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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Weekend Watering Hole: 5 Seasons Brewing Co., Atlanta, Ga.

As a regular weekend feature, Lyke2Drink will visit some of the world's great watering holes. This week we head to Atlanta to visit a brewpub that combines great beer and fine food.

5 Seasons Brewing Co.
5600 Roswell Road (The Prado)
Sandy Springs, Ga. 30342

Frequent visitors of Lyke2Drink will recall my recent frustration with brewpubs that fail to deliver a quality experience. (If you missed it, check out my comments about a visit to Jacksonville's River City Brewing.) Consider me a tough customer: I actually expect good beer, friendly service and decent food when I make a trip to a brewpub and plunk down my money. It also helps if you have a staff that appears to actually enjoy their jobs and know a little bit about the beer and food they are serving. I'm passionate about beer and food. If you run a brewpub, I think you should be, too.

This past week I was in Atlanta on business and an old friend, Richard Skiermont, and I decided to have dinner. I had very little time to do any research, but found that 5 Seasons Brewing was not far from where I was staying and the reviews from a couple people that knew the place were good. We decided to give it a shot. 5 Seasons reaffirmed my belief that you can run an outstanding brewpub.

5 Seasons has two locations in the Atlanta area. We hit the Sandy Springs restaurant; there is also one in Alpharetta.

We started out in the bar and decided to have the sampler, which consists of five of the six beers they had on tap -- everything but the Barleywine (I had a glass of that brew as a nightcap). Each of the beers was clean and crisp. Each was a very nice representation of the beer style. I'm normally a fan of heavier beers and hoppy brews, but I found the clean and crisp Munich Helles to be a very refreshing lager. The Seven Sisters Munchner, named in honor of the seven breweries that host Oktoberfest in Munich, was nicely malty and ended up being the brew I decided to order with dinner.

The other beers on the sampler were also enjoyable. The Spiny Norman, an American style IPA, is dry hopped with Cascade and Columbus. It had a nice hop aroma and a great fresh hop flavor. Big Horn Bock was perfectly balanced with firm malt tones and some good hop bitterness, while the Big O, an organic English strong ale weighing in at 6.8 percent alcohol by volume, was a nice dark color and had the kind of up front hop tones you would expect.

Before leaving the bar we had the chance to meet Dennis Lange, one of the founding partners behind 5 Seasons. He certainly has a passion for the brewpub. During our chat he brought out a bottled conditioned Belgiam-style brew to share with us, a couple of regulars and one of the bartenders. The beer had been brewed eight months ago. It had a wonderful fruity tone that was a real treat.

The dinner menu at 5 Seasons has Japanese influences because of Lange's background. He ran the very successful Yakitori Den-Chan in Atlanta before starting 5 Seasons. We started with the fried blue crab fingers and split a pair of entrees: a Kobe hanging tender, that was finished with baby shiitake mushrooms and onions, and a pork chop, that came with cheddar grit cakes, braised greens and caramelized apples. We also enjoyed a loaf of spent brewer's grain bread. The food quality was excellent. The service had a momentary gap, but the waiter alerted us that he had an issue to deal with and apologized when he came back.

My faith restored in brewpubs, I'm ready for my next visit to 5 Seasons or whatever I find in my travels.

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