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First Draft with Jen Price

The owner of the forthcoming Atlanta Beer Boutique talks beer

"This neighborhood was not this neighborhood when I left," Jen Price says on Midway Pub's patio. The 40-year-old transportation planner grew up in DeKalb County, went to school in Florida, and spent a few years in Charlotte and Philadelphia before returning to the place she loves — where she has spent the last 15 years. Now, she lives right up the street from East Atlanta Village. "I love Atlanta," she says. "I'm glad to be back."

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Like a lot of people who love this town, she's excited about our local beer scene. And she's increasingly becoming a part of it, too. Lately, that means hosting beer brunch events at Just Add Honey Tea Company near Sweet Auburn Market, and the women-focused Beer Football and Friends (BFF) events she recently started co-hosting with her best friend and former radio personality Rashan Ali. Up next, she's planning to open the Atlanta Beer Boutique, a bottle shop and gourmet market where she can do food pairings and tastings alongside events for homebrewers and the community. She calls the idea a "beer nerd's paradise," but admits it's probably still a year away. In the meantime, Creative Loafing caught up with her about how she's preparing for the next chapter of her life and what excites her about Georgia beer now.

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Describe your first beer.

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High Life, the champagne of beers, with my dad. He used to let me drink the foam off the top, and then, when I knew he was coming home, I'd prepare his beer. I was a daddy's girl. Yeah, I've been drinking since I was five. laughs

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When did beer become something you wanted to pursue?

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Probably when I moved back home. Within the past five or six years, I realized how much more available beer is in the South. I've discovered it as its grown in Atlanta, studying it, appreciating it. It's hard to go somewhere now and not find good beer. I'm seriously in love, like, I-wanna-make-a-job-out-of-this love.

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How did the idea for the Atlanta Beer Boutique come up?

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When my friends come over, I force beer on them. My house is the hangout spot because it's right up the street, so I have a lot of friends over. And I was in a study group where we read the book One Month to Live. The whole premise is, if you have one month to live, what would you do and why aren't you doing it now? My answer was opening a beer shop and making beer my job, but I didn't have an answer to why I wasn't doing it.

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What's going to make your store stand out in our increasingly competitive beer scene?

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I wanna sell good beer, but I've found with tastings and events is that people who are on the edge of beer and want to know more need a different environment to explore that. When I go to a wine shop, I feel completely overwhelmed and terrified. I don't know what the hell to do. New people at beer shops feel the same way. I call my shop a boutique because I want it to be customer-oriented and tailored to everyone's experience. I want it to be a tasting shop with a market so that when you buy a saison you can also buy a spice blend that will go well with your salmon.

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Sounds like the events are the thing you're doing now while you figure out the boutique?

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Exactly. They started a year ago. It's fun, and it's been a good lab for me to figure out what people respond to. And it's where I figured out that women aren't really catered to and marketed to in the craft beer experience. Craft beer is very special and unique, and people are really into that. And those people appreciate an experience more than a product. I think women like being taught and engaged with in that way.

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BEER EVENTS

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Acworth Craft Beer Fest
?When: Sat., Nov. 14
?Where: Historic Downtown Acworth
?Price: $30
?Now in its second year, this festival will feature more than 100 beers, including local selections from Burnt Hickory, Cherry Street, Jekyll Brewing, Monday Night, Orpheus, and Terrapin.

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Wrecking Bar Brewpub Wood-Aged Wednesdays
?When: Every Wednesday
?Where: Wrecking Bar Brewpub
?Price: Depends how many wood-aged beers you drink
?Each week, this Little Five Points brewpub serves up a special small-batch beer that’s been aged in a wood barrel.

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5 Seasons Cask Night
?When: Every Thursday, 5:55-7:55 p.m.
?Where: 5 Seasons North and Westside
?Price: Depends how much cask ale you drink
?Each week, a different guest taps a different keg of “real cask ale.”

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