I woke up on Saturday with a renewed vigor toward life. My plans of drinking myself stupid were coming to fruition, and as my considerate and not a beer fan wife dropped me off, she listened with eyes a rolling when I expressed concern that there wouldn’t be enough beer.
Atlanta has become a beer destination. Because there are three breweries within walking distance, a friend suggested that we try all three on the same day. The well-named Atlanta Beer Tours had a special tour of all three on February 20, so we all signed up. The itinerary was for us to start at Wild Heaven, walk to Three Taverns then hit Blue Tarp Brewery for the finale. This is in a four-hour period.
I had been to two of the breweries, and the usual experience is such: you get tokens or tickets for “tastes” of beer, and in some instances you get a glass to go. Georgia rules stipulate that you can’t buy beer at a brewery (only Mississippi as a similar law), so pay for a “tour”. The tour is optional and most people just hang out and drink until the tickets/tokens are gone. It’s recommended to do the tour because listening about the history of the brewery is interesting and you can bring your beer. In terms of the process of making beer, I’m still in the “magic gnomes do it” camp, not ready to jump into home brew as a hobby.
Wild Heaven was the home of my post birthday party gathering, and I got to drink beer with three friends who I have known since the 90s. That was cool. I was a bit worried that since I had been there recently that I wouldn’t have any beer variety. I got lucky.
The ABT host did the tour, giving a brief history of Wild Heaven, the typical friends who home brewed decided to take things to the next level tale. One minor detail is that this brewery uses no refined sugar, which supposedly limits the hangovers. I can’t say I’ve tested this theory out.
When you’re at a brewery, the “wily veterans” are the ones looking for a test batch of a new brew or one of their more limited releases. We got in before the technical opening time so we had access to two of their speciality beers, Dionysus Cuvee, and Height of Civilization. The Dionysus is their Eschaton, a quad (think really boozy and really dark) that is barrel-aged and blended with five wild ales. In short, it combines two styles I love, the quad and a sour/wild ale. Of the four “pours” I had at Wild Heaven, I had this for three. The Height of Civilization is their barlywine aged on tequila barrels and that was too much the one time I tried it. My tequila-loving friend said he’d prefer to just have tequila.
The second location was the full of people younger than me Three Taverns. We arrived at the first brewery 30 minutes before the official opening so we had the space to ourselves. We had to squeeze in at this joint, as a couple hundred people squeezed in. The brewmaster at Three Taverns from Belgium so they have the bona fides. The upside with Three Taverns was quality beer. The downside was some of their heavier beers and the ones that I wanted to try the most cost two of the four tokens we each received. Because of that, I tried a little trick. I had three of the single beers, two helpings of Raspberry Sour Asylum, a raspberry sour that I’m sad is not in stores yet and a Sour Asylum #4, a golden sour that was less successful for my palate. Then I went for Theophan The Recluse, their Russian stout, had the one token and the savvy bartender gave me a “half pour” that was about 75% of such. It was a good, slightly bitter stout.
We were losing oxygen so we went outside where the cornhole games were going. If you have a brewery it’s a federal offense if you do not also have cornhole. You get better the more you drink, I swear. In any case, we found some extra tokens and I was able to try their bourbon barrel aged quad called Heavy Bell. It was really good and usually the hard liquor addition to beer makes it a no-go for me. We were on our way to the next stop so I only had a few sips (can’t chug a beer that’s more than 10% booze).
Blue Tarp felt like more of a low-budget affair, without the “authentic Belgian tasting room” wood interior of Three Taverns. It was like someone failed at a take-out joint and they took the space. I’ll admit that this place was at a disadvantage as we had tried almost ten different “tastes”. I wonder how the drinking would have gone had this been our first offering. My friends have the last name of Funk so they loved the Funk Weisse, a light lemony beer. I tried some of the lighter beers but my favorite was the Last Place Stout. It’s dark and sweet, my beerhouse as it were.
There was a nice outdoor area with the requisite cornhole games and a fire pit, so atmosphere was on point.
We planned on dinner after the tour and the funny thing is since we got six tickets and each pour was half a beer if not more, we ended up giving tickets to other people. We did get glasses and my beer glass collection is a bit like my actual beer collection, a bit much so I gave away the souvenir pint glass.
Most likely in the future I’ll hit my breweries one at a time. It’s usually $12 for a tour and the Atlanta Beer Tour price was $60, so I’m not sure if the extra money was worth it. If you’re new to the beer scene and want a challenge, I think the tour is the way to go. Aaron, the host, was fine, hosted the tour at Wild Heaven, got our tokens at the busy Three Taverns and talked beer with me as we hung out waiting for a bathroom to open up at Blue Tarp. I bet we could do it a la carte next time and have just as much fun. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to track down a Dionysus.