Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Brick Store Pub: 11th Anniversary

I have not been out and about to drink beer in many months due to many different issues going on in my life but with things finally getting back to normal, I was looking for an excuse to get out and enjoy some good beer.

When you are out to enjoy good beer in the Atlanta metro area, the first place that springs to mind is the Brick Store Pub in Decatur. This Saturday kicked off the 11th anniversary celebrations at the Brick Store so I decided to be down there when they tapped the special kegs they brought in for the occasion.

The fact that a place like the Brick Store could survive 11 years in Georgia is amazing in itself. It's even more amazing considering that until 4 years ago, no beer over 6% ABV could be sold in the state. But they did survive and since the ABV cap was lifted in 2004, they have thrived. It is the best beer bar in the state and certainly one of the best on the East Coast.

I got there just after 3 PM and Dave was on the steps giving a speech and thanking everyone for coming out to celebrate and introduce the special kegs for that day. After he was done, I headed upstairs to the "Belgian Bar" and sample the beers.

The first beer was Guido by Brouwerij De Regenboog. Happily, I knew nothing of this beer before I tried it. Had I known in advance that it was brewed with honey and raisins, I may have passed it up.

Guido poured a hazy brownish orange with a frothy but thinnish head. Very sweet fruity smells, raisin and other assorted dark fruit. The flavor is really amazing. Very sweet and fruity, with raisins and dark plum but the noble hops are there too to provide a bit of balance. Lots of spicy, yeast flavors too with a touch of alcohol burn. It's sweet but not cloying. Very unique and very tasty.

The second beer was J.W. Lees Lagavulin vintage 2001. This particular beer is the J.W. Lees Harvest Ale aged in a cask that once held Lagavulin whiskey. The Brick Store got a pin keg and I was lucky to get a glass. I have not been a huge fan of the Harvest Ale in the past but this one was fantastic.
It pours a lightly hazy dark amber with no head to speak of. I could have just smelled this beer and been satisfied. Peaty and earthy, sweet malt and whiskey from the cask. Beautiful. The taste matches the smell. Very boozy and quite sweet but always with that peaty, whisky flavor permeating throughout. Very fruity with hints of toffee and vanilla. Sweetish finish with the whisky flavor lingering.

Both beers are not ones that I would have normally tried but both were fantastic.

I went in by myself but had nice conversation with a couple of guys named Lee. One was the bartender and the other was a guy I had met at a Beer Advocate event late last year.

Normally, the beer menu would suck me in for the better part of an afternoon but I had places to go and people to meet. If you come within 100 miles of Atlanta, you have to get to the Brick Store.

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