Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Local 7 - Tucker Georgia

You can find the Local 7 at 2316 Main Street, Suite A, Tucker, GA 30084 right next to the railroad tracks that splits downtown tucker and directly across from local food landmark, Matthew's Cafeteria. Parking is along the street or in the lot next to Matthew's.

I've eaten at Local 7 a number of times and in general the experiences have been good - this is a local pub favored by those in the area and it can get quite busy, especially on the weekends. I think it would be even busier except that local foot-traffic is limited. I'm a big fan of Tucker's recent renovation of their historic downtown, however most of local city residents live a bit too far away to walk there and the streets for the most part aren't very pedestrian friendly. The city doesn't really have the population density near downtown to make it very vibrant, though it is trying.

The restaurant itself is a glass-fronted shop-front in classic red-brick. The interior is very eclectic with a long bar along one side, tables and booths and a nice outside patio along the railroad tracks. Walls are festooned with adverts for local breweries and there are bicycles hanging from the ceiling, courtesy of Fat Tire (and New Belgium Brewing). I like the atmosphere quite a bit. 

The food is your typical pub food with wings, burgers, sandwiches and the like - they do serve tater-tots if that's your starch of choice and I thought the onion rings quite good. I've had the Reuben Sandwich which I thought good if not great. Don't bother with the fish and chips - it's cod but the tail cut which really should never be used (tough and curled). We sent this back twice. I think Local 7 is really more about the atmosphere and the craft beer selection. I've enjoyed a really nice Boulevard Coffee Stout. The specials on tap seems to change fairly frequently with a bunch of fixed brands. The bottle list is above average for a place this size with lots of variety and some fine craft beer represented.


I've also managed to try a dessert here, a German chocolate cake which was good but not great (a bit dry and frozen). Stick with the beer and the basics and I think you'll be happy. 

The service I've experienced has been quite good. The other patrons for the most part seem to ignore you if you don't know them but there's at least a bit of diversity as you scan around so, while you may not be part of the recognized local crowd, you don't get the attitude you might while visiting a downtown Atlanta pub. One thing that's a little weird is that the bathrooms are shared with the building so you exist the back (there's a common hallway) to use the facilities - efficient but a bit odd. I like this pub a lot and plan to visit more regularly.

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)
The Local 7 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato  

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Jekyll Brewing - Alpharetta Georgia

You can find Jekyll Brewing at 2855 Marconi Dr Ste 3500 Alpharetta 30005 - this is near the big McKesson complex off of Windward Pkwy right off 400. The building itself looks rather unlikely for a brewery - it's one of those industrial business parks that usually hold call-centers or office and warehouse business. Parking is in the lot out front - it's usually quite busy on the weekends but the rest of the businesses are closed so there's plenty of parking. Note that there are several doors that are marked with the Jekyll logo and only one opens into their reception area.

Once inside you'll find a large room with bags of grains on the far end and a short counter to pay, pick up tickets and get your beer poured. The day's selection will be posted on the wall behind - their standards are pretty much always in stock and there's usually one or two rotating brews. You'll get a string of tickets and a Jekyll Brewing pint mason jar providing a bit of uniqueness and fun you won't see at other breweries. Towards the short stage (they apparently have live music at times but not on the day that I visited) there are other things to do including a ping-pong table.

I had heard of Jekyll as I'm fairly active on KickStarter and other crowdfunding sites but I really had no expectations (and didn't contribute) but do remember that there were quite successful. It's obvious that the people who started Jekyll love beer - one taste of the deliciously hoppy Hop Dang Diggity will convert you for sure if you're into IPAs. I fell in love with that one the first time I tried it on draft (at the Pig 'n Chick in Chamblee if you're wondering) so I was quite excited about visiting this brewery and sampling the other wares. My first impression before stepping inside was to question what was going on - the office-park just didn't seem like the right place for a brewery. However, once inside and touring the facilities I've been totally converted and love-love this place!

Before I talk about what I sampled, the people here are super friendly with no attitude and great at serving visitors. You can tell that what they do is a labor of love, that like I said previously they love beer, and that they really want to know the people that also love their products. Second, the pours here are quite generous and you can tell by the way they watch your reaction at first sip, they enjoy the looks of pleasure - I can say from personal experience that the reaction is worth it's weight in gold to craft brewers and there's plenty of smiling, happy faces here. Third, we met several people here and struck up conversations so this wasn't your typical douchey hipster crowd - I found it refreshing to find people who love beer that didn't have the attitude I've experienced at other, similar establishments intown. I also liked this tour - some unexpected things going on and the space is much larger than it appears from the front. Make sure you take time to do this.

On to the beer -

* Hop Dang Diggity - they call this a "Southern IPA" but I think of it more of an over-hopped IPA. You'll definitely get a super hit of hops that will remind you of pine - or weed (the smoking kind), in fact some of my friends think this is as close to drinking Maryjane as you can get. Delicious with a balance of sweet and citrus that any fan of hops will love.

* Cooter Brown - "American Brown Ale" and like most brown ales, a bit on the sweeter side. I love the feel of this one on the sides of the mouth, lots of caramel and malt. I liked this but a bit too sweet for me - I found most of the females I talked to really enjoyed it.

* Hoot'n Holler'n - double IPA and an investment (two tickets) that's well worth it. I liked this one quite a bit but I felt the alcohol slightly overpowering. I prefer the alcohol hit to be hidden a bit more - a couple of these had my head swimming a bit (was given some extra tickets)...

I pretty much stuck with the Hop Dang Diggity or the Hoot'n Holler'n but did sample the JR Series Pale Ale which was good but with the Dang Diggity I'm not sure why you would drink it. I also sipped the Big Creek Kolsch and the Southern Session but neither were "my thang" so I didn't do more than taste. In all, this brewery was quite a lot of fun and the beer way above average with some fantastic examples. It is a bit far out but if you combine it with a tour of Cherry Street (in Canton) and Hop Alley Brew Pub you can stay quite buzzed all day (moderating with food in between, of course). Finish up by hitting Zest in Roswell so you can sit on the patio and yell at passers-by and make a real event of it. On the day we visited we left and did a mini-crawl of Roswell and hit a few places. More on that at a later post.

-- John

(also posted on Yelp)
Jekyll Brewing Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Eventide Brewing - Grant Park Atlanta Georgia

Eventide Brewing is located at 1015 Grant St Atlanta GA 30315 in Grant Park. It occupies a small industrial building with fenced yard about four blocks from Grant Park proper but it's a fairly easy walk from Cyclorama (add a couple of blocks to get to the street grid) if you time things right.

I met a group of friends to checkout Eventide one weekend afternoon - at the time this was one of the newer ITP Craft Breweries but since then several others have popped up - we truly live in a golden age of beer! In any case this very pet friendly brewery was having a special tasting where a portion of the fees went towards a local shelter, so there were locals with pets all over the yard. Quite fun if you're into pets and in particular dogs - lots of puppies running around enjoying the fine weather.

The brewery itself is new enough that the selection was quite manageable - I was very interested in tasting the Kolsch style ale which I had heard quite a bit about. For the $12 fee I received a plastic cup (it's normally a pint glass but today plastic due to the pet-thing). I managed to receive half-pours and try all six of the current offerings. Of them, the Kolsch was the most unusual - this light-bodied ale is crisp and very effervescent - it's a very clean ale if a bit light for my tastes. I liked the Revivale Belgian Golden Ale the best - it had an alcohol kick (at 8.5% it should!) that gave me a bit of a rush and it's noticeable on the nose. I also sampled the Dry Hopped Pale Ale, the Dry Irish Nitro Stout and the Highlander Strong Scotch Ale but honestly, each of those were a bit disappointing to me. They aren't bad, but I think I had higher expectations that what I experienced.

While the brewery was interesting and I'm glad I got to sample the current offerings, in general the beer here doesn't match up to the maturity of  Monday Night Brewing which I've been using as a yardstick to the current crop of craft brewers. I do have high hopes for Eventide and I'm sure they'll find a niche - the Kolsch is certainly a good step in the right direction. As long as they don't venture into the pilsner/sour ranges I'll still try anything new they come up with. I do love all the variety.

Service here was quite good and while the lines at times were rather long, they moved quickly. I did not take the tour as the timing wasn't right. We went from here to Old Fifth Ward to take on the Church and grab a bite (we ended up at the Sound Table which was downright righteous!).

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)
Eventide Brewing Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Orpheus Brewing - Morningside Atlanta Georgia

Orpheus Brewing is located at 1440 Dutch Valley PI NE, Atlanta, GA 30324 in the very popular Morningside neighborhood sort of between Virginia-Highlands and Ansley Mall. You access via Monroe Dr traveling south from Ansley Mall to find Dutch Valley Pl - this is not a really obvious location for a brewery as it's tucked towards the back of the street that ends right on the Beltline. Actually it might be easier to find on the Beltline as the side of the building has the Orpheus logo prominently displayed to that avenue - you'll need to look up the hill. Parking is in adjoining lots or along the street - there's usually a white sign that shows where you can park for free in various locations.

I do love breweries and Orpheus is no exception. This is a fun, industrial location a bit off the beaten path on a short industrial avenue. The neighborhood is filled with those classic bungalow-ish houses you see on intown streets, plus these straight-sided warehouse-looking businesses that almost look out-of-place but at the same time have been here so long they impart much of the area's character. Once you find a place to park walk down to the brewery - you'll have to navigate past people hanging out outside (and if you're lucky, eating from the little food stand - which was offering hotdogs on this day).

 Orpheus Brewing has been around for a while but until sometime last year I hadn't heard much about them. It was while visiting the very good YourPie in Sandy Springs that I encountered the Transmigration of Souls and went "Wow!" that something like that was made locally floored me. Needless to say I was anxious to check out the brewery solely based on that amazing double IPA. At this place you pay for a few tickets and you get a take-home glass (I now have the pint given to me at YourPie and this little stemmed beer glass from the visit). Note that the law has changed since my visit and breweries can now sell beer directly to the public so this process may have changed. The people at the counter are quite friendly and the people pouring beer are awesome.

Now some observations - maybe it's just me but this place seemed to be a hipster hangout? Many bearded Millennials wandering around in T-shirts and flip-flops but hey, who am I to judge? I'm often urban-exploring in T-shirt-and-shorts or jeans myself and I can overlook the snobbish critique overheard from the obvious beer-nerd as I wonder the crowds. Besides, if I was single I would come here every day - amazing number of female saison fanatics tasting those piquant sours and related flavors that Orpheus is known for. Not that this is a pick-up place? but plenty of eye-candy wondering this floor on the weekend. There's also a deck out the back that allows you to get in some rays and overlook the people wondering the Beltline - it's right down the hill as indicated previously.

On to the beer - as I've already stated, there's a favorite:

* Transmigration of Souls - this double IPA has everything I look for in a great beer - awesome hoppy flavor with citrus nuances and a depth you don't normally experience, and at 10% ABV it packs quite a wallop without overpowering your senses with an obnoxious alcohol hit. This is an amazing beer. Unfortunately, when we arrived they were already out - thus I got a stemmed beer glass and a handful of tickets to use on something else...

* Atalanta - this tart plumb saisson is rather acidic and dry - it's also outside of my preferred  flavor profiles - that didn't stop me from having a glass and I could tell it was quite popular.

* Peace. War. Truth. Lie - this session IPA has tons of citrus and like the Atlanta above many like it - but it didn't impress me much. To me it's overly fruity and not enough hops.

* Clio and Chickataur - both of these are sours and I just couldn't. Way too tart for me.

They also were out of the Stout which I was really looking forward to trying. So basically, the two beers I really wanted to enjoy were out and I was stuck with Atalanta and the session IPA. I still have half my tickets so the visit was basically a bust. I hope I have better luck next time (and don't worry, it won't stop me from ordering the Transmigration whenever I can find it.). Oh and don't forget to take the tour - that's REALLY what you're there for, right?

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)
Orpheus Brewing Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato