Friday, January 21, 2011

Special Feature: Hop City Craft Beer & Wine

1000 Marietta St. Atlanta, GA

Recently I caught a play at Actor's Express, and happened to notice an interesting ad in their program for a craft beer store - although the ad didn't give an address, website or phone number. Annoyed but intrigued, I later searched online and found out the place was a stone's throw away from the theatre, just off of Howell Mill Rd. on Marietta St. On Wednesday, I set off after work to check it out.

When I entered the store, a bearded man grinned at me and said, "You look like you're thirsty." And boy, was he right. I'm sure he recognized my beer-loving gaze, as my eyes went over the beautiful aisles of beer from all over the world.

There is SO MUCH good craft beer here! The store stocks lots of lots of beers I've tried at Summits Wayside Tavern (which has the best selection of draft beers in GA), such as Weihenstaphaner Weiss (Germany), Dixie Blackened Voodoo Lager (Louisiana, USA), multiple selections from Rogue (Oregon, USA). Of course they have all your regular, mainstream but good favorites like Belhaven, Woodchuck ciders, Chimay, etc.

They also have a ton of brews I haven't tried, had never even encountered. A few I noticed were: Lakefront Wheat Monkey (Wisconsin, USA); Ft. Collins Kidd Black (Colorado, USA); Paradox Spreyside from Scotland, brewed in whisky barrels; Dieu du Ciel's Aphrodite, a stout with cocoa and vanilla from Canada; Orange Blossom Pilsner - "Florida's Honey Beer"; and large bottles of various flavors of Honey Sun Iqhilika, a South African mead. !!! I'd pretty much given up on Japanese beer, finding over the years that Sapporo, Kirin and Asahi and their boring, Bud Light-esque flavor was typical of that country's taste. However, Hop City had at least 3 Japanese offerings that were completely unfamiliar to me. Can't wait to go back and try them.

If you're familiar with the liquor store Green's, think of their selection except Hop City has more craft choices. Like Green's, they also have lots and lots of singles, so you don't have to commit to anything. The singles range from about $2.50 up to . . . who knows. I saw some (like the Paradox) for as much as $10, but I'm sure they get more expensive than that. I could have easily dropped $500 in there, if only my budget allowed for that sort of alcoholic splurge.

The website also says they stock 600 kegs. 600 kegs! I'm not in the habit of throwing large parties anymore, but when I did, I could never find a keg of decent beer. Looks like that won't be a problem for anyone in Atlanta now.

The store is halved almost dead center, with the beer on the left and the wine on the right. The wine is divided up along the wall by region, with more selections on racks in the center. The bearded man turned out to be Chris, Hop City's "wine guy", and after he watched me browsing around for a minute he came over and asked if we had ever discussed wine before. When I told him no, he asked how I took my coffee. Apparently the amount of cream and sugar (or lack of it) that you prefer indicates what types of wines you'll want to drink. He gave me a few suggestions, and didn't go straight for the most expensive bottles. I ended up with a bottle of Los Loros Corte Tinto, a red blend from Argentina that Chris claimed is quite popular, for $7.99. Can't wait to try it out.

Verdict: A fantastic find for craft beer lovers. This may be the best beer store in Atlanta.

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