Where the Wild Things Grow
Having started from the bottom (of the perimeter), Arches is a Hapeville-based operation whose brewmaster came up with the original recipes from his East Point Colonial home. He then spent 10 years afterward using playful chemistry to mix Old World Belgian and new-school American styles of beer to come up with 30+ recipes with four partners. Inside the brewery’s tasting room (open Thursday and Saturday afternoons), and built by the owners inside a renovated NAPA Auto Parts shop, Arches have got several year-rounds -- try the Southern Bel' blonde ale, which has “biscuit notes” -- as well as seasonals and limited releases like the twice-per year Rough & Ready double IPA, and a winter-only aged Russian imperial stout.
Already vying for the fictitious award of “most bravely named brewing company considering Georgia Blue Laws,” this science-heavy beer-making company started with two guys. One guy who walked away from his corporate job dealing with debt-straddled businesses, and a friend in pharmaceutical development who decided to study beer and went on to brew for big names like Russian River in CA. Their niche is the cultivation of local yeast strains to make an imperial American wheat called Sneaky, a West Coast IPA called Westside, the Slim pale ale and their go-to Basement IPA, with Citra hops that give it an earthy tone with lemongrass hints.
Unwilling to be left outside the newly booming westside boozing scene, Urban Tree bills itself as Atlanta’s first craft cider brand (Treehorn is made in Marietta, after all), creating its product from hand-pressed apples sourced from a family orchard in Mountain City, GA. Open four days a week (Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday), UTC allows you to sample all the locally brewed ciders inside the tasting room, or out on the dog-friendly patio where they let guests BYO-food and occasionally host events like cornhole tourneys with food trucks. The original, barrel-aged, and classic ciders range from dry and crisp to sweet and woody vanilla oak-flavored. And if you’re unable to visit the facility, order online -- they ship it in boxes of three, six, or 12, anywhere in Georgia.
This beautifully designed brick brewpub does hand-crafted beer as well as savory food. On tap you’ll find a solid selection of beers not many newcomers offer in the beginning, including a 6% ABV strawberry shortcake-esque fruit beer called Miss Scarlett’s Guilty Pleasure (rested on 200lbs of strawberries and 100 Madagascar vanilla beans), an American black ale called Nightmare on Penn St., and Super Cereal pale ale, made with flaky oats for a creamy mouthfeel -- and suggested to pair with a vinaigrette salad. Speaking of food, they offer that salad (raw kale w/ beets w/ goat cheese) and other bites from peach chili garlic wings to chorizo pizzas and fried pork chop sandwiches.
Open Thursday-Saturday on Delk Rd, this alcoholic soda factory is turning your inner child terrible one candy-flavored ABV percentage point at a time. It’s the brainchild of a homebrewer who opened Blind Murphy’s craft beer/growler shop, which had to close in order for the brewery to be legally clear (sacrifices!). There are 20 taps at the brewery, in flavors like Jamaican Ginger, lemon-sweet Sun Tea, spiced Cinnamon Shine winter brew, and Toasted Marshmallow, which tastes like graham cracker and chocolate. It's also brewing a brand of craft beer called Ironmonger, and have steely named styles like Blood on the Cobblestones double IPA, Forged porter, and Cutlass stout, and a brand-new India brown ale released just in time for Halloween.
Dedicated to gastronomical Belgian beers -- and apparently the godly nature of the humble goat -- AOTHG is a small-scale craft brewery that wants to make sure you pair the beers with food (although it's BYO-food for now). The beer's not only special because it’s meant to be paired with great food, or because the space looks much like a monastery inside, but it’s founded by an awesome female brewer named Kathy Davis, who says she spent seven years developing the brews and watching tons of goat videos on her way to winning several local brewing competitions and taking the leap. Bring your own food to the tasting hall and try her elderflower Goats in the Garden saison (7.2% ABV) with pork or pasta dishes, The Goat’s Obsession dark double IPA with crème brûlée, funky cheeses, or spicy grilled meats, or just drink and drink the malty Goats of the First Order session beer.
Started by a UGA grad and his buddy from Georgia Southern, with a Kennesaw State alumni serving as brewmaster (but likely just drinking a lot of beer for inspiration like most KSU students), Dry County has moistened the ground of the city where you legally must have a gun in your house (no, really), and has a 6.4% ABV IPA, a blackberry Berliner Weisse, an under-6% oatmeal stout, a 4.9% blonde session ale, and more. All of which you can try at their family-/pet-friendly brewery Thursday-Saturday and then take up to 64oz of brew home with you. In addition to $12 tours, you can hang around picnic tables or bring blankets and camping chairs and play giant Jenga! or cornhole.
Probably the most scrappy and promising of the new crews in terms of breadth of selection and availability is Southern Sky. It has a tasting bar inside its 7,000sqft, seven-barrel brewery and is run by a super-small crew -- brewmaster Jon Near (a GA Tech grad), a head brewer, and a marketing/communications person. Somehow Southern Sky is all over the north-to-northwest area of town, from shops like Ale Yeah! and Total Wine, to restaurants like Atkins Park and Mellow Mushroom, putting out 21 barrels per week. It's got mainstay beers like 1UP New England IPA, a variety of Berliner Weisse sours in the Son of Icarus series (tart cherry, blood orange, peach, etc.), specialty seasonals like the 11.5% ABV Belgian dark special Alepocalypse, and other drafts that include Mountainman Jesus English barleywine and Mustachio Pistachio cream ale. Also, the names are good and weird, so give them points for creativity and drink enough to let them know you’re impaired from being honest!
1. Arches Brewing3361 Dogwood Dr, Hapeville
2. Scofflaw Brewing Co.1738 MacArthur Blvd NW, Atlanta
3. Urban Tree Cidery1465 Howell Mill Rd NW, Atlanta
4. Torched Hop Brewing Company249 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Atlanta
5. Naughty Soda / Ironmonger Brewing2129 Northwest Pkwy SE Ste 105, Marietta
6. Abbey of the Holy Goats4000 Northfield Way, Roswell
7. Dry County Brewing Company, Kennesaw
8. Southern Sky Brewing Company1590 N Roberts Rd NW, Kennesaw
Exposed beams and brick walls set the tone at this friendly, industrial-inspired tap room where patrons can find three excellent year round brews and other seasonal and/or limited release beers. Brewmaster and co-founder, for which one of the 5 pillars in the logo symbolize, happens to also be a biochemist and makes scientifically delicious hybrids between American craft styles and European traditions, namely Belgian. He knows that it’s not just the right hops, malt, and yeast that make a good beer, but also the water (enter science). After your tour, sip on the Unseasonal Lager (dry-hopped and spicy, but still refreshing) and play corn hole or take the party outside and enjoy nice weather in their expansive beer garden.
With a name like Scofflaw, it’s no surprise that their brewery breaks the mold with their no bull shit set up. Don’t show up expecting some over-designed tap room … Scofflaw serves their IPA-centric brews from one tap station in a seating area that is actual inside their brewery operation. Even though there are chain-link fences enclosing the drinking area, you get to enjoy their beers while looking at the machinery that made them. We think that’s pretty dang cool. Try the Sneaky Wheat for a drinkable imperial American wheat with hints of citrus and a high ABV, or the Interrogations coffee milk stout that tastes remarkably like a dark roast coffee.
Setting the tone in Atlanta as the first craft cidery within the city limits, family owned and operated Urban Tree is sweetening the West Midtown booze scene at their “farm-house industrial” tap room. Urban Tree churns out a variety of ciders that rang from dry and hoppy to fruity and sweet so there is a cider for even the most resistant beer snob. Urban Tree uses farm grown apples, courtesy of the Cathey Family Orchard, to make their traditional ciders on location where they also have a full bar for cider cocktails, rotating food trucks, and regular corn hole tournaments. Try the European-style Original Cider for a drier finish or the Barrel-Aged Cider for more warm flavors like oak and vanilla.
The folks at Torched Hop know that sipping good beer is a magical experience and magic is what they hope to bring to Midtown: a fun-loving, vibrant community of beer lovers. The tap room is spacious and filled with bright colors, the staff is friendly and just as down to earth as their beers are creative. Try the Might Moe Double IPA for notes of passion fruit and citrus and a mighty high ABV, or take a turn down a darker ally and give the Nightmare on Penn St. (American Black Ale) a try for a robust, malty taste. Order some comfort food from their American kitchen like sweet potato fries, a blackened shrimp po boy, or Mac-n-Cheeza pizza.
If you’re familiar with the alcoholic soda company, Naughty Soda, you should know about Ironmonger Brewing, the craft brewery opened under the same roof by the same people selling a different kind of carbonated alcoholic beverage. Owner and brewer Dave Sheets developed his original Pumpkin Spice soda when he was sick of everyone brewing pumpkin beers while at the helm of Blind Murphy’s (his first professional craft brewery). Now back in the beer game he’s putting his creativity to good use with beers like Torch the Village IPA and Swordsman’s Stout. Take a self guided tour before heading to the industrially-designed taproom with clear views of the brewery and exposed wood and iron piping.
Roswell’s Abbey of the Holy Goats maintains a tasting room with the air of a gothic church dining hall: wrought iron chandeliers, hanging tapestries, a standing piano, a huge benched banquet table fit for a Middle Ages feast. The small-scale craft brewery has a penchant for Belgian-style beers, but thanks to Georgia law, it can’t sell them onsite, so your tour will include a souvenir pint glass and tastings on the production tour. The beers are, naturally, named after goats, from the Goats in the Garden (an elderflower Saison) to The Goat’s Obsession (a dark, double IPA with a sticky malt body). No goats (or dogs or kids) allowed.
Kennesaw is not dry country thanks in no small part to Dry County Brewing Company, with a tasting room for touring drinkers open Thurs-Sat. The small, locally distributed producer narrows its focus to an IPA and session ale, which can be sampled onsite after you preview the fermenting process.
A small, family-operated brewery with seven fermenting barrels covers its bases with an American IPA, a Berliner Weisse, an English Porter and a pink ale poured year-round, with five additional rotating specials. The addition of a taproom gives touring groups a corner to soak it all up, with a side of beer philosophy from the small staff.