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Beertown, U.S.A.: Atlanta

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Sweetwater's craft crowd

The Big Peach’s bountiful beer options continue to get more fruitful.

Georgia’s antiquated distribution laws haven’t made it easy, but small-scale breweries are breaking down barriers and establishing themselves in this fast-growing metropolis. Names like SweetWater and Terrapin may have put Georgia on the beer map, but the new craft breweries are adding diversity to local taps: Three Taverns is making modern odes to Belgian tradition, while BlueTarp’s BantamWeight has become one of RateBeer.com’s top ambers in the country. In a sophisticated Southern city where taste buds are refined, the beer bar is set high.

Three Taverns Brewery: Opened just last year, Decatur’s Three Taverns twists tradition with American spins on Belgian-style beers. Sip a hoppy IPA or powerful imperial stout in The Parlour, the Old World-inspired tasting room done in weathered planks, aged timbers and brickwork. The brewery tour (included with the $12 tasting fee) gives the inside scoop on operations. 121 New St., threetavernsbrewery.com

Twain’s: This laid-back Decatur brewpub, restaurant and pool hall has been brewing its own ales since 2006. Draft offerings range from a smoky red ale to hoppy and citrus-infused wheat ale. Order up fried green beans or poutine to keep your beer company or indulge in a messy barbecue burger. 211 East Trinity Place, twains.net

Red Brick Brewing: Atlanta Brewing Co.—the state’s oldest operating craft brewery—became Red Brick Brewing in 2010. Public tastings in its Westside warehouse take place four times a week, giving ample opportunity to fill your glass with Hoplanta IPA, Laughing Skull amber ale or one of its seasonal creations. 2323 Defoor Hills Rd., redbrickbrewing.com

Argosy: This dark, funky East Atlanta eatery with a giant owl-eye mural claims more than 30 beers on rotating taps and nearly 80 bottled beers. Join the hipster-ish crowd for beer dinners, flight nights and chow like hot dogs, wood-fired pizzas and seasonal mains like grilled hanger steak. Stay until the wee morning hours. 470 Flat Shoals Ave. S.E., argosy-east.com

Brick Store Pub: This no-frills mainstay off Decatur’s town square is free of televisions, neon and major domestic beers. It is, however, full of American craft, German and English beers—about 17 drafts and 75 bottles rotate frequently. Upstairs, the Belgian Beer Bar offers eight rotating taps and more than 120 Belgian or Belgian-ish bottles. Don’t leave without devouring a warm and salty Bavarian pretzel. 125 E. Court Square, brickstorepub.com

BlueTarp Brewing: Spend your Saturday at The Tarp selecting among the black-as-night Last Place Stout, the lemon tart Fünk Weisse or the Irish red-inspired BantamWeight Ale (the first beer launched by the small Decatur brewery in 2012). Whatever you choose, down it while relaxing in the 2,250-sq.-ft. outdoor beer garden. 731 E. College Ave., bluetarpbrew.com

SweetWater Brewing: Join the droves of beer groupies and whet your palate with crisp SweetWater 420 or a seasonal favorite like Road Trip pils. A recent expansion upped brewing capacity to 100,000 barrels a year and added a sleek second-floor tasting room overlooking the bottling line. Relish six tasting tickets for $10 before picking up a groovy tie-dyed shirt from the souvenir shop on the way out. 195 Ottley Drive, sweetwaterbrew.com

5 Seasons Brewing: Brewing nearly 70,000 gallons of suds for three locations, this brewpub’s selection spans golden ales to milky stouts. Flock to the Westside location for seasonally influenced grub—think beer-braised mussels and Gulf shrimp and cheddar grit cakes—best enjoyed on the second-floor patio. three locations; 5seasonsbrewing.com

Cypress Street Pint & Plate: Tucked amid midtown’s high-rises, Pint & Plate presents 14 ever- changing drafts and 40 bottles. Its inventive bar food includes the famous Sublime Doughnut burger (a half-pound patty served on two locally made, ring-shaped pastries). Stop by on Beer Geek Tuesdays for food-beer pairings and craft classes, or to share a pint with beer guru Rob Merrick. 817 West Peachtree St. N.W. E125, cypressbar.com

Monday Night Brewing: Befriend the earthiness of the Eye Patch Ale IPA or the more full-bodied Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale at this Bible study turned Westside brewery, opened in 2013. For $10 get a souvenir pint glass, four compliment-ary pours and a tour of beer-making operations. Add your old necktie to the neon-lit Wall of Ties and get $1 off admission. 670 Trabert Ave. N.W., mondaynightbrewing.com

Wrecking Bar Brewpub: Tucked in the basement of a historic Little Five Points home, Wrecking Bar teams flavorful food with suds brewed onsite. Twelve taps and four casks pour light and dark styles; don’t miss the roasty Jemmy Stout. Feast on the signature burger and stick around on Saturdays for tours to learn more about the seven-barrel brewing system. 292 Moreland Ave. N.E., wreckingbarbrewpub.com

The Porter Beer Bar: Tuck into a handcrafted wooden booth, and snack on salt and vinegar popcorn while reviewing the list of 44 beers on draft and mind-boggling collection of 700 bottles. The microbrew and small import menu highlights rare names and keeps beer junkies coming back again and again to this world-class Little Five Points gem, as does the classy pub fare. 1156 Euclid Ave., theporterbeerbar.com

Hop City Beer & Wine: “Chief Hop Head” Kraig Torres can help you select the perfect beer pairing from his shop’s substantial collection of nearly 1,900 different brews. Bottles are organized by style and kept at 70 degrees for optimum storage conditions. You can also fill up a 64- or 32-ounce growler at the massive tap wall (highlighting several hometown brands) or stock up on a full range of homebrew equipment and ingredients, including 33 different specialty grains. Sit in on a Saturday homebrew class and start your journey to beer stardom. 1000 Marietta St. #302, hopcitybeer.com

 


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