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.
A pioneer in Decatur's full-scale production brewing scene, BlueTarp Brewing Co. first opened its doors to the public in December of 2012. Owner and brewmaster Tom Stahl started from humble roots, making his first beers at home. However, after roughly one year of homebrewing, Stahl realized that he wanted to aim higher and began planning to expand into a full business?a story he shared with The Art of Beer podcast. Currently, BlueTarp Brewing Co. lures visitors with public tours of the production facility as well as tastings of the most current releases. These brews cover a broad range of styles, including a dark, hearty stout brimming with notes of coffee and chocolate and a heavily dry-hopped double IPA with a sweet, sturdy core of malt that can withstand any Pilates workout.
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.