A Tale of Two Cities

Because of the position/friendship/awesomeness I hold, I had the opportunity to travel down to Atlanta for the Men’s Final Four.  Although Atlanta is the home of Sweetwater Brewing, I’ve done my fair share of brewery tours so immediately started researching the area to find some good beer bars.  Although my schedule was pretty hectic with events and game, I managed to sneak away from the hotel for a few hours and see what a small portion of the Atlanta beer scene was all about.

pic1 The one place I was able to stop at was the Porter Beer Bar.  Porter is located in Little Five Points area of Atlanta.  If you’ve never been to Atlanta, it’s spread out all to hell.  I took the MARTA to the closest station and managed to snag a ride from a nice guy and his kid after their trip the to the Final Four festivities.   I don’t why I took the stranger up for his offered ride, but I did.  When he dropped me off, I felt like he had just let me off on Bardstown Road in the Highlands.  When I walked into the bar, this is what I saw.  Floored.

Porter contains an extensive list of drafts, regular bottles, and also a vintage bottle collection.  After spending a good ten minutes going over the list, I asked the bartender what his favorite local beer was on tap.  He gave me some options and I started my day slowly sipping a local quad (I didn’t write down the name because I told myself I would remember it…idiot).  The ambiance of the place was awesome and the bar was slowly getting crowded with a Sunday brunch crowd.  Porter’s bourbon selection could rank up there with most of Louisville’s best.  I even saw a rare Elijah Craig 18 year sitting on the shelf and my mouth started to salivate, but 11:30 am was too early for bourbon.  While perusing the vintage bottle selection, I decided to order one of my favorite meals of all time, bacon hushpuppies, and a Lagunitas Undercover Shutdown Investigation.  I mean why pic2not follow a quad with an American Strong Ale?

pic3I’ll admit, I had a late night celebrating the Cards beating Wichita State, but the two strong beers quickly made it feel like I was back at it again.  I sat at the bar alone and I wouldn’t have asked for it to be any different.  I watched the bartenders suggest beers for individuals and decided to do something I did with my buddy at Toronado in San Francisco.  I ordered a vintage Bells Batch 10,000 poured half in a glass and then gave the rest to the bartenders to drink.  They both were kind of surprised at first, but thanked me my kindness.   I finished my drink, asked for a check and noticed they had given me a *great customer* discount.  After leaving a nice tip and a handshake, I promised I’d be back next time I was in town.

Although I consider it the best beer bar with some of the best staff in town, the Holy Grale really outdid themselves the other night.  Recently the Grale has started to utilize beermenus.com to give patrons an updated list of their beers, but this time they used Facebook to quickly announce a Founders tap takeover the day before the event.  Usually my protocol for these events are to go the next day when it isn’t as crowded and I can get the same beer, but the lineup for this day found me flying out of work recklessly driving towards Bardstown Road.

pic4KBS 2010
• KBS 2011
• KBS 2012
• KBS 2013
• Backwoods Bastard 2009
• Backwoods Bastard 2010
• Backwoods Bastard 2012
• Old Curmudgeon 2009
• Old Curmudgeon 2010
• Old Curmudgeon 2012
• Old Curmudgeon 2013
• Imperial Stout 2011
• Imperial Stout 2012
• Nemesis 2010
• CBS 2011
• Blushing Monk
• Devil Dancer

The lineup was ridiculous.  As soon as I walked in, said hello to a few fellow beer geeks, I went straight to the bar to order a Canadian Breakfast Stout (like the majority of patrons).  If you peruse Beer Advocate at all, CBS is considered the liquid gold of beer currency.  The bar was pretty busy, but not near packed as I thought it would be.  Barstools were still available and drinks were easy to come by with many staff working the taps.  For me, the Grale had done it right, quietly letting people know without people freaking out about the event.

pic5My next beer of choice was a Backwoods Bastard flight of 2009-2012.  The night before, I needed to get out of the house with all the news in regards to the Boston Marathon (Ashley and about 70+ friends were there for the race) so I headed up to the Grale to get an early sample of 2009 Backwoods.  Simply phenomenal.  As the flight would later show me, the older the Backwoods, the better.  With hunger ensuing, I ordered a burger and a Blushing Monk.  The Blushing Monk reminded me of a more boozy New Glarus Raspberry Tart and hit the spot on the muggy Tuesday night.  After downing what I consider to be one of the best burgers in town (second only to Harvest), I went for my last beer, a 2010 Nemesis.  A dark, toffee filled barleywine that held up quiet nicely in the three years.

Huge thanks to Lori, Tyler, and the rest of the staff at the Holy Grale for hosting an amazing beer event!



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