Monday, November 23, 2009

THE BEST NON-BOTTLING BREWERY NO ONE’S HEARD OF

One thing that fans the flames of the beer obsessive’s world is the fact that, thankfully, most of our chosen brewers actually bottle their wares. This mere fact ensures that we don’t typically have to travel to one set location to try a particular brewer’s creations, and can instead choose from a variety of pickup locations within their distribution areas. Moreover, there’s the ability to order online from great retailers like ARCHER LIQUORS or SOUTH BAY DRUGS; there’s ease-of-portability that comes from having a big suitcase with nooks & crannies big enough to hide 3-4 twenty-two-oz. bottles of beer in; and of course, the wonders of beer trading. All are facilitated by the glass bottle, or in rare cases, the aluminum can.

Sure, there are some people who’ll go even further when things get desperate. And when do things get desperate? That’s right, when the brewer you’ve been salivating over doesn’t do any bottling/canning. That’s when you start seeing things like “growler trades”, which are patently preposterous, and yet commendable in some odd way. That’s where I go to my local brewer, fill up a growler (i.e. a giant container) of beer from the tap, box it up, pay ridiculous fees to ship it to you, and then you get it 5-7 days later, at which point you put it in your fridge and drink it fairly quickly. That had better be some damn good beer. That had better be some beer from Atlanta’s 5 SEASONS BREWING, who, upon the evidence, I’ve decided is the best non-bottling brewery that no one’s ever heard of.

And it’s not like you’d expect it from these guys. They’re no one-man indie experimental show like Brian Hunt at MOONLIGHT BREWING, experimenting with spruce tips and such, and straight-up refusing to bottle. Nope, 5 SEASONS are a high-end, three-location, Atlanta-based chain, with beautiful interiors, fresh dinners – and oh by the way – incredible beer. I went there two weeks ago right after landing in Atlanta for work. It was my third trip there, twice to their Westside location & once to the Sandy Springs location. Not only have I yet to have a bad beer from them, I’ve had some absolute knockouts, like their VENUS witbier that I reviewed a few months ago. This time I tried two more winners, and with head buzzing & mood greatly improved after a 4-hour flight, I bestowed upon them the honorific we’re discussing presently.

Here’s what I enjoyed:

5 SEASONS DARK WHITE – Wow, we’re reviewed two weirdo white beers/witbiers in a row on this blog, after tasting zero in the first four decades of our (my) life. This has that hallowed witbier smell – orange, coriander, yeast – and yet it’s as dark as night. Like any dark beer worth its salt, this one has a vaguely roasted taste to it, which is pleasantly befuddling in light of the more broad smell/taste of the beer, which is excellent. The yeasts and orange flavors absolutely coat the tongue here, contributing to a fresh, delicious and wholly unique beer. This was my epiphany beer, where I realized I was truly in the hands of the masters at 1000 Marietta Street. 9/10.

5 SEASONS 1972 BELGIAN BROWN ALE – Well, this too doesn’t taste like a traditional brown ale at all, and hallelujah for that. It’s got a slight, very mild funk to it, and man does it taste Belgian. Bruges comes to Atlanta in this glass right here. Very carbonated and fizzy. Yeasty. Spicy. Great tang to it. Totally and utterly unclassifiable. My only regret is that I didn’t bring you a growler of it. 7.5/10.

Need it be said that, along with the BRICK STORE PUB in Decatur, this should be a must-stop for you should your adventures ever bring you to Atlanta, Georgia, in the heart of “the Peachtree State”?

2 comments:

Michael Day said...

Jay, do any of your locals ever get any of the Walking Man beers on tap? They are a great little brewery on the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge. As far as I know, they don't bottle any of their beers either and they have some killers.

Definitely worth a trip next time you're in the area.

Jay said...

No, I've read really good things about them, but have never seen the beers - not even in Seattle. It may be that I don't know ALL the great local breweries in the USA - yet.