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Tis' the season for brewing


With the last of the Oktoberfests being drained from the tanks, local brewpubs are starting to roll out some winter ales, stouts, and holiday specials. I love this time of year.

Crawford Moran at 5 Seasons Alpharetta has brewed up a batch of his Cloud Nine Barleywine, which is on tap now. The Great Pumpkin Ale will also be on tap for another 3 or 4 weeks. Moran has also just finished brewing a reprisal of the Decadent Ale from his Dogwood Brewing Company days. This American brown ale is potent, but would not be categorized as an imperial style. Made with 10 different malts and 10 different hops (hence the name), it does have a complex malt character as well as a solid hop backing. I remember it fondly and thought that I would never see it again. Nothing like Christmas to bring old friends back together. Moran has also been cellaring some of his recent brews to bring out in January for the brewpub’s 1st anniversary.

Over at 5 Seasons Prado, brewer Glen Sprouse has the Blackbird Porter and Glenkevin “Wee Heavy” Scotch Ale on tap for the next few weeks. It’s good to see these two classic British styles available again. No one in the city brews to style better than Sprouse. As he has since the Phoenix Brewing Company days, Sprouse will have the Belgian Abbey-style Delirium Dubbel on hand for the holiday season, along with the Blackfriars Barleywine, a 12% ABV vinous concoction that has been aging for a full year. The Prado is also having a Brewmaster’s Dinner on Wed., Nov. 28 that will feature a bottle-conditioned West Mall Tripel and the Scotch Ale aged in a Woodford Reserve whiskey barrel. More details on the Brewmaster’s Dinner are available on the 5 Season’s website.

Twain’s in Decatur has its Hell for Society Stout back on draft, and if you hurry, you might get some of the whiskey barrel-aged coffee stout that was casked for the recent beer dinner. Rich and creamy, it is an after dinner treat nonpareil. Also featured at the beer dinner and still on tap is the Savannah Bee Porter, a collaboration between Twain’s brewer Jordan Fleetwood and Spike Buckowski at Terrapin Beer Company in Athens. Honey from Savannah Bee Company gives this nearly black ale a sweetness on the tip of the tongue. A mild coffee and cocoa roastiness follows, building slowly, before finishing with a tangy, fruity hop bitterness that lingers lovingly. There are notes of sweet chocolate, raisins, pipe tobacco, and malted milk in there, too. Smooth and creamy, but not heavy or sticky, this is the best beer I have had at Twain’s. Hopefully it will become a regular feature. Twain’s also has its Gingerbread Pale Ale from last year back on tap. To me, this one smells better than it tastes, with the cinnamon overwhelming the ginger, and not enough cookie-like malt sweetness to hold up the gingerbread illusion. It’s worth a try if you are fond of cinnamon, though. Fleetwood also has a couple of as-yet-undefined high gravity beers planned for the next couple of months. Check back frequently.

At Max Lager’s downtown, the current seasonal offering is the American Brown Ale. Brewer John Roberts expects to have the excellent Old 320 Barleywine and Max Abbey Dubbel online by mid December. His Scotch Ale is scheduled for January.

Beer and Food Department: The 5th Earl Market in Decatur is hosting a beer dinner on Monday, Nov. 20 featuring five beers from Colorado’s Left Hand Brewing Company paired with preparations from Executive Chef Carmen Cappello of JCL Culinary. The menu includes oven-roasted salmon, glazed pork belly, and coffee and caramel cheesecake with Blackjack Porter ice cream, served with a glass of the porter. Also on the beer menu are the Jackman’s Pale Ale, Sawtooth Amber Ale, Milk Stout, and Left Hand’s winter seasonal, Snowbound Ale, a spiced strong ale. The event takes place at 7 p.m., and the cost is $55 per person. Call the restaurant at 404-377-5477, or email for reservations.

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