA and our feet last fall, the idea was simply to see if it could be done. And if so, to showcase how much of ITP Atlanta's craft beer scene could be seen in one day via public transit.
Of course, I hoped other others might try it too. Perhaps the suggestion was a tad optimistic, but we included an easy-to-cut-out map readers could stick to their fridge or tuck into their wallet just in case. Lo and behold, after the story was published, a few folks mentioned to me on Twitter that they might try it.
Then, there was this tweet from about a month ago:
.@austinlouisray Me & some buds are doing the Marta Pub Crawl this Sat. Made a stencil for t-shirts on the cheap. pic.twitter.com/QcDUvD1mrr
- Joel Pitbulliams (@WoelAJilliams) May 27, 2014
I asked Joel to email me, to get the full story. "I loved the idea when I read your article, thought it sounded like a fun way to do a pub crawl without needing to rent a party bus or worry about having designated drivers," he wrote. "I'm actually getting married in a month so we'll be doing it as a bachelor party of sorts. The whole strip club bachelor party thing just really isn't my style. A day of drinking craft beers in some of the city's best bars is much more my speed. There's going to probably be about a dozen of us."
Joel and his crew rendezvoused at his Grant Park home for some pre-gaming around 2 p.m. on the big day, then walked to King Memorial Station, then headed east to Decatur. "We're using your article as a guide, but I imagine that once the drinks start flowing we may cut out a stop or two," Joel told me. I caught up with Joel post-crawl to get the lowdown.
Tell me how you decided to use the MARTA crawl story as your own.
I first came across the idea for a pub crawl using only public transportation through your article on the Creative Loafing website. I'm getting married in a little bit, and the MARTA pub crawl idea popped back in my head as I was trying to come up with ideas for a bachelor party. I ran the idea by a bunch of my friends and everyone thought it sounded like an awesome time. The great thing about a MARTA pub crawl is it doesn't require much advance planning. No party buses to book, no reservations to make, just round up some friends and get out there.
Whose idea were the t-shirts?
I came up with the idea to do t-shirts the week of the crawl. A quick Google search brought up a font that looked pretty similar to the MARTA logo, so I used my meager design skills to put together something. The shirts turned out awesome. An added benefit of the shirts was, as we were doing the crawl, we didn't really ever have to explain what was going on. People saw the shirt and that kind of explained everything.
How closely did you stick to the map? Did you encounter any difficulties?
We went to most of the bars you laid out in your plan, give or take a few. A group of 10-12 drunk crawlers is going to stick out like a sore thumb at any bar, and we didn't want to be a nuisance. We cut Porter off the route because it's not the biggest of places and we cut out Midway Pub because, locationally, it was a bit of an outlier. We also worked in a stop for Jack & Coke slushies at Victory Sandwich Bar in between Twain's and Brick Store in Decatur, and a stop at Brewhouse Cafe in Little Five. Our exact route went: Twain's, Victory, Brick Store, burger and ice cream stop at Zesto in L5P, Brewhouse, Manuel's, Bookhouse.
Did the transit hold up for you? Run into any bus or train issues along the way?
We actually only took MARTA twice, in and out of Decatur. We had every intention of hopping on a MARTA bus to get into Little Five at the Inman Park MARTA stop, but while we were figuring out which bus to take a rogue member of our group took off on foot. Which kind of forced our hand. Of course, it was on the walk over to Little Five that the rain that had been threatening all day finally came down. We got drenched. Fortunately, no one's electronic devices got ruined. We took a pit stop in Zesto to grab some food and dry off, and by the time we finished, the rain was done and we finished the pub crawl without any further incident.
I assume these are mostly all places you've been to before, as a beer fan. But did you discover anything interesting along the way?
I had been to all of these bars before and I'd consider them some of the best our city has to offer. At the very least, they are some of my personal favorites. I'd say one of the coolest parts about the day was how welcome we felt at every stop. Except for one outlier, the bartenders and wait staff welcomed us with open arms. The staff at each pub were even cool enough to sign the back of my shirt, making a nice souvenir for myself.
As a fan of craft beer it was awesome that at every bar we had a multitude of good beer options to choose from. It's entirely possible to do a pub crawl in Atlanta without having to sacrifice good beer for convenience. I was also pleasantly surprised at how little people used their phones during the crawl. Some pics got posted, but for the most part, people seemed really invested in the moment, rather than living on social media.
Any other weird things happen along the way?
At one point during our rain soaked trek to Little Five, we lost track of some members of our group. Texts were sent, and everyone knew the plan was to rendezvous at Zesto. We're all congregating at Zesto when in walks my friend Graham in a rainbow colored wig. Apparently, he had made a stop of his own at the American Apparel. We died laughing as we watched him order because it was just so random.
Overall, the pub crawl was a huge success and I can definitely see us doing it again sometime. All of us are guys in our mid-to-late 20s, but as far as I'm concerned, the MARTA pub crawl is totally doable for anyone. If we had taken a little time to figure out the bus routes better, the walking would've been relatively minimal and we would've been a whole lot drier.
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