From tastings to taprooms, Atlanta breweries changing for the better

  • Bob Townsend
  • For the AJC
8:00 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017 Food
Henri Hollis
At the Garage (Monday Night Brewing’s second location), the large central bar has two sets of taps, allowing quick service for guests at the taproom. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS

In September, Atlanta’s Monday Night Brewing opened its second location, dubbed the Garage, along a recently completed section of the Beltline in the West End.

The ambitious 22,000-square-foot warehouse space at Lee and White streets includes a taproom and private event space, and a facility dedicated to a new sour and barrel-aged beer program, complete with a coolship for open fermentation and multiple foeders.

For the AJC
A crowded Saturday afternoon during football season at the new Monday Night Garage. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS

Adding to both the ambiance and utility of the project, there’s a landscaped urban orchard that offers a shady place to relax, and will soon provide fruit and wild yeast for a crop of new and experimental beers.

What’s less obvious observing the crowds that gather every day of the week to drink and hang out is that the Garage would not have existed without the recent changes in state law that allowed Georgia brewers to sell beer directly to consumers.

“There is no way that opening the Garage makes economic sense without the law changing,” says Jonathan Baker, who serves as Monday Night’s marketing and creative director.

“The ability to market ourselves and sell a pint of beer directly to the consumer, and to do small-batch stuff and test our recipes is the premise this was built around.”

She is a seasoned beverage professional and she’s sharing her bartending pet peeves, her favorite cocktail and more. (Erica A. Hernandez/AJC)

As it turns out, that premise has already proved to make perfect sense.

“The Garage has exceeded all of our expectations, so far,” says Baker. “We’re only a few weeks in, but it turned out kind of beautiful. It’s really stunning inside, and the reaction to the new beers has been great.

“But what’s really nice is that the neighborhood has really embraced us. They’re starting to treat us like we’re a brewery you’d see in any other state, where you can pop in for a beer and then go hang out after that.”

For the AJC
The path into the Monday Night Garage is lined with seating and fire pits, and there’s a dedicated space for cornhole. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS

The Beltline also was an important part of the design and allure of the Garage, Baker says.

“There are so many areas to just hang out,” he says. “We’ve got a great space, and we purposely built things like paths and fire pits to take advantage of that. Inside, we have big tables, little tables, and you can spend 30 minutes in one area and pick up and go to another area and almost feel like you’re in a different bar.”

And what does the future hold for the Garage?

“Since we’re open seven days a week, we’re working on programs like biking and running clubs, and having a lot more food trucks and pop-ups here for the neighborhood,” Baker says. “The future is more and better everything.”

Under the old Byzantine system of Georgia beer laws, guests were required to take a tour and buy tickets for limited tastings. Now you’re free to enjoy a pint, and tour or not tour, as you please.

As a result, many Atlanta breweries are expanding or remodeling to add taprooms, along with new glassware and other amenities. Here are four to visit to take full advantage of the new freedoms.

Red Brick — Georgia’s oldest craft brewery recently marked its 24th anniversary with a celebration at its newly remodeled tasting room. Try its flagship Hoplanta IPA, seasonal favorite Vanilla Gorilla Imperial Porter, or new Penguin Pale Ale. 2323 Defoor Hills Road NW, Atlanta. 404-355-5558, www.redbrickbrewing.com.

Reformation — Known for its Belgian-style beers, such as Cadence Dubbel, the Woodstock brewery also offers Atlas and Oren IPA, and more. The “Keeping Room” is a cozy taproom to hang out and try them all. In 2018, a second location is set to open downtown. 500 Arnold Mill Road, Woodstock. 678-341-0828, reformationbrewery.com.

Scofflaw — Atlanta’s hottest brewery recently celebrated its first anniversary. Its family-friendly, far Westside taproom is always busy, hosting football viewing parties and even a mini petting zoo. But the beer nerds go for the Basement, Double Jeopardy and Westside IPAs. 1738 MacArthur Blvd. NW, Atlanta. 404-343-2832, scofflawbeer.com.

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