The craft beer industry is one of the fastest-growing in the United States. The Brewers Association counted more than 6,300 craft microbreweries and brewpubs in the United States in 2017, and that number is rapidly increasing as more breweries are opening all over the country.
Georgia brewing laws are less flexible compared to most other states, and that has slowed the expansion of our local industry. But the passing of Senate Bill 85 in September 2017 allowed breweries more freedom to profit from on-site beer sales, meaning they now function more like bars and community hubs where the beer is made fresh. That means the best way to support your local brewer is to go into the brewery, get to know the people who make your favorite beer, and walk away with a six-pack or two.
Here’s a list of breweries and brewpubs to visit in the Atlanta area, with a recommendation or two from each:
Note that “ABV” stands for “Alcohol By Volume” — basically how strong a beverage is.
Arches Brewing is just north of the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. The brewery specializes in classic and seasonal European lagers, including its flagship Unseasonal Lager at 5.4 percent ABV.
Address: 3361 Dogwood Dr, Hapeville
The obscure and underrated Bluetarp Brewing Co. has been serving craft beer just on the edge of downtown Decatur since 2012. Decatur’s first full-scale production brewery hosts a small but varied roster of beers, ranging from a very low ABV Grapefruit Funk Weisse at a chuggable 2.6 percent to the hefty sipper Last Place Stout at 12.5 percent ABV.
Address: 731 E College Ave, Decatur
Located just south of Grant Park and Zoo Atlanta, Eventide Brewing is an old-school style brewery with a classic DIY approach. Most of their brewing equipment was hand-made by CEO Nathan Cowan, a 4th-generation Engineer by trade, and his motto is “Good beer doesn’t have to be complicated.” This shows in Eventide’s small and approachable core beer list, which includes its flagship 5.3 percent ABV Kolsch Style Ale and 7 percent ABV Kattegat Baltic Porter.
Address: 1015 Grant St SE, Atlanta
Monday Night Brewing is one of the most high-profile breweries in Atlanta, known for its wall of hanging neckties and a solid core beer list with interesting seasonals and one-off collaborations added to mix it up. The brewery’s motto is “Weekends are overrated,” and it is notably open on Mondays, unlike many other breweries in Atlanta. Look for Monday Night’s flagship 5 percent ABV Dr. Robot sour and 7.4 percent ABV Blind Pirate Blood Orange IPA.
Address: 670 Trabert Ave NW, Atlanta
Not to be confused with Monday Night’s original West Midtown brewery, the Garage is Monday Night’s BeltLine location in the Lee + White development project. The space holds a very large seating and event area, with a production facility focused on limited-edition funky, sour and barrel-aged projects.
Address: 933 Lee St SW, Atlanta
Orpheus Brewing is located just off the northern edge of Piedmont Park, known for taking dramatic inspiration from the Greek myth of Orpheus, a famous hero and musician, in naming their beer. The brewery sources its can art design from local artists, also displaying local art in the brewery and at monthly live painting sessions. Orpheus does a lot of funky sour ales, but is most known for its brawny Transmigration of Souls IPA at 10 percent ABV.
Address: 1440 Dutch Valley Pl NE, Atlanta
Red Brick Brewing is the oldest operational craft beer brewery in Atlanta, originally opened as Atlanta Brewing Company in 1993. Over the years, Red Brick has sunk its roots deep in the city, forming lasting collaborations with The Vortex Bar and Grill and the Georgia Aquarium. Look for Red Brick’s 5.3 percent ABV Laughing Skull Amber Ale on draft at The Vortex or in cans all over the city.
Address: 2323 Defoor Hills Rd NW, Atlanta
“Scofflaw” is a prohibition-era name for a person who illegally drinks alcohol. The staff at Scofflaw Brewing Company may be rebels without a cause in 2018, but they wear the badge proudly with their “ugly goat” mascot, vulgar beer names, and gritty aesthetic. The 7.5 percent ABV Basement IPA is Scofflaw’s flagship, but keep an eye out for beers that raise money to fight various diseases, like the 7.5 percent ABV Fxxx Cancer IPA.
Address: 1738 MacArthur Blvd NW, Atlanta
Second Self Beer Company keeps a low profile amid the other Midtown breweries, but the company’s big personality can be seen in the creativity of its beer. Look for the exotic and spicy Thai Wheat with ginger and lemongrass at 5.1 percent ABV. For a nerdier brew, try the 6.1 percent ABV Triforce IPA, named for a popular video game series.
Address: 1317 Logan Cir NW, Atlanta, GA 30318
For the average Georgia beer drinker, SweetWater Brewing Company’s 5.7 percent ABV 420 Extra Pale Ale was likely the first introduction to local craft beer. SweetWater is one of the most recognizable beer brands in Georgia, known for its annual SweetWater 420 music festival and environmental protection partnerships.
Address: 195 Ottley Dr NE, Atlanta
Three Taverns Craft Brewery is a larger brewery in Decatur with an emphasis on Belgian style beer. The brewery’s flagship 7.5 percent ABV A Night on Ponce IPA is most commonly found in bottle shops, but the funky sours in the Sour Asylum series are also very popular.
Address: 121 New St, Decatur
For the less hoppy palate, Atlanta’s first hard apple cidery opened in 2016. Urban Tree Cidery’s English-style cider is more dry and crisp than popular American brands like Angry Orchard or Crispin, giving it a complex flavor comparable to wine. The 6.5 percent ABV Original cider is a good introduction.
Address: 1465 Howell Mill Rd NW, Atlanta
Wild Heaven Beer was founded by lifelong Georgia natives, happy to experiment with interesting ingredients and collaborations. The brewery specializes in wild ales and strong IPAs, but the flagship 4 percent ABV Emergency Drinking Beer session ale is the most recognizable.
Address: 135 Maple St B, Avondale Estates
Brewpubs are distinct from breweries in that they feature a full, working kitchen in addition to a brewhouse. They tend to focus on the in-house experience rather than outside distribution, and many of them offer a full food menu with beer pairing suggestions.
The Atlanta location of 5 Seasons Brewing Company offers craft beer, locally sourced food and patio seating right by Woodruff Arts Center. Try the 9 percent ABV Seeing Dubbel and the grilled crawfish and andouille sausage ravioli. For beer drinkers outside the perimeter, 5 Seasons also has locations in Sandy Springs and Alpharetta.
Address: 1000 Marietta St NW #204, Atlanta
The Gordon Biersch brewery restaurants are a national brand with 35 locations in the United States, specializing in authentic German style lagers and comfort food. Try the classic Oktoberfest Marzen style at 5.7 percent ABV with a German breaded chicken schnitzel.
Address: 3242 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta
New Realm Brewing Company opened on the BeltLine in early 2018, and quickly rose in prominence in the Atlanta craft brewing industry. The brewery and restaurant does it all, focusing on quality beer and food, as well as canning and production. Try the 11.5 percent ABV Radegast triple IPA and pair with the Radegast burger.
Address: 550 Somerset Terrace NE #101, Atlanta
Max Lager’s Wood-Fired Grill & Brewery is a homey brewpub specializing in fire-grilled meats, barbecue and pizzas. Try the 5.8 percent ABV Three Threads Porterover with the house smoked hickory pork chop.
Address: 320 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta
The Athens-based Terrapin Beer Co. opened an Atlanta foothold in The Battery Atlanta late 2017, serving a rotating catalogue of Terrapin beers on draft and a new Chopsecutioner Bat Wood Aged IPA at 5 percent ABV, served alongside smoked meats from from Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q. The site also houses Terrapin’s ATL Brew Lab, which brews experimental and one-off beers exclusively for the Taproom.
Address: 755 Battery Ave SE, Atlanta
Torched Hop Brewing Co. is a large brewpub in Midtown, boasting an extensive line of rotating beer on tap along with pizzas, sandwiches and small plates. The brewery side specializes in West Coast-style IPAs, including the 8.5 percent ABV Loaded Smile double IPA.
Address: 249 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta
Wrecking Bar Brewpub sits on the bottom floor of the circa-1901 Victorian-style Victor H. Kriegshaber House, beneath a large event space and biergarten. The Wrecking Bar Burger is famed in the Atlanta burger scene, best served alongside the 4.8 percent ABV Breaking Bob Kolsch.
Address: 292 Moreland Ave NE, Atlanta