The kitchen at Max Lager's grills fresh game, wood-firing it with North Georgia oak and hickory, within the oldest independent brewery in Atlanta. Burgers formed from fresh ground Angus beef or bison nestle neatly on a bun bearing lettuce, onion, and tomato, alongside crisp fries or zesty corn salsa. The traditional Max burger conveys cheddar and bacon on a vessel of meat ($11 for beef; $12 for bison during dinner), whereas the Fiesta burger incites a mouth-bound mosh pit of pepper-jack cheese, sautéed onions, and bell peppers ($9 for beef; $10 for bison), providing excitement without the threat of being head-butted by someone in a bandana. The Skillet burger, topped with fried egg, ham, and bacon ($10 for beef; $11 for bison), eliminates the need to serve brunch on a smartphone to make it more portable. Salads come on board as a substitute side ($1 extra), and whole-wheat buns do a guest performance on request. The lunch menu offers more iterations of the luscious meat patty than the dinner menu, so eaters can plan accordingly.
Flanked by rustic stone columns and carved lions, 5 Seasons Brewing's entrance looks like the secluded front to a Napa Valley villa, belying its cozy atmosphere and community-focused mission to provide tasty, affordable food and drink. Founded by chef David Larkworthy—son of a pioneering advocate of using organic food in restaurants—Five Seasons Brewing carries its commitment to community to its ingredients, cooking with a cornucopia of regularly shifting local produce from a gaggle of affiliated farms. The menu features such fusion dishes as crispy alligator served with a blackened chili glaze and Remoulade. At tables, guests dig in to home-baked bread, whose warm crust exudes tangy scents from the brewery's spent beer grain.
In the towering tanks that skirt the pub, brewmaster Kevin McNerney creates a kaleidoscopic selection of unique small-batch beers. The cofounder of flagship Georgia brewer SweetWater, McNerney brings two decades of experience to his craft, making refreshing brews such as the Chug Monkey and turning to ancient Belgian traditions to make his crisp, orange-infused witbier.
Dan Vallish has been homebrewing beer as a hobby for more than 20 years. During that time, he often envisioned the perfect place to shop for his supplies. It would have all the specialty grains one could want, an onsite milling facility, and fresh yeast and hops. Ultimately, he made that vision a reality, founding Barley & Vine to be a one-stop shop for beer lovers and beer brewers, complete with a 27-tap growler bar with 26 craft beers and a cider on tap at all times.
Of course, Dan offers more than just disparate beer-brewing supplies. He teaches classes on the subject, or provides cloning kits for beginners, which contain all the ingredients to mimic Irish stouts or American pale ales. He also provides winemaking kits, which produce 6 gallons of fermented libations at a time. He even offers instructions and supplies to make cheese, so that his customers can pair their homemade beverages with the perfect snack.
Chef George Rasovsky draws upon his Czech heritage and arsenal of European spices to elevate his menu to gourmet realms. His dishes spotlight fresh herbs, organic produce, and top-quality proteins, such as free-range chicken, Atlantic salmon, and filet mignon, as well as rich sauces inspired by French and Mediterranean cuisines. The chef also curates an extensive wine list that includes red, white, and organic selections from Europe, California, and Argentina. This fusion of Southern charm and European elegance extends to the dining room, which occupies a restored historic home outfitted with umber hues, exposed brick, and a dark-mahogany tapas bar.
When Wine Shoe owners Nora and Shannon Wiley started planning the shop's design, they wanted something that would blend their worldly travels with the historic culture of the surrounding Castleberry Hill neighborhood. The result was promptly recognized by Atlanta magazine, which compared Wine Shoe to a "private wine cellar in France stocked with wines from all over the world."
Today, the facility's floor-to-ceiling wine wall stands as a new challenge to rock climbers and as a stunning backdrop to an assortment of wine-related activities, including classes that drew more than 3,000 total students during 2011. Many of those students gathered around Wine Shoe's 12-foot rustic table, where, sitting beneath a glistening bronze and crystal chandelier, they paired sips with scrumptious hunks of education.
The shop carries more than 150 different wines, the majority of which come from small producers. It also keeps its door open to pooches, as Nora and Shannon's security dog, Beeren, is always looking for new buddies with whom to discuss the nuanced flavors of rawhide bones.
The eclectic organizers at Red Frog Events take a lighthearted and fun-focused approach to building their adventurous events, such as obstacle courses, scavenger hunts, and themed bar crawls, to connect city dwellers with local neighborhoods. Their creative, interactive offerings include regularly occurring competitions such as the Warrior Dash, Great Urban Race, and Beach Dash, the proceeds from which usually benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Like the idea of having a pet rock, their events have grown more popular annually, and frequently spring up in cities across the United States.
This one-day festival features numerous local and domestic breweries, including Atlanta's own SweetWater Brewing Company (one of the nation's oldest breweries), Yuengling, and more. As you make your dynamic flight through the park, enjoy victorious stops at flip-cup and beer-pong tables, or prove that a beer in the hand is worth four in the hole during a laid-back round of cornhole. By day, enjoy live musical performances by Stokeswood, and by night, join the rowdy masses as the fest moves indoors to the Masquerade for a late-night after-party. With five solid hours of consumption, competition, and celebration, the Atlanta Summer Beer Festival might just be the coolest beer event since the unveiling of the kegerator koozie.