Talking Head - Beer invasion

Yankees, Canadians and Scots send elite forces to Georgia

The march of new beers into Georgia, like so many brigades of Sherman's army, continues this week with the arrival of the Pennsylvania sharpshooters from Easton, Weyerbacher Brewing Company. Like many independent breweries that have started in the last 20 years, Weyerbacher was founded by an avid home brewer, Dan Weirback, who was encouraged by his wife to try brewing beer for a living. The couple established the company in 1995, taking the name from the original spelling of Dan's German ancestors.

Weirback started out with some basic styles like pale ale and ESB, but in 1997 he brewed up a Raspberry Imperial Stout that was a big hit, and he never looked back. Other big beers followed, including Blithering Idiot Barleywine and Merry Monks' Ale, a Belgian-style tripel. "We brew beers that we like to drink as brewers," says Weirback. "We are a very small brewery. We only made 5,300 barrels last year, but we are distributed in 16 states. We cater to a niche market."

Weyerbacher turns out a spate of well-regarded year-round specialty beers, including several barrel-aged styles. Along with the barleywine and tripel, the regular lineup includes the Hops Infusion IPA, Double Simcoe Imperial IPA, and Old Heathen Russian Imperial Stout. Weyerbacher also produces a number of interesting seasonals such as the Slam Dunkel dunkelweizen that is in the first shipment to Georgia, and the soon to be released fall seasonal, an Imperial Pumpkin Ale that is brewed with massive quantities of pumpkin, making it more "pumpkin" than your standard "garden variety" pumpkin beer. And more potent, too, at 8 percent ABV.

Meanwhile, two new international imports have hit Georgia, as well. Montreal's Brasserie Dieu de Ciel! (God of Heaven!) is part of a rapidly expanding beer scene in Quebec's largest city. Starting out as a brew pub, the company recently opened a production brewery on the outskirts of town. At least four beers will be available in Georgia. The initial shipment of the much lauded Péché Mortel (Mortal Sin), an imperial stout with coffee added, has already hit stores and disappeared. It should return to shelves soon, along with Corne du Diable (Horn of the Devil), an American-style IPA; Dernière Volonté (Last Will), a Belgian-style pale ale; and Route des Épices (Spice Route), a spiced rye beer.

You should also be seeing bottles of Brewdog on the shelves of better liquor stores. This 10-barrel brewery run by two blokes in the wilds of Scotland turns out American-style IPAs, double IPAs, and imperial stouts. Oddly, there's also an American all-malt lager, called Hop Rocker. It has come to this. Scottish lads are taking our national beer and shipping it over to us.

Devilish Beer Dinner

On Saturday, Octane is hosting a "Holy Trinity" beer dinner featuring Belgian abbey ales, but if that leaves you feeling a little too angelic, tear off those wings, slap on some horns, and head for the "Seven Deadly Sins" beer dinner at 5 Seasons North. The sinning takes place Wed., July 23, 7 p.m. Brewer Crawford Moran and chef David Larkworthy have whipped up seven gluttonous pairings celebrating them all, from greed (lobster, scallop and duck terrine with Golden Number Ale) to lust (local fruits, vanilla bean ice cream and wild flower honey crunch with Georgia Peach Honey Wheat Beer), with all your favorites in between. You can find the whole menu here. The cost is $65 per person, excluding tax and gratuity, but when you see the menu, you'll agree that it is a bargain. E-mail 5seasonsnorth@gmail.com or call 770-521-5551 to make a reservation.


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