Thursday, August 1, 2019

Wild Heaven Beer - West End Brewery and Gardens - West End Atlanta

From Parking - walk around on the left then turn left
You can find Wild Heaven Beer - West End Brewery and Gardens at 1010 White St SW, Atlanta, GA 30310 in the building to the right (from the parking) of Monday Night Garage, ASW Distillery, Hop City West End and the Boxcar - this will be on the Westside Beltline. This complex is becoming quite a brewery row destination with the upcoming Best End Brewing opening soon. You'll be able to sample and enjoy beers from several purveyors. Parking is in the fairly large lot out front - thus far I haven't seen the lot filled and have attended one very large event.

Soft Opening Day

Main Taproom

20 Main Taproom Taps

8 Patio Taps

I attended the first day of Wild Heaven Beer - West End Brewery & Garden's soft opening, which will continue for a couple of weeks  - seems the grand opening will be in another month (target is September 7). In the meanwhile the facility is being opened to the public to work out any kinks, receive additional glassware and continue populating areas with furnishings - the interiors are industrial modern with high ceilings and large vistas. Currently there's a main taproom with tables and about 20 taps, an outside patio with about 8 taps (not open on this first day), a smaller event space or maybe spill-over room (20 or so taps) with stairs to a mezzanine, and a large event space towards the back. The facility is about 21000 sq ft of space if earlier reports are right and the brewing system can do batches up to 15-barrels on a 7-Barrel system.

20 Second Room Taps

Double Line Kitchen

I spoke at length with Nick Purdy (who showed us craft beer nerds around in a short tour) who indicated that the idea is for this facility to create smaller batches - think of experimental beers - that can be bottled or kegged for the local craft beer scene and sold direct to the public in this facility. Also the kitchen will serve up food for visitors and as a catering facility to the main event space. They have a huge pizza oven so look for something special spun out as various pies.

7 Barrel System

Conditioning Tanks (Brights)

Large Event Space

Soft Opening Beer Menu

While there I sampled two beers (only had about an hour before another event):

Westy American Wild Ale

Westy American Wild Ale - Mixed fermentation with golden raspberries and service berries - tart, a bit apple-juicy and easy drinking - brewed especially for this event this. is a new beer not available in the Decatur location.

Wild Monster Fruited DIPA

Wild Monster Fruited Double IPA made with cactus fruit - Hoppy fruited NEIPA, brilliant red hue, fruity nose and finish. Surprising how good this is.

The people behind the bar are still learning the systems and are a bit disorganized but I think they'll come up to speed soon. Overall I had a great time and have high hopes for this new location!

Wed July 31 – 4pm-10pm
Thur/Fri Aug 1/2: 4pm-11pm
Sat Aug 3 – Noon-11pm
Sun Aug 4 – Noon-6pm
Mon Aug 5 – Closed
Tue/Wed Aug 6/7 – 4pm-11pm
Thur/Fri Aug 8/9: 4pm-11pm
Sat Aug 10 – Noon-11pm
Sun Aug 11 – Noon-6pm
More Info here:

Here's to Wild Heaven Beer!

Cheers! John

(also posted to yelp)

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Monday Night Brewing Garage - Atlanta Georgia

You can find Monday Night Brewing - Garage at 933 Lee St SW, Atlanta, GA 30310 between West End and Capitol View (bit of a commercial no man's land by the railroad tracks). Nearby you have Boxcar at Hop City West End and soon, the new Wild Heaven and Best End Brewing locations (currently under construction) so this will become a new brewery row. Parking is plentiful with wide-open parking lots that extend around the large, warehouse-sized buildings.

I first visited the Garage back in early 2018 for a charity event, back in the courtyard and private event space towards the east-end of the building - the place is huge with multiple bars and a deck that extends along the south end of the building - there's also a patio in the area between buildings leading up to the main entry. To give you an idea of scale, there's an Air Stream trailer inside the building. I figured with the Anniversary Party coming this weekend now would be a good time to comment on this great Atlanta brewery.

The interior is on the industrial side, a bit no frills but there are things to look at including conditioning tanks and the various bars - if they're all open it's a bit of a Universal Studios experience with doors opening into new wide-open areas and taps at each bar to discover. Typically the main area (you walk in through a patio, there's brewery swag and a bar on the right with windows opening to the outside and tanks on the left) is open most weekdays and really, there's a lot of space. You continue towards the back to the bathrooms and the next bar which seems to only be open on weekends or during special events.

Monday Night Brewing - Garage was set up, I believe, to have more room to focus on sours and barrel aged beers - the menu certainly reflect this, with classic old favorites and a whole list of specialty stouts and beers normally found in limited release bottles (which are also available for take home). The bartenders are quite attentive and know their shit, always good for recommendations - but if you want mine, start with short pours of each of the barrel aged beers and work your way backwards into those that are lighter (normally I would do the opposite but when I do I end up getting too hammered to taste all the delicious specialty beers).



(also published to Yelp)
Monday Night Garage Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, July 26, 2019

Brewery Size Definitons - Pico, Nano, Craft, etc.


I recently had a conversation regarding what makes a craft brewery a craft brewery and the difference in production that defines a nanobrewery, etc. What I've found out is that there basically are no definitions that are agreed upon by the various brewery associations, etc for craft brewery, microbrewery or nanobrewery. It seems that this is mostly a self-defined term more than an accepted system (although there may be some states or countries that DO have set terms and limits, I did find a set of Craft Beer Industry segments from the Brewers Association,  so lets start with some definitions from Wikipedia and move to those:

A brewery or brewing company is a business that makes and sells beer. The place at which beer is commercially made is either called a brewery or a beerhouse, where distinct sets of brewing equipment are called plant.

A microbrewery or craft brewery is a brewery that produces small amounts of beer, typically much smaller than large-scale corporate breweries (Ed: aka production brewers like Inbev and MillerCoors), and is independently owned. Such breweries are generally characterized by their emphasis on quality, flavor and brewing technique.

The Brewers Association defines a craft brewer as a small and independent brewer.
There are six distinct craft beer industry market segments: microbreweries, brewpubs, taproom breweries, regional breweries, contract brewing companies, and alternating proprietors.
  1. Microbrewery - A brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels of beer per year and sells 75 percent or more of its beer off-site
  2. Brewpub - A restaurant-brewery that sells 25 percent or more of its beer on-site and operates significant food services.
  3. Taproom Brewery - A professional brewery that sells 25 percent or more of its beer on-site and does not operate significant food services.
  4. Regional Brewery - A brewery with an annual beer production of between 15,000 and 6,000,000 barrels. 
  5. Contract Brewing Company - A business that hires another brewery to produce its beer. It can also be a brewery that hires another brewery to produce additional beer.
  6. Alternating Proprietor - A licensed tenant brewery that physically takes possession of a shared brewery while brewing.

Back to the topic of size definitions - the various terms have to do with the quantity of beer a brewery produces rather than the Segment definitions above. To determine the size, you start with the number of gallons or barrels of beer that the brewery creates per batch of beer (30 gallons to a barrel). Thus the size of each batch is limited by the size of the brewing equipment that is available to the brewery - you see these as fermenters and conditioning tanks (aka brights) when you look at the brewing facility.

By one definition I found, a largish craft brewery can make in excess of 100,000 barrels of beer each year - that's about 3 million gallons. For example, in 2013 the local Sweetwater Brewing made about 192,400 barrels of beer. Also in 2013 SweetWater ranked 26th among the top 50 U.S. breweries and 19th among the top 50 U.S. craft brewing companies based on sales volume because it produces less than 6 million barrels of beer annually (which seems to be the threshold for production brewing - think Budweiser or Miller). I think I read a couple of years ago that Sweetwater was now at 18th largest so no telling how much it's currently producing. I've read that they plan to open a location on the west coast and eventually also open a location in the central states so they're on the verge of bleeding into production brewing. Is this still craft beer? According to the Brewers Association, no.

In contrast to a production brewery, most larger microbreweries use between a 30 to a 60 barrel brewing system. Also most production breweries typically only have one brew system so they'll do big runs of each style, one at a time, unlike Craft breweries which can have several brewing systems where they can produce several batches at a time. What I've seen recently in craft brewing is for a largish batch of a style being made, then changes made during conditioning with adjuncts to make variations (for instance, make a large batch base Berliner Weisse then change up the fruit content so you have several releases from the same basic batch).

An average microbrewery producse around one batch of beer a day to two days. Many still produces beer using 15 barrel systems every 1-2 days for a total of 3000 barrels a year.

A nanobrewery usually uses a 3-7.5 barrel system (a fifth to half the size of a typical microbrewery) and only produces a few batches per week. Nanobrewery output is typically about 1000 barrels a year. In comparison a brewpub typically produces about the same volume per year so about the same size only most of the beer is consumed on-premise.

How about a picobrewery? This is even smaller than a nanobrewery, where the batches are made using a 1-3 barrel system and production is every-other-day to weekly for around 500 barrels a year. Compared to home brewer, which by definition is only allowed to make up to 200 gallons for personal consumption (otherwise you have to have a state and federal license), at 30 gallons to a barrel that comes out to 6.6 barrels each year. Most home brewers start with a 5 gallon system for each batch which is about a sixth of a barrel - also most home brewers brew a batch every couple of weeks to months or until the beer runs out.

So where does that get us? I think the loose thresholds are these:
  1. Production Brewery - More than 6 Million Barrels Annually 
  2. Regional Brewery - 15,000 to 6 Million Barrels Annually
  3. Craft Brewery - Less than 15,000 Barrels Annually
    1. Microbrewery - 1,000-15,000 Barrels Annually
    2. Nanobrewery - 500-1000 Barrels Annually
    3. Picobrewery - Less than 500 Barrels Annually
    4. Home brewery - Up to 6.6 Barrels Annually
Using the above it would put Sweetwater firmly in the Regional Brewery category but it's a bit fuzzy. I think most still consider them a craft beer producer (and with all the specialties coming out of the Woodlands Project there is an argument for this). Terrapin's facility currently can produce about 18,500 barrels annually but it's a moot point, since they're now owned by MillerCoors which takes them out of the craft brewery category.

Thoughts or comments on this?

-- John

Thursday, July 25, 2019

STATS Brewpub - Downtown Atlanta Georgia

You can find STATS Brewpub at 300 Marietta St NW, Atlanta, GA 30313 just up from the College Football Hall of Fame near Centennial Park. Speaking of park, the parking situation around this area basically sucks - you'll have to pay - your best bet is to leave your car in one of the nearby decks or take MARTA and walk around to several nearby things-to-do.

I knew nothing about STATS prior to being invited to attend a private event during DevNexus held by Object Frontier (shout out to those guys for doing this right). I initially entered downstairs in the main bar and then traveled upstairs to a private event space where there was food provided by STATS along with beer, both on tap and in bottles. I've since come in a couple of times and have had their brewed beer (this is a real Brewpub that offers up a few taps of whatever they happen to be brewing).

First the food - I've only eaten what was catered so probably not the ideal experience. I found it pretty generic but filling - for technology groups there's generally a lot of vegetarian options and that was the case here with hummus and pita chips, crudites, etc. They also had nachos and chicken wings that seem to be pretty good (no idea what they are on the menu so there may be a separate catering menu). On my initial visit I had a Kostritzer Schwarzbier black lager and a Paulaner Hefe-Weizen that were both pretty good.

Since then I've had a couple of their own brews:

  • Slug Nutty Imperial New England IPA - I liked this quite a bit - pretty awesome hazy DIPA from STATS. Citrus, juicy and a bit of hops, just like I like with great mouthfeel. 
  • Ryes Up Rye IPA - More IPA than not, good rye nose and a clean finish. 

The service both during the event and in subsequent visits has been very good. At some point I'll come back with a group and try more of the food options. This is the only downtown brewery currently so if you're looking for options and staying near the park, this is a pretty good one.

(Also posted to Yelp)
Stats Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Indio Brewing Co - Sugar Hill Georgia

Indio Brewing Co Temporary Sign
 You can find Indio Brewing at 5019 W Broad St NE Ste M145, Sugar Hill, GA 30518 on the main drag by what looks like local city government.  Parking is in a shared lot or in a basement parking deck if you prefer. You walk from the lot or across a bridge to the building, which has multiple businesses and you'll initially see a Tavern - if you walk around the patio you'll eventually see the door for Indio Brewing.

Indio Brewing Co Folding Sign

Indio Brewing Co Exterior from Patio

I attended Indio Brewing on it's grand opening Saturday 2019.07.21 with Michelle T. and am writing this review the Sunday following. The place is pretty small with a bar that extends from the entry to the back until it hits the brights - seems to be a 5-7 barrel system. There's seating on the right and appears to handle about 25 or so people comfortably with all kinds of space outside on the patio - entering the place was pretty full. On this day it was fairly hot and I was confronted by a menu with 7 beer option and 3 new tapped options to be made available at intervals during the day. We each got a 3/4 pour (the options was 3/4 or full pint pour) and headed outside looking for a shady spot. The patio is fantastic with views of the water feature down below and a pretty amazing amphitheater - kudos to the City of Sugar Hill for providing such a beautiful space.

Indio Brewing Co Interior Bar

Indio Brewing Co Beer Menu

Indio Brewing Co Beer Special Releases

Indio Brewing Co Bright Tank

Indio Brewing Co Sugar Hill Amphitheater

For this initial visit we tried four beers:

* Sunrise Mango and Guava Sour - had a touch of salt so I suspect this is a fruited gose. Very easy drinking for a sour - in the Berliner or gose range with good balance of sugars to bitterness (hardly non). Dry body and finish.

* Tropical Thunder American IPA - Hazy with tropical notes mostly citrus, mango and guava - still a bit green with the typical throat burn, dry body and finish.

* Indio Sweet City New England IPA - Very solid NEIPA with great tropical notes, mostly citrus and juicy body. Dry slightly hoppy finish. This ended up being my favorite of the 4.

* Sour Patch Fruited Sour - Easy drinking sour, warm fruit flavors of pear, apple and citrus, quite good.

Indio Brewing Co Sunrise Mango and Guava Sour

Indio Brewing Co Tropical Thunder American IPA
Indio Brewing Co Indio Sweet City New England IPA

Indio Brewing Co Sour Patch Fruited Sour
I also had a chance to speak with the proprietor, Jonathan who was quite excited and eager to speak with us - seems he really likes the Torched Hop concept and eventually wants to do food too as a Brewpub (on this day there was a small Empanada popup Frita Kale-O which will be familiar to many of you who frequent the breweries) so of course we partook of a pair of empanadas too.

Empanadas from Frita Kale-O Pop-up

I thought this was a very find grand opening indeed with friendly service, relatively short lines and a good initial lineup - I'll be coming back and hope for great things from this brewery!

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