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.
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.
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.
While working on inventive lagers and ales as members of the Barley Mob Brewers home-brewing club, Chris Hunt and Duncan Guy had an epiphany: we need to share this stuff with the public. So, in 2006, they teamed up with award-winning brewer Courtney Tyvand to start Moccasin Bend Brewing Company.
Today, they brew about 10 beers at any given time. Their menu could include an Irish red prepped with American hops and a pale ale made with juniper berries one day, or their signature smoked porter the next. No matter what the beer, creativity remains integral to the production process, and the brewers often add culinary twists such as watermelon or coconut juice to surprise palates that are used to tasting only cotton balls. All the magic happens inside a 100-year-old building, where rustic granite walls and cedar timbers set the backdrop for brewery tours and beer tastings.
Most popular offering: Beer Tasting
Alcohol: Beer and wine only
Parking: Parking garage
Handicap Accessible: No
Pro Tip: Eat before arrival and arrive early.
To the guides at Southern Beer Tours, every sip of local beer can be an exciting experience. "We enjoy highlighting the big guys, the smaller guys, and the start-ups," says the company's president. As guides point out on their tours, Georgia boasts more than 20 local breweries, and numerous other start-ups expected to yield fresh brews in the near future. The guides don't stick to one route or landscape, either; they constantly rotate the regions they tour in order to visit different breweries, pubs, and the region's naturally-occurring beer geysers.