What are the three rules of going to a brewery?
Rule one: figure out transportation. Lyft/Uber work, or have a friend join who isn’t a beer aficionado and won’t be bored stiff while you are there.
Rule two: food. Either eat before, after, both, but make sure the belly is not empty when imbibing.
Rule three: enjoy
I haven’t posted a brewery/beer adventure for a while and I kind of miss it. I’ve been mostly going to beer stores in the area and enjoying at home. There’s something to be said for the brewery experience.
When I was in Nashville, I met a friend at a place called the Broadway Brewhouse, a very generic name for a joint that had generic sports bar type food and an extensive beer list. The best one I tried was the Black Belle bourbon-barrel aged stout from Blackstone. I had tried this beer before from the brewery in previous years but hadn’t discovered this year’s version. The two amazing parts to it was they now make it in 12 ounce bottles (bombers were the vessel before) and all beers were half-price on Sunday that day.
Sadly I wasn’t able to get to that brewery or a local shop to find more of that beer so I reached out to a Facebook group I joined (Nashville Beer Geeks) and found a new best friend willing to trade me some the next time I come up. Of course that meant I would have to find some quality Atlanta brew to bring up. A local brewery was about to release a special can (I know, this only happens like every day now) and I was going to pick some up. I got sidetracked.
When it comes to beer, you’re either loyal to a specific beer or a brewery. If you’re adventurous and have a wider palate than I do, you enjoy everything on the menu. I’m not necessarily like that but I have preferred styles so if you do those stouts and sours well, you have my business.
Cherry Street Brewery’s legendary status started when it was named Grand National Champion by winning three gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals in 2017 U.S. Open Beer Championship.
Locals already knew about the brewery. I think the legendary part was that the beers were considered amazing yet had very narrow if any distribution, which meant you couldn’t get them at the stores or they were gone quickly when they did appear. What a wild time it used to be at beer stores. You’d hope for one bottle of KBS from Founders and now there are cases sitting at the local Kroger.
The first beer I had from Cherry Street was the Coconut Porter. It used to come in a bomber, I forget if it was 500 ml or 750 ml but it was tasty, relatively cheap and low ABV. It’s a malty, coconutty bomb of goodness.
My beer buddy Steve recommended Cherry Street and all thoughts of that other brewery left my head immediately. Again the issue is that Cherry Street is in the actually real town called Cumming, a solid 30-minute drive north and that’s weekend traffic. So it’s tough to get to plus one needs a ride. Well Steve’s partner isn’t a beer drinker and doesn’t mind (for a while at least) hanging out with us as we get that solid buzz on.
Cherry Street is a little tricky. There’s the restaurant Tanner’s that serves some of Cherry Street’s offerings but not all. We got there and ordered a flight but I didn’t see any of my barrel-aged offerings and found out that the brewery next door has them. In theory you can get beer from the brewery and bring it over but we just went with the regular offerings. The food is pub fare, pretty solid although the main goal is to get that stomach base.
Next door is the brewery. Most patrons were outside due to it being an amazing warm spring day in Atlanta, along with the ubiquitous pollen fog. Yes, the pollen is so thick that it will make things a bit hazy, kind of like those New England style IPAs.
I’m trying to get cool kid NEIPA cred but I don’t enjoy the style at all. The good news is that Steve does so I’d say between the two of us we tried nearly every beer on the menu.
Here’s my ranking of the beers I had from least enjoyable to most enjoyable. I would say the “worst” beer on this list still would earn a solid three out of five “how many fingers am I holding up cause you drunk” rating system.
Dylan’s Dubbel: I did get a bomber of Corsendonk Pater or Dubbel in Tennessee because for some reason, that legendary Belgian beer no longer distros to Georgia. Beer with a cork gives it extra coolness points and I liked the malty/yeasty style. I don’t like the style as much anymore. When you go to a brewery for specific styles, anything outside those styles gets short shrift no matter how good it may be for that style. Sorry, Dylan.
OASIS: Now this is the best-named beer of the day, Old As Shit Imperial Stout. There are two potential issues with an imperial stout. You might get a licorice aftertaste, and I didn’t in this case or you get a bucketful of bitterness in the back end. When you have a beer and immediately think “my friend so and so would really like this”, yeah, move on.
Fat Kids Birthday Party Peanut Butter and Chocolate Stout: Again with the names. You smell the peanut butter powder which I like. There was a major bitterness at the end, which is no bueno. Plus it didn’t go well with lunch. It certainly is a dessert beer if you’re on the more bitter side of beer.
Alan’s Better Half Brown Ale: I tend to enjoy more roastly/malty brown ales and this one’s pretty solid. I’m interested to see how the barrel-aged version turns out.
Cream Stout Rye Bourbon Barrel Aged: Beers that need a full paragraph to describe can be a bit busy. So we have a cream stout, kind of like nitro but much better in rye barrels and rye’s a little earthy, or a lot earthy. It reminds me of Cherry Street’s fifth anniversary beer which was five barrel-aged beers combined and it was a bit insane. I didn’t consider a cream stout and rye a good balance.
Blistering OASIS Russian Stout: Take Canadian Breakfast Stout, another beer that in one year went from a required part of each beer snob’s cellar to gathering dust on shelves, add hot pepper sauce and boom. You know how you get the taste of the booze you had if you consume too much? I was tasting hot sauce all evening. There are beers you try, dislike and immediately forget. There are beers you try and time-stamp the moment of gloriousness. There are beers that are unique flavor journeys but it might not be a journey you want to repeat. This is the case.
Coconut Porter: This can be a style that I enjoy every other time, as it might be too bitter one try and then perfection the next. I’ve had this beer more than any other on this list so it drops down a bit. I really should have purchased a four-pack but I have Death By Coconut and that’s a similar experience.
Blood Orange, Sweat and Tears Sour Blonde: Cherry Street isn’t known for their sours or at least they are not famous for sours. It’s IPAs and barrel-aged stout monsters. There was a cherry limeade berliner weisse that came out a couple of years ago, people told me was amazing, and didn’t do much for me. I used to get the Blood Orange Gose from Anderson Valley and this is a better version of it. Sweet and sour, who’s against this? Also this beer earns extra points for being really different from anything I had all day.
Bourbon Barrel Coconut Porter: Last year a local beer store (chain) Green’s partnered up with Cherry Street to do a Bourbon Barrel Coconut Porter that was only sold in their stores and I swear I tried to corner the market. It’s the coconut porter, just taken to the next level with smooth bourbon.
Westside Beverage Double Chocolate Russian Imperial Stout: Even the name is a paragraph. Again, if you’re a brewery and want to foster relationships with bottle shops, do a collaboration brew with them. The description is all you need: “Russian Imperial Stout brewed with milk chocolate, cocoa nibs, and lactose (milk sugar) and then aged for 14 months in a 1792 barrel from our friends at Westside Beverage. When I first sipped this beer, I knew this is why I showed up. It was silky smooth, none of that bitterness nonsense, the lactose helped with that, and the chocolate was so good. Upon multiple sips you notice the high booze content. I’m not sure if there are bottles of this around, but if so, corner the market.
It’s hard to show restraint when you go to a brewery that sells to-go offerings. You can get growler fills, crowlers (32 ounce cans that are one-time-use containers), or bottles. They had a bottle of a different double chocolate Russian Imperial Stout, basically the exact same beer I had except a different bourbon, in this case Angel’s Envy. I don’t drink bourbon so I doubt I could tell the difference. I also picked up one of the Bourbon Barrel Coconut Porters. These are for special occasions, like tomorrow.