There are gazillion world class beer destinations inside the perimeter, but craft beer bars, though gaining traction, remain a bigger challenge in the suburbs. I thought it would be helpful to offer up a list of my top six outside-the-perimeter beer destination recommendations. Some on the list will be expected, but a few may surprise some.
So, without further ado and in no particular order here are my top 6 OTP beer destinations.
5 Seasons Brewing North
3655 Old Milton Pkwy, Alpharetta
Back in 2007, this ski lodge shaped brewpub opened to the public on Old Milton Pkwy giving Alpharetta its first ever gastropub. Despite its size, it’s a warm, cozy space. And the staff is a fun eclectic mix of characters who generally know their stuff. A big part of this bewpub’s success has been the synergy between brewer and kitchen. Brewmaster Crawford Moran (formerly of Dogwood Brewing) puts out a witty selection of handcrafted beers that pour in sync with the kitchen’s local farm-inspired offerings. This brewpub wasn’t given the title gastropub — it earned it.
25 S Main St, Alpharetta
This downtown Alpharetta brewpub recently celebrated its first birthday and judging by the crowds, it won’t be their last. Owner/brewer Brandon Hintz doesn’t push the envelope nearly as much as most other American craft brewers, but he does put solid well-balanced beers on tap for his guests. The kitchen has managed to keep the menu humble yet the food they put out is a far cry from your typical ho-hum pub grub. The Alpharetta beer scene took a giant step forward when this brewpub opened.
The Wing Cafe & Tap House
2145 Roswell Road, Suite 170, Marietta
Formerly Wild Wing Cafe, this fun wing joint flaunts as strong a beer program as you’ll find anywhere in the city. Yes, I did say anywhere. And it’s all laid out by geographical location in a user-friendly thick black leathery book. With the name change from Wild Wing Cafe came a new and improved menu. The BACO-Burger, a premix of local grass fed beef and applewood smoked bacon from Heywood’s Provision Company next door, has me seriously considering a move to Marietta.
Rick Tanner’s Grille & Bar
5810 Bond St, Cumming
Nick Tanner, son of longtime rotisserie chicken guru Rick Tanner, returned home from college in Colorado with a knack for brewing. He’s added to his father’s popular Cumming chicken joint by adding his skillfully crafted beers that sell under the name Cherry Street Brewing Cooperative. The brewery is actually located next door, but the taps at Tanner’s flow his beers freely. Who knew the kid could brew?
Summit’s Wayside Tavern
3334 Stone Mountain Highway, Snellville 770.736.1333
525 Lake Center Pkwy, Cumming 770.886.4374
2990 Eagle Drive, Woodstock 770.924.5315
Owner Andy Klubock is one of our city’s great craft beer pioneers. His 3 suburban outposts make the occasional OTP journey worthwhile. Both bottle and tap selections are strong, if not dizzying. Klubock and his crew routinely tap quality casks and offer what might possibly be the largest selection of Rogue beers in the city. He’s also known to throw some of the wildest beer dinners around. Suburban hopheads need raise a glass to Andy for shortening their ride.
Empire State Pizza & Growlers
5000 Winters Chapel Rd, Dunwoody
Owner Todd Pinkerton, a Dunwoody native, is a craft beer guy who just so happens to be a pizza maker, who just so happened to stumble across the rare Dunwoody municipal code allowing growlers to be sold out of restaurants, and decided his hometown would be the perfect place for a second location. The beer taps are hidden in a back room like a speakeasy. The selection of more than 40 options is constantly changing and surprisingly well balanced — not overloaded with IPAs. Go out to grab a pizza with the family, and return with a growler.