Four years ago, you might not have thought East Atlanta's scrappy populace was desirous of a fancy-beer place in its hood, but the Midway Pub has proven sustainable by scratching several itches at once. Its vast array of televisions ensure the sports lover is satisfied; its beer list, with 32 taps and more than 100 bottles and cans, rivals most any ATL-area bar; it's a five-minute-or-less walk to three music venues; its dog-friendly patio is arguably Atlanta's best and a summertime necessity; and its menu is ideal for afternoon/late-night snacking — tater tots, pretzels, a ridiculous grit cake barbecue stack — but features some more substantial fare as well, including Southern fried chicken and the unmatched Sandtown Trail Burger.
Co-owners Jonathan McIntyre and Carsten Green recently took a moment to chat with Creative Loafing about some of their favorite brews, Atlanta's ever-changing beer scene, and how they plan to continue their success in the years ahead.
Describe your first beer experience.
Carsten Green: I've always liked beer, going back to when I was very young, when my dad would let me take the occasional swig of his Old Milwaukee. My first real drinking experience involved lots of Budweiser in a barn, watching the Iron Bowl with my cousins around age 15.
Jonathan McIntyre: If this counts, I was 9 or 10 years old, riding around town with a friend and our fathers. Our fathers went into a store, but before they did, they told us not to touch their beers — which, of course, is exactly what we did as soon as they went into the store. We loved it.
What is your favorite beer style, and why? An ideal pairing for that style?
Green: This is tough, but if I had to pick just one, I would say a really well-made pilsner. It's such a versatile beer style that goes with so many activities and foods. For my perfect pairing, I go to my Danish roots with a Danish koldt bord, which is a type of smorgasbord, and a shot of Akvavit after a round of golf.
McIntyre: I know it may sound lame, but I really enjoy every beer style. It's just like music, film, or food — there is so much variety that there ends up being a time and place for every one. I do find myself, though, enjoying a nice stout with a whisky every now and then.
When it's time for a beer run, where do you go?
When you opened Midway, what were you hoping to accomplish? Four years later, do you feel you've done it?
Green: We wanted to open a casual neighborhood bar with a solid beer list and the best bar-slash-comfort food we could make. Chef Travis [McClellan] has done an awesome job with the menu, and I think our 32 taps and 100-plus bottles/cans represent craft beer quite nicely. I think we've been successful not because of any one thing Jonathan or I have done, but because of the amazing people we work with every day and the fantastic neighborhood we're fortunate enough to be a part of.
As Atlanta's beer scene becomes increasingly active and competitive, with new bars and breweries opening up on the regular, how do you plan to keep Midway relevant?
Green: By investing in our employees and our neighborhood. It's the people you work and socialize with that makes a business successful and life rewarding.