Come sip and eat at these four hotspots in the Empire City of the South
Story and photos by Ale Sharpton
As a globetrotting beer and lifestyle journalist, I can confidently say that Atlanta, Georgia has become a craft beer king in the Southeast.
That’s right. ‘Nuff respect to Charlotte, N.C., Charleston, S.C., Tampa, Fla., and of course Asheville, N.C., to name a few metropolises that can stand up to a debate, but Atlanta reigns.
It wasn’t always this way. After suffering for decades and making the most out of the severely limited selection of craft beer in Georgia due to the archaic alcohol-by-volume limit set at six percent, the passing of House Bill 645 in 2004 changed the game—and lives—for beer lovers, breweries, distributors, retailers and, in my case, media, throughout the state. The new 14 percent limit opened the floodgates and particularly the city of Atlanta thrived from it, eventually becoming a revered craft beer destination. After a few more deregulations loosened up the reins in the beer scene, including breweries being able to sell directly to consumers, Atlanta climbed to leadership status.
Here are my picks of four Atlanta spots that not only specialize in filling tulip glasses with the world’s finest ales and lagers, but also make it a priority to chef up mouthwatering fare to pair with the libations.
Nestled in Downtown Decatur stands one of the top ten beer bars in the world. With more than 20 years of excellence, this rustic bi-level institution is renowned for its strict policy of selling beer solely from independently-owned craft breweries. The first floor serves primarily American-sourced ales and lagers, while Belgium dominates the foreign taps one floor above. The food is gangster, too. When it’s time to visit the water closet, you’ll pass Brick Store’s buzzing kitchen rocking out to hip-hop, ‘80s rock, and other genres of music while preparing savory pub fare. Standouts include fish and chips, Brunswick stew, a fresh field green salad with house-made Farm Goddess dressing served alongside pan-fried trout, and hearty chicken pot pie. Want to know more? Check out my story on Craftbeer.com documenting Brick Store Pub’s history, too. It’s literally royalty.
How many legitimate beer bars have their own garden as the main source for their vegetables? Well, that’s what husband-and-wife team Nick and Molly literally bring to patrons regularly alongside an astounding array of beers, ciders, and spirits. Based in the heart of the bohemian-flavored Little Five Points district boasting the truest form of ATL’s diversity, the Porter is a must for any beer advocate. You never know what to expect from the constantly changing beer and food menus. Impressive bites include a slamming burger, Belgian fries, mussels, vinegar popcorn, shrimp n’ grits, whatever the vegan special might be on any given day, and an awesome brunch during the weekends to soak up the alcohol from the previous night’s debauchery.
There is no other brewpub like owner and brewmaster Andy Tan’s Hopstix—that’s true not only in Atlanta, but nationwide. Besides award-winning house brews like the Seven Seas and Hooligans, plus Kung Fu Hops IPA (my fave) and a handful of cold ones from select local Georgia breweries, Tan inventively brought his Indonesian roots to the burgeoning city of Chamblee. The result is jaw-dropping décor, a long list of Japanese whiskies, and some of the best Asian-inspired fare in the South. Hopstix boasts the freshest sushi, meats grilled on robatas, locally-sourced vegetables, soups made daily in house, Ramen variations, build-your-own poke bowls, and even a Wagyu burger. Don’t miss this extraordinary imbibing and dining experience that’s already—in its first year of operation!—garnering awards as one of the best brewpubs in the nation from USA Today.
The Argosy will forever be considered one of the most stunning interiors for a venue specializing in beer. Formerly a mall that sold antiques, this multi-level, 7,500 square-foot gastropub has kept a lot of the wood paneling, exposed brick, and other nostalgic architectural elements, but seasoned them with nautical embellishments to create an undersea theme. The Brigantine Beer Parlor and Recreation Hall hidden in the rear also flaunts a giant squid sculpture suspended from the ceiling for more eye candy. Besides an extensive beer menu showcasing the latest that especially the American craft beer scene has to offer, Argosy’s wood fire pizzas prepared in front of patrons, daily fish specials, vegan poutine, and one of the city’s best Impossible Burgers especially make this the best venue for vegetarians who love ales.
More To Sip & Savor…
Atlanta boasts a long list of impressive spots that are worth including on your agenda when you want to savor the best of craft beer and delectable fare. Here are a few more of my recommendations…
During the Coronavirus pandemic, many venues are limiting public access and events with safety in mind. Please call to confirm visitor details in advance. We anticipate that regular operations will resume as soon as possible. In the meantime, wash your hands frequently, stay safe, and keep calm.