Atlanta Summer Beer Festival Guest Review
Story and photos by Tonya Cooner-Vots
Celebrating Atlanta’s beer makers for the fifth year in a row, the 2011 Atlanta Summer Beer Festival (ASBF) brought together regional and national brewers on Saturday, June 25, 2011, at The Masquerade Music Park, an outdoor venue behind the famed Masquerade night club. According to Mike DiLonardo, operations director for the fest, 2,400 tickets were presold but 1,100 would be available at the door.
“I bought enough beer for that many people,” he says.
Two music stages and local food vendors were the finishing touches for what turned out to be a rain-free afternoon of beer sampling and socializing.
Patrons armed with sturdy 16 oz. plastic sampling cups spread out to see what was available. Just past the entry gate one could find goods from the newest Georgia breweries, Wild Heaven and JailHouse Brewing. Both have enjoyed mass acceptance and a rising demand from the local crowds.
“We got a great response at the Atlanta Summer Beer Fest last year,” says JailHouse brewery representative Chad Baker. “We were looking forward to being a part of it again this year.”
More than 35 breweries poured year-round favorites as well as seasonal beers. Larger craft brew entities including Sam Adams, New Belgium and Flying Dog were well represented, but the stars of this beer fest were the Atlanta and Georgia breweries and businesses. Regional giant Sweetwater Brewing offered signature beers, and a seasonal brew.
“Motorboat is a little early this year,” says Sweetwater’s Brian O’Connell, referring to the annual late summer brew. “But that makes me happy and I know it will those who have been looking forward to it.”
A few feet away, Athens-based Terrapin Beer Company served up summer favorites including Sunray Wheat Ale. Across the grassy lawn, local brewery vanguard Red Brick Brewing (also known as Atlanta Brewing Co.) stayed busy, pouring the brews that made it famous along with its latest, Dog Days Ale.
Other parts of the local beer culture were represented in style. Atlanta brewpub Max Lager’s brought its own crew to pour a few popular pub creations, including Gimme Chocolate Bock, which was probably one of the darkest ales poured at the ASBF. Ale Yeah, a craft beer retailer from Decatur and the newest Georgia shop to start selling fresh-filled growlers, sported a table of self- branded merchandise for beer patrons.
A new addition to the Georgia beer scene is Frozen Pints. Headed by founder and president Ari Fleischer, this trailblazing company makes craft beer flavored ice cream. With flavors like Honey IPA and Malted Milk Chocolate Stout, lines were long for this “must-try” item.
“We’re mainly handing out samples at beer fests and events,” Fleischer says. “We are looking for a distributor, but so far, the reaction has been great.”
Volunteers at the fest seemed to be semi-knowledgeable about what they were pouring. More than one volunteer professed loyalty to the beer fests hosted at the Masquerade.
“These people are family,” says Joe, a veteran beer fest volunteer. “I love working beer fests at this place.”
With plenty of green grass and a little natural shade to boot, the Masquerade Music Park seemed well suited to this size of fest and this was the second year at this location. If the fest grows, another location may be in order. DiLornardo hinted at fall and spring fests for the Atlanta Beer Festival series, in addition to this one and the winter version.
“October 8 is locked in,” he says, referring to an autumn festival currently under development.