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.
I happened to be out in Goderich with friends so we visited the local brewery, called Square and later another local brewery called Cowbell not too far down the road.
Square is the only one in Goderich itself. Square has a small tasting room with no air conditioning. They had four beers on tap but I only had a full pour of the pilsner and hoppy pale ale.
The pilsner was fairly average with a crisp dry finish and light floral hops. The vienna lager I tried a few sips of my friend’s beer and that was enough for me. The beer had a dark cherry color and in taste was mostly burnt toffee and marshmallow. The toffee was dominant and a bit too burnt for my tastes.
Fog Day, the hoppy pale ale was nice and dry with tons of hop aroma and not much bitterness. It had notes of citrus and overripe papaya. The overripe flavors dominated, and were a bit off putting. Finally the black lager was quite good with notes of raisins, caramel, and mild roast with a dry finish. This one might even satisfy the stout drinkers.
Square is much cheaper to take beer to go in crowlers so if you are in the area for a while I recommend stopping by to try a few beers and taking your favorite home in crowlers. While I enjoyed the beers, the lack of air conditioning suggests that I probably wouldn’t return if I was in the area.
Cowbell is a massive brewery in Blyth, a town about 25 minutes drive from Goderich. They have a very impressive facility that suggests they are backed by some big money. It is a full restaurant and has its own big canning line so you will find their beers all around the Ontario area. The prices pushed me towards full pours because of how much they charged for a full 5ounce taster.
I started with the Abbey Bragott IPA, an IPA made with honey. It barely tasted like an IPA to me. The beer was bitter with prominent honey dominating and some mild bitter finish. There wasn’t a lot of hop aroma in the beer and I didn’t really care for the honey. If you are there for the big hops, you should try some other beers instead. The Boxing Bruin IPA, their core IPA, was good and resinous with prominent pine flavor and a good dry finish without being overly bitter. I had a can of this the day before visiting the brewery and it was similarly resinous with some prominent grapefruit as well. It is a solid IPA and worth trying if you want the hops.
The Mango Milkshake IPA was delightful. The mango was present but not overpowering or prominent. The lactose was similarly subtle leaving a creamy base hazy IPA with tons of grapefruit and citrus hop flavors. This was the crowd favorite of the day and my favorite as well. It is a very refreshing IPA. I finished with the imperial stout bragott, also made with honey. Unlike the IPA before it, the honey was not overpowering and balanced nicely with the rest of the beer. The beer had mild roast and notes of cherry, grahm cracker, and mild honey with a nice dry finish. If my husband had joined us he would have liked this beer quite a lot.
Overall Cowbell is an impressive facility and had a solid lineup of beers. If you are in the area it is well worth stopping by to walk around the place and experience a few beers on tap before grabbing cans to go.
Lineage also has a full kitchen. They have a large outdoor area and a fairly sizable indoor seating area near the bar area. I tried six tasters while I was there. They certainly know how to make a good modern IPA.
I started with their standard IPA which had a nice soft body with a dry finish. While the beer did not have a ton of hop aroma, it had a resinous hop character to it that balanced nicely with light herbal hop notes and cracker malts. Compared to this, I much preferred the hazy pale which was nice and soft and bursting with flavor of citrus, pineapple, and tropical fruit. This was a very nice hazy pale.
The passionfruit Berliner Weiss had a hazy yellow appearance and was lightly sweet with strong passionfruit character. The base beer had some notes of white cake and a mild tart finish. The beer was nicely balanced and easy drinking without lingering on the tongue. The Amber ale was soft and dry with light caramel malt character and mild herbal hop notes. It was well-made, but I would have preferred a little more body and roast to it
The Saison was nice and fruity with notes of white wine, mild herbal hop character, and a nice dry finish. This was an excellently balanced and delicious Saison. The Imperial Stout was thick and sweet with prominent flavors of molasses and light dark chocolate and date notes. While well-made, it was not as impressive as the previous two Imperial stouts.
Passionfruit Berliner Weisse
Hoof Hearted Brewing
Hoof Hearted was my fourth stop of the day so I only had four tasters. The indoor area was fairly large and loud so I decided to sit outside where it was much quieter. Though they were still generally an enjoyable place to go, they were my least favorite of the four for the day.
I started with a farmhouse IPA which had vanilla cake notes for the base with a prominent herbal hop bite. I didn’t find this beer to be particularly hoppy or flavorful but it was decent enough and had a dry finish. The Helles logger was strongly hoppy and far too bitter for the style. The hop flavors were resinous and floral, also not normal for the style. I’m not really sure what they were going for here but it did not impress me.
What surprised me and impressed me most was their beer called everybody wants some Denali (hops). It was delicious and bright with notes of citrus, pineapple, and lightly bitter on the finish. My previous experience with this hop has tended to be more herbal so I was quite happy with the flavors they extracted from it. I ended with a double IPA with lactose and vanilla added. Sadly, it was not very hazy so it did not really work that well. The beer was creamy and lightly sweet with mild citrus hop character but compared to the other one, it was not very enjoyable.
From my brief exposure to the beers at Hoof Hearted I get the impression that they are one that likes to follow trends but have difficulty executing most of the time. Thankfully the DIPA with Denali hops was one beer where they nailed it. So if you are looking for an excellent hazy IPA, it is still worth visiting to see what they have available.
Wolf’s Ridge Brewing Company
My first stop on my visit was Wolf’s Ridge brewing Company where sadly I was not able to try any Hoppy beers because they had run out recently. The brewery felt more like a restaurant and bar than a brewery but I got the vibe of a proper place that respects good cocktails and knows quality beer.
I tried two Saison beers while I was there. The regular version had prominent herbal dry hop character with fairly viscous mouth feel and was under-carbonated. It seemed to focus more on the herbal hop character than on the yeast or the malts. This was not really my style of Saison. The barrel aged version on the other hand was bright with notes of lemon lime effervescence with citrus peel bitterness on the finish. The beer delightfully danced on the border between citrusy and juicy.
The barleywine I tried had a nice soft mouthfeel with a fairly thin body and stayed more on the sweet side without being overly bitter. The beer had flavors of caramel and plum with mild rye spice sweetness to finish it off. This definitely one of the better barley wines I have had recently. The coffee milk stout was tasty with strong coffee roast on the nose and flavors blending nicely with burnt toffee, roasted coffee and a smoky finish that lingers on the tongue. While the beer was well done, I found the smoky finish a bit too much for me.
I finished with the Imperial Stout which was quite nice and blended nicely with flavors of bitter chocolate, marshmallow, and subtle cherry notes. The beer hid its alcohol quite well and had a nice soft and creamy body. This was quite the excellent Imperial Stout and along with the version at seventh son, was up there as my favorite for this trip. Overall I had some solid beers at Wolfs Ridge although I wish I could have tried some of their IPAs. I ended up bringing some of the Imperial Stout home from my trip and made sure to only give my husband two of the 4 bottles because it has a thick chocolate character to it that I rarely find in my local stouts.
Barrel Aged Saison
Seventh Son Brewing
In contrast with Wolf’s Ridge, Seventh Son is much more open and the only food available is with a food truck. They had fairly large amount of seating outside in the sun and a fairly open bar area as well. They had quite the variety of beers on tap so I went with the ones that sounded most interesting to me to get a good sampling.
I started with Gleen IPA, which was resinous and had a nice dry finish. The beer had mild notes of citrus hops and white wine. The beer was somewhat subdued in hop aromas but it was nicely balanced and easy drinking. Similarly, the double IPA, though slightly higher in alcohol was just as dry. It had notes of marijuana on the nose and the beer did not have significant noticeable bitterness on the finish or prominent hop aromas. Still I could tell it was excellently made.
The Brett pale ale had a cloudy orange color with some mild funk from the Brett. The beer was also super dry and not particularly bitter, showing a nice balance between everything. The Imperial Stout was thick with notes of bitter chocolate, mild raisins, and a mild lingering sweetness. This beer also hid the alcohol quite well and was my other top favorite Imperial Stout of the trip. I was overall impressed with the ability of the Brewers to make such bone dry IPAs.