The Absolute Best Breweries in Atlanta
Hit all of these ASAP.
In a city that boasts more local breweries than any of us truly deserve, any given moment throughout the year can turn into a trip to a tasting room. But no one can deny that the arrival of fall is what truly marks the start of beer-drinking season. Perhaps it's due to the centuries-old beer festival in Munich, Germany known around the world as Oktoberfest. Or perhaps it just feels better drinking local brews now that cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels have rolled into the city. Regardless, beer-drinking season is here, and whether you’re looking to find the place where you’ll be celebrating Oktoberfest this year or looking for your new go-to brewery, we’ve got you covered. Here are Atlanta’s best breweries—have fun and drink responsibly.
Hippin’ Hops Brewery
At the convergence of African-American culture and Beer is Hippin Hops Brewery, a Black-owned brewery that has set up shop in EAV. The newly opened brewery boasts plenty of uniquely named beers—such as The Cookout (Light Smoked Wheat), Skrawberri (Strawberry Hazy IPA), Hater-aid (Shandy), and Black Don't Crack (Stout)—as well as beermosas and an impressive assortment of seafood. Pull up for the beer and stay for the cajun shrimp deviled eggs, gator bites, and oysters.
Torched Hop Brewing Company
Across the street from Mary Mac’s Tea Room on Ponce De Leon Avenue is Torched Hop, a brewery founded by Atlanta natives Chris and Stephen Bivins that brings the heat with its local brews and eccentric bites. Torched Hop’s one-of-a-kind drink menu consists of staples like South’easter Cold IPA (6.7%), Tribunal-Double IPA (8.5%), The Scars Remain V.2-Barrel Aged Stout (12.2%), and Spoondrift Raspberry Gose (4.9%). Plus, where else can you enjoy some game-changing beer while chowing down on Smoked Tofu BLTs, twice-fried jumbo chicken wings (which are combined in a special six-piece wing, fries, and house draft package on Wednesdays for $13), and Tempura Avocado?
Best End Brewing Co.
As you’ll see as you continue through our guide, the westside of Atlanta is home to many of the most well-respected breweries, and among those is a brewery that doesn’t shy away from repping the Westside and more specifically, the West End—Best End Brewing Company. An all-in-one brewery, restaurant, and tiki bar, Best End somehow manages to deliver on all fronts, so prepare yourself for a stacked assortment of traditional and nitrogen beers, including the 7.1% Lack of Fokus Hazy Rye IPA, the 5.5% Holy Shenanigans Dry Irish Stout, the 4.0% Salsa Shark Gose, the 4.9% Anxiety Pils American Pilsner, and the 7.5% Troy and Abed in the Morning foreign extra stout.
Halfway Crooks Beer
With tallboy cans sporting labels printed to resemble old-school paper printouts, Halfway stands out spectacularly by not doing too much. Their Belgian-style lagers and ales are remarkably drinkable, and they’ve gained a devoted following that you don’t always see so quickly, especially for a brewery that opened only a summer ago. And sure, everybody’s been on a lager and seltzer kick for the past two years, but HC’s German pilsners, American ales, and Belgian-style witbier, and other specialty projects prove that you don’t always need a head-knocking high-ABV beer.
Second Self Beer Company
It may just be the simplicity of Game Night IPA that makes Second Self’s flavorful India Pale Ale so special. It could also be the Nintendo NES controller designed into the can art. But like its refreshing contemporary, the La Fria Caribbean Lager, it is an extremely versatile sipper, which sets you up to try some punchier, two-hopped hazy IPAs via the New Contender series, which is in its fourth round and is pitting a cashmere and lemon drop IPA, which was recently rolled out in honor of National IPA Day.
Bold Monk Brewing Co.
Does your other favorite new brewery also have its own library? If not, you can still support them but you’ll have the best chance to put those brain cells back in place at Bold Monk. Best explained as “a place to simply be,” Bold Monk comes through with a great ambiance and great beer. The 7.3% ABV Discipline Dubbel is also a strong pull for fall season, as the classic Dubbel comes with notes of toasted bread, brandied cherry, and caramel. Or keep going up with the Belgian-style 8.8% The Way Tripel. The Shared Spirit IPA won’t steer you wrong either, but why not stay warm this autumn with some high ABV brews?
Steady Hand Beer Co.
Steady Hand is moving slowly but surely into the top tiers of being people’s champs of Atlanta beer. The Flower Business Double IPA is one of several always-on, always-available brews, and the brewery also just unveiled a new super limited beer—the 8% ABV “Floating on a Marshmallow Sea”—that’s a pastry stout with hints of coffee, marshmallow, vanilla, and coconut. That’s a decadent brew that has “fall” written all over it.
Fire Maker Brewing Company
In the year and some change since their opening right around the start of the pandemic, Fire Maker has become quite the westside star, which isn’t an easy feat considering its proximity to several impressive breweries on this list. Having taken over a huge warehouse building on Chattahoochee, Fire Maker continues to serve bold lactose-containing standouts like Dr. Mungo C.V.C, a very drinkable double imperial stout, and the double dry-hopped Chattahooch-Tea lactose IPA, which is sort of a beer inspired by an Arnold Palmer, without going too far on the Sprite-like Lemondrop and Motueka hops, or the two different teas used in brewing.
It’s not that Eventide didn’t make good beers since selling their first brews in 2014. The Kölsch has always been solid, whether consumed in its normal fruited version or the honeysuckle Arbor Ale rendition. But the Pair of Kings double IPA, at 8.3% ABV, is exactly what you deserve this fall. It’s a head-knocker for sure, but while there’s a slightly boozy heft to the hoppy citrus notes, there’s also a balance that keeps the higher alcohol-by-volume level tamed in terms of taste. It also comes in a sexy matte black and orange can.
Once crowned by the legendary Ale Sharpton as the most underrated brewery in Georgia, it’s safe to say that Arches Brewing has built an impressive reputation for itself over the last couple of years. There was a time when Arches Brewing only did beers that represented a hybrid of Old World Belgian and new-school American -- not that anything was wrong with that. But since head brewer Justin Ramirez joined the team, there’s been a noticeable upshift in adventurous deliciousness. The stellar Low Viz IPA and instant-classic Mexican Empire Vienna lager are still prime picks, but you also can’t go wrong with its Southside-themed brews. As a way of showing its neighborhood pride, Arches is currently offering a week-long special in which visitors get 10% OFF any draft beer if you support a local business in Hapeville, East Point or College Park. Pull up with a receipt from a tri-cities business to redeem your “Southside” discount—most preferably on the Southside Lager or the Southside Grind Lager.
Monday Night Brewing
MNB’s West Midtown Hop Hut has established itself as a dependable place for really good, super-fresh IPAs that you won’t find outside the brewery. This is where to go if you want to try some of brewmaster Peter Kiley’s more experimental stuff, like three-times dry hopped IPAs and whatnot. But the Garage is where to find the funk, whether you’re interested in the 13% mocha latte-inspired Tiger That Killed My Father Maple Bourbon Barrel or the ten-year anniversary beer, the 13.6% ABV Tie X On, a barrel-aged strong ale that has been in the making for over four years.
Early October brings Imperial Trop Haze, which is the advanced, older, handsome DIPA grad school cousin of Creature’s famed IPA Tropicália. It clocks in with a higher ABV (8%), and takes the tropical citrus vibe up a notch in terms of body and hop. If you’re looking for something on the thicker and sweeter side, grab a four-pack of Awaken, My Love—the all-Gambino, never-Childish, 13.7%, imperial stout made with cinnamon and Colombian Los Ortega coffee from Athens-based 1000 Faces Coffee. Sure, the newly B-Corp-certified brewery may be opening a new location in LA, but the brilliant brewery hasn’t gone Hollywood.
It feels almost unfair that Roswell has a brewery as good as Variant, until you learn that a Roswell native founded it, and you forgive him for being selfish on behalf of an ATL suburb that, well, certainly can afford to be. East Cobb jokes aside, it’s worth going online and ordering a curbside crowler (orders must be placed in advance), because when you get home and pour sips of that low-gravity Dark Alchemy oatmeal stout, or fun creations like Lingering Thoughts, a 11% rye whiskey barrel-aged stout with the decadence of a candy bar, you might find yourself looking at a second apartment near Canton Road. Definitely don’t leave without its Valewalker New England IPA, a citrusy hop ride with stone fruit flavors and hints of peach gummy rings.
Three Taverns Craft Brewery
It’s been quite a stellar streak for Three Taverns, the Decatur-originating brewery that made its bones with the A Night on Ponce IPA with a brick and wood interior. You’ll remember the year-round Raputurous (raspberry) and seasonal offerings like Lord Grey (earl grey tea), the Thanksgiving-approved Enchantress cranberry sauce sour, and Saporous (a passionfruit and guava lactose sour). They also have a pretty crushable Japanese rice lager called Ukiyo that you thought would be weird but it’s just good.
Wild Heaven Beer
Now that Emergency Drinking Beer has peach, watermelon and other renditions, you might as well move into other new territory being charted from the taproom at Wild Heavens’ two locations also. Longtime supporters of Wild Heaven can celebrate the local brewery’s delayed 10-year anniversary on its 11th anniversary—thank the pandemic for that mind-boggling concept—by grabbing a bottle of its special, one-time-only Eleventh Anniversary Barrel Aged Blend. With Oktoberfest right around the corner as well, this fall will certainly be an exciting season for the Wild Heaven team.
SweetWater Brewing Company
There’s always something good at SweetWater, including good-ol’ 420. But these days you should really try something new, because they’re pumping out plenty of it from those tall barrels peaking over at traffic on 85N. And these new beers are damn good, between the funked-up sours coming out of their barrel-aging Woodlands facility down the street from the brewery (the golden sour Cambium American wild ale with stone fruit tartness is a great one), and the continuing weedy genius they’re putting into the 420 Strain series of hemped-up brews. Plus you can always depend on SweetWater for a surprisingly impressive wild card, such as this fall’s Almond Milk Stout, a 5.4% dairy-free stout packed with flavors of roasted coffee, milk and dark chocolates.