FYI: This is week two of my “series” of going to Atlanta-area breweries. I do not attend an Atlanta brewery this week nor do I sample an Atlanta beer. Other than that, the theme is dead on.
Beer Lesson of the Week: It’s not like improv
Last Thursday the Atlanta United Football Club joined the ranks of Atlanta professional sports team by making sure a lot of their fan base would need therapy after a heartwrenching penalty kicks loss in the playoffs. Let’s say this: the 2017 inaugural season is a success almost beyond imagining. Atlanta gets a Major League Soccer team that has to play in a college football stadium (Georgia Tech’s Boddy Dodd Stadium), sells it out at a clip that hasn’t been seen by the college team in a long time, then moves into the monstrosity called Mercedes-Benz Stadium and proceeds to set records by selling that out, plus leads the league in goals, which is important because you need those to win. The team does well enough to make the playoffs, and a home playoff match to boot (hah), hosting a team that looked like old-school New York City cabs, the Columbus Crew.
As a bit of a uniform snob I appreciated that Atlanta wore their “five stripes” red, black, and gold jerseys, Arthur Blank trying for a little Pittsburgh vibe giving the soccer squad the Falcons’ semi-ass kissing mainly Georgia with a touch of Georgia Tech color scheme. Columbus wore all yellow with what looked like a racing stripe down the side.
Naturally, the game featuring the top-scoring team in the league went nil nil, plus 30 minutes of extra time which is always ragged since both teams get three subs out of 11 starters and the clock never stops. Atlanta hit the cross bar four times and Columbus did it twice. It ended in penalties.
The seat I had was three rows from the bottom of the stadium. I could have been called in as a sub. We were probably ten feet down and ten feet across from the pitch, or field, or whatever high-tech turf they use in place of grass.
We watched the penalty kicks. Penalty kicks are taken from 11 meters out. It’s so close that the goalie has to all but guess which way the kick is going. The Columbus guy guessed right. Of four kicks, Atlanta made one. That’s bad. The season ended and the crowd, standing and singing cute little ditties like “vamos vamos vamos vamos ATL” was stunned.
I heard much of Mercedes Benz stadium having an amazing craft beer selection, and not shockingly the Atlanta United fan base was more in favor of that than the Atlanta Falcons fans. I heard they had 60 different beers on tap, or in bottle, or can, or plastic cup.
I’m here to report that they might (only made it through half the concourse), but it’s officially 50 IPAs and 10 versions of Bud Light.
I got the invitation and after wrestling with Ticketmaster for an hour, I was set. I took the local MARTA station (note to self: if you want latent self-hatred to manifest, take MARTA to a major sporting event on a week night).
The first game I went to involved a three-hour tailgate. For this one I arrived with less than thirty minutes to kickoff. I stood in a long beer line that showed a bunch of bottles and cans. About halfway through the line it didn’t look like any of the beers are worth a flip so I decided to just get Fox Brothers (Fox Brothers in a stadium? Please talk to the yahoos who organized the substandard food at Nissan Stadium in Nashville).
There were four beer choices: local IPA, Modelo, Lite, and Terrapin Hopsecutioner. Hopsecutioner is the Atlanta (Athens brewery bought out by the big boys) version of Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo, which is just an attack of hops. I thought it made more sense to get the super hoppy beer that I could taste than the beer-like flavor of a Lite or a Modelo. I was wrong. When you don’t see a beer that you’ll at least tolerate, it’s ok to pass.
BEER OF THE WEEK
I love alternate history books. These books usually involved one thing happening in the past that was different in order to change history entirely. I used to read a lot of Harry Turtledove stuff. I think he’s a brand more than an author. The arcs of his story were always more interesting than the somewhat cardboard characters. In the book How Few Remain, the South won the Civil War and the North takes it on again in the same time frame as World War One. George Custer is a general on the North’s side (once the South wins, many things change) and each side has a long line of what they call barrels (tanks, because one thing authors like to do in alt history books is rename things). He decides to cluster his tanks, attack the South and that leads to a decisive victory. The North doesn’t absorb the South this time and a Hitler-esque leader takes over the South for what will be a very different World War III aka Civil War III, not quite as good as Rocky III.
This is a long way to say that when you have a beer budget, you don’t spend it in a linear fashion. I had gotten into a nice beer-buying rhythm, picking up four-packs of Three Philosophers, Dragon’s Milk and Boulevard’s Bourbon barrel aged quad at the top of the month and allowing myself one of each beer per week. Yes, there were other beers. I have my stash of bombers and various other singles but these were my reward beers.
Founders is a brewery in Grand Rapids, Michigan and they have to be considered one of the better breweries in the country. Their beers are available nationwide as far as I know. The flagship beer they make is Kentucky Breakfast Stout. This is their Breakfast Stout, a double chocolate coffee oatmeal stout and yes I like a beer with coffee in it, aged in Kentucky Bourbon barrels in a cave. The cave part is the coolest.
Well, Founders decided that while it’s fun to have that mad dash to KBS in April, they should have other barrel-aged beers. They started with Frootwood, a cherry ale aged in bourbon barrels that then held maple syrup. Yeah, kind of sweet. There was Doom, which ruined perfectly good bourbon barrels on an IPA. There was DKML, a malt liquor aged in bourbon barrels. I had to go to Tennessee to get one since the 14.2% booze profile is .2% too high for my state. That was a one-time try, not worthy of repeat visits. The latest was Backwoods Bastard, a beer that friends told me about but I was unable to find. Last week, I found it.
Backwoods Bastard is a Scottish Ale or Wee Heavy aged in oak bourbon barrels. The oak part shouldn’t be a wow factor since all barrels are made of some kind of wood. I had tried a local version of this beer from Monday Night, the Bourbon-Barrel Drafty Kilt and loved it despite a somewhat underwhelming carbonation. I picked up the four-pack at the Total Wine near work, tried one and was in love.
This is a limited beer. I knew that I would have to scour local stores to get some. Well, it turned out all I needed to do was scour two of my local Total Wines. The upside is both had the beer. The downside is that they only let me buy one four-pack per visit.
What is this beer-obsessed dude to do? Well, I bought one four-pack on Wednesday, then one on Thursday before the soccer match. I was going to get one after but MARTA. On Friday I drove to the two locations and picked up a four pack at each. On Saturday I got one at the Brookhaven location where I was getting car work done, drove to the Perimeter one, then back to Brookhaven to pick up my car. That’s seven so far. And I know the stock isn’t going that quickly so I’ll be back on Monday.
My justification is even though I am blowing up my beer budget, some times you have to put on a mass attack to win (the beer) and I have plenty of beer to survive the month once my funds are officially depleted.
One little final note: These barrel-aged beers come in bomber and four-pack form, but the pricing always throws me. At Total Wine, where the selection is good but the prices are often a bit elevated, the four-pack is $15 and the bomber is $14. Sure, the picture on the bomber is the boss but a bomber is only slightly larger than two twelve-ounce bottles. One of my local shops had a lot of the bombers and no four-packs and I barely stopped myself from selling them out because of the principle. Or that I realized Total Wine had a lot of it. Either way, bomber/four-pack pricing is something that I’ll watch.
We’ll conclude with everyone’s favorite, a cat in a bag.