Talking Head - Festivaaaaal!

Beer is best when you share it with your friends

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Photo credit: Joeff Davis
2008 Summer Beer Festivals in ATL

With spring finally here, festival season is underway, and that includes several fine beer festivals. Festivals can be crowded and hectic, but they're the best way to sample the overwhelming number of different styles and brands available that are worthy of a whole six-pack purchase. Most offer unlimited tastings for a set price, with a tasting usually consisting of a 4-ounce pour. If you really like a particular label, though, you can usually get a little bit more. Distributors often use beer fests to promote new brands and seasonal styles from their existing stable, so look for new stuff rather than fill up on what you can get every day at the grocery store. Magic Hat Brewery from Vermont will be distributed in Georgia soon (it's already on tap at Taco Mac), so you'll probably get a chance to sample it at upcoming festivals. Its marketing machine is similar to Sweetwater's, with accessible beers, lots of merchandise and a party atmosphere, so the locals better step up their game. Here's a preview of some upcoming festivals in the Southeast ...

If you're looking for something to do this weekend, you could do worse that driving down to the Pensacola area for the Gulf Breeze Beer Fest sponsored by Aloha Fine Wines. Admission is cheaper than most at $20, and it's just a few minutes from Pensacola Beach! The event promises more than 300 beers from 15 countries, along with red beans and rice and jambalaya to soak it all up. Visit www.alohafinewines.com for more information.

Now in its seventh year, the Dunwoody Beer Festival "Hops for Hope" benefiting Camp Twin Lakes for special-needs children is slated for Sat., May 17, 2-7 p.m. in the Perimeter Mall parking lot. More than 150 beers, malt beverages and liquors from around the world will be featured. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the gate. German beer maid costumes are popular, but optional.

Tickets are on sale now for the East Atlanta Beer Festival in the East Atlanta Village on Sat., May 31. The festival takes place on the grounds of the J.B. Gordon School, at the corner of Moreland and Metropolitan avenues, and will feature around 100 beers from dozens of breweries, along with food vendors, live music from Entropy and Hair of the Dog, and more.  Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the gate. A ticket gets you a tasting glass, which can be exchanged for a souvenir pint glass on the way out. Advance purchase is recommended, not just for the $5 savings, but to avoid the aggravation of waiting in the long line that inevitably forms.

Next up on the beer festival calendar, celebrate Flag Day by waving your beer standard high at the 3rd Annual Creative Loafing Beer Fest on Sat., June 14 in Woodruff Park downtown. The festival runs from 2-7 p.m. and features a Beer’lympics theme. Sample food and drinks while participating in casual, beer-compatible games such as corn hole, horseshoes, and darts. And of course, there will be live music. Stay tuned to this page, as well as Creative Loafing for more details soon. 

Beer Dinner News

Beer lovers have to choose between two tempting beer dinners on Tues., April 29. Brick Store Pub will host a dinner that features Malheur beers from Belgium's Brouwerij de Landtsheer. Five courses will be paired with five Malheur beers, including the famed Malheur Brut and Brut Noir – dry, sparkling beers prepared in the "methode champenoise." The Malheur 6 (Belgian pale ale), Malheur 10 (Belgian strong pale ale) and Malheur 12 (quadruple) also will be served. Roast pork on crispy plantains, red chili-seared diver scallops, and braised oxtail are among the items on the menu. Tickets are $65 per person and are available at the Brick Store now.

If you're a Lagunitas fan, you'll want to be at the Lindbergh Taco Mac on Tues., April 29, for a beer dinner featuring five beers from Lagunitas Brewing Company (including the new Sonoma Farmhouse Saison-style ale). Also featured will be Lagunitas Pils, HopStoopid, Lumpy Gravy and Hairy Eyeball. The menu includes a pea-and-lobster bisque, Chinese duck salad, roast filet of beef, and Valrhona chocolate bread pudding with caramel sauce. Send an e-mail to beerdinner@tappanstreet.com for more information. If you can't make it to the dinner but want to try the Lagunitas saison, you're in luck; it's the Beer of the Month at all Taco Mac locations in April.

Talking Head columnist Jeff Holland can be reached at jeff.holland@creativeloafing.com