Atlanta's Craft Beer Scene
The biggest challenge is knowing where to start!
The ATL Craft Beer Map shows the locations of 85+ breweries and brewpubs. It also shows the location of 40+ bars and restaurants that have excellent beer selections. To put that in context, the entire State of Georgia had ZERO breweries between 1972 — 1992. Atlanta got is first craft brewery in 1993, when Atlanta Brewing Company arrived on the scene. Four years later, Sweetwater Brewing Company (Georgia's largest brewery) opened its doors. In 2004, the State of Georgia lifted its ABV limit of 6% which primed the hopper for a more creative and robust beer scene. The first wave of breweries came in the late 2000's, coinciding with the explosion of the U.S. craft beer industry.
The tipping point came in 2017, when Georgia lawmakers allowed breweries to sell directly to consumers. Before that, they could only sell "tours," which came with a pint glass and a handful of beer tickets. The new law also allowed breweries to operate on-premise restaurants. Since 2017, Atlanta has experienced significant growth when it comes to new breweries. The biggest challenge for those who want to experience the ATL beer scene is knowing where to start! That's where the ATL Craft Beer Map comes in handy.
The Porter Beer Bar in Little Five Points (photo above) is considered by many to have the best craft beer program in Atlanta. It's not unusual to see people sitting at this bar with their luggage next to them, and it's not because of the restaurant's name, which is a clever reference to the baggage porters of yore. It's because they just arrived in Atlanta (and stopped at the Porter before going to their hotel) or are on their way TO the airport and wanted to make one last stop at the Porter before they fly home. The place is legendary among those who know and appreciate good beer.
Praise for Atlanta's Beer Scene...
I’ve grown to hate the question about “best” beer towns and the squabbling it inspires, but certainly a good one must have a market for breweries making idiosyncratic beers, and it should have a few making truly exceptional ones. By those standards, Atlanta passes with flying colors. New Realm, of course, is a larger and growing brewery with serious commercial aspirations. It leans into hops, with a very IPA-centric lineup. The beers, unsurprisingly, are extremely well-made and well-conceived. But then there’s Bold Monk, a 5,000-barrel brewery with a flagship Belgian quadrupel. Monday Night Brewing is fully modern, with wood-aged lagers and a lot of IPAs, but they also have a winemaker/brewer who loves wild ales. In the most surprising stop on the tour, Belgian-born Joran Van Ginderachter is making crazy good lagers and no IPAs, and Elsewhere Brewing also does great lagers and pub-strength beer. I couldn’t imagine a better quintet to demonstrate the city’s range. — Jeff Alworth, Beervanablog.com