A few days prior to my visit to Atlanta I checked the various brewery web sites and discovered that Monday Night brewing was releasing some new barrel aged stouts the weekend of my visit. They sounded lovely and a few friends expressed interest in trading as soon as I showed them the list. I was hesitant because I had never tried anything from this brewery before but after the first taste of the beers, I immediately bought as many bottles as they would sell to me.
Given the high alcohol of the beers they had just released, and many others on the board, I only ordered a full taster of one of the beers in the Situational Ethics family. From my few sips having a splash of each, they were some of the most complex barrel aged stouts I have tried and would easily compete in San Diego’s crowded market. While other breweries aim for loading their beers with tons of adjuncts, subtlety was the name of the game here. The rum barrel aged stout with maple for example did not have an overpowering maple character. And they are better for it.
Near the end, I ordered a full taster of Situational Ethics aged in Sherry barrels. This is one that may initially put some people off by the powerful jammy wine character that you taste up front. But once you explore beyond the first tastes, it develops character of caramel and dark chocolate. While the beers were all excellently balanced in flavor, the Situational Ethics series was the most flavorful of the bunch.
I also tasted three other big beers, a barrel aged scotch ale, a barrel aged stout aged in tequila barrels, and an imperial porter. The BA Scotch Ale was delicate and had prominent notes of marshmallow and raisin with a dry finish and the perfect amount of sweetness. Overnight Celebrity, an imperial porter was roasty with notes of dark chocolate and a super smooth mouthfeel. This was what my husband enjoyed at the brewery because it was slightly lower alcohol than the big barrel aged stuff. Finally, Como Te Llamas, aged in tequila barrels had a nice blend of spices, dark chocolate, and mild tequila.
The only lighter beer I tried was their brett IPA, which was one of the better examples of the style I have tried. It was super fruity with notes of ripe guava and candied lemon with just the right amount of funk and low bitterness on the finish. I considered trying other beers while I was there but other breweries awaited so we moved on. But after visiting other breweries in this trip, Monday Night stands out as the best by a long shot. If there is one must-visit brewery in Atlanta, it is Monday Night Brewing.
A few notes about the space, the Garage location is a massive warehouse space with some outdoor seating as you walk up to the door. There is limited seating and most of it is bar seating but thankfully we managed to snag a couch.
Come for big barrel aged stouts. This seems to be their forte though they did have other standard styles as well.
My trip to Georgia was mainly to visit some breweries in Athens, but since I was flying out of Atlanta it made sense to hit a brewery there before leaving. To avoid driving with too much beer, I kept to one brewery and so I went with my friend’s recommendation to try Scofflaw. They are in an area of Atlanta a bit North West of downtown, a ways away from anything. That didn’t stop people from coming out and enjoying beer though. The crowd was quite respectable.
During my visit their tap list was almost all IPAs with the exception of an imperial wit and a barrel-aged strong ale. All of the IPAs I had were quite well-done, juicy but not hazy, in the modern West-Coast style. I might have even brought back some cans of the IPA they had available if I could have done so while still buying the strong-ale bottles, but since I had to pick I got the strong ale. Your preference between the varioius IPAs they make will come down to your hop profile of choice. Their double IPA was also quite impressive, fruity, mildly sweet, and not really boozy at all.
The barrel-aged strong ale was good and medium body, mildly sweet, with a good mix of caramel and light whiskey character. It was also barely boozy despite the high alcohol content. I left with a bottle because it was quite well-done and the price was right. If you are in to the juicy (not hazy) style of IPAs, Scofflaw hits the spot nicely and should satisfy any hop-head who ends up in Atlanta.
Come visit for modern-style IPAs and barrel-aged stouts
Athens Georgia is a small college town about an hour and a half drive East of Atlanta. I visited mainly for Creature Comforts and while I was planning the trip I read about The Southern Brewing Company and their barrel aging program. People rave about the Tropicalia IPA from Creature Comforts, though when I tasted it, it didn’t blow me away, perhaps because I assumed from the name it was going to be a hazy IPA. I had two IPAs at Creature Comforts and they were both excellent examples of the West Coast style of IPA, hop-forward, low malt bill, and crisp dry finish while not too bitter.
What really impressed me though was their berliner-weisse. I didn’t drink any of the base while I was there but when I visited they had a number of versions available. Both the Terry Swish, with three kinds of fruit, and the dry-hopped variant were fantastic. I enjoyed both of them so much that I brought back a six pack of the base to explore it further. I enjoyed the cans so much that I wished I had brought back a second six-pack. This is the new standard against which I will rate berliner-weisse beers for some time.
San Diego breweries sell a lot of fruited berliner weisse and gose but usually they go a bit too light on the fruit for my tastes. This one was bursting with fruit and so good that I got two of it out of the tour. The dry-hopped version was perfectly balanced, with tons of hop aromas and no bitterness. The fruity hops went nicely with the citrus kick of the gose.
A note on the way breweries sell beer in Georgia, or at least while I visited, they can’t sell beer directly. Instead, they sell you a tour that includes a glass and six six-ounce pours. They have tours available but you don’t have to take one. It is their way around the silly laws. Other silly laws limit your ability to take home beers, so that you can’t buy more than 72 ounces of beer to go in one day per person. The tour thing should be changing soon for smaller breweries based on a law that has already been passed, which would allow them to sell directly. It will be interestin to see if they start doing taster flights like other tasting rooms.
Creature Comforts makes some great beers and everything I tasted when I visited was well-made. I also brought home a bottle of one of their sours to try later. They have a large open tasting room with plenty of seating inside and outside and it can get quite busy on weekends. I happened to visit on a particularly busy weekend because it was graduation time for many and they celebrated by going to breweries.
The Southern Brewing Company
Compared to Creature Comforts’ West Coast style IPAs, everything hoppy I had at The Southern Brewing Company was more malty in the classic style. I didn’t even bother with their IPA once I realized it was as malty as their pale ale. There is nothing wrong with the style but I don’t particularly enjoy drinking it. The pale ale was really well made and a good mix of fruity hops and biscuit notes from the malts.
What I really enjoyed was their Berliner weisse and their Cherokee Rose. The Berliner weisse was complex and balanced. The Cherokee Rose tasted like an earthy saison with some mild funk. They also had a barrel-aged saison on tap that was funky as expected and nicely done. I also enjoyed their mexican-chocolate stout that was left over from Cinco De Mayo. It was appropriately balanced and medium body with notes of spice and mild hot pepper heat on top of a nice roasty stout.
I wanted to try some of the sours they were selling bottles of but besides the saison I couldn’t try them. Thankfully I found a bottle of their peach sour at a local shop and brought one of those bottles home along with their bourbon barrel aged stout. Southern also had a nice tasting room with an even larger lawn area for people to hang out in the sun. It is a shame California has such restrictive laws that require enclosed spaces at breweries or we could have something similar. They used the space to put on live music and it was good and relaxing. The crowd was even more insane at Southern.
If the sours from both breweries turn out as good as I hope, it makes for a great visit to enjoy the laid-back town of Athens and have some great beer while you are there.
Since writing this post, I tasted the peach sour and barrel-aged stout I brought back with. The peach sour was well-made though pretty standard for the style. The barrel-aged stout was also quite tasty though a bit thin because I assume they blend it down after aging in the barrel. It is a nice change from some of the thick sludgy stouts I see a lot of. Both were nicely done but not something I would make a separate trip to buy bottles of.