I've been looking forward to June all year, and not just because I hate cold weather. I knew this year's June would be special (and a load of fun) because I decided back in the winter to book a special run of shows to wrap up the Spring Tour... and that would be spending June playing breweries in beach towns up the East Coast. I've been looking forward to it all year... and now here we are!
I also have amazing luck when I travel, in that usually great concerts by artists I love happen to cross paths with my own travel itineraries (just by dumb luck), and this time is no different. When this leg of the tour concludes in late June in Virginia, I'll be catching Dead & Company (surviving members of the Grateful Dead) in DC before heading home. On the front end of the tour, just a couple of weeks before it was to start, one of my favorite bands (Wilco) announced their first concerts in two years in a tiny theatre in Knoxville, which just happened to be right on my way, the night before my opening show in Atlanta. Thanks to the kindness of Bijou Theatre GM Tom Bugg's kindness, we got to see Wilco play their first show from the 8th row in this theatre that only holds less than 750! A great way to break up the first day's travels, met up with some friends in Knoxville, and then it was off to Atlanta the next day...
Tucker Brewing Company - Tucker, GA
Beers are available on tap, in cans, and growlers at the brewery, and distributed throughout much of Georgia. You can find them here here
I use “Atlanta” somewhat generically, as technically the venue was in Tucker, GA (essentially a suburb east of Atlanta proper). The brewery was fittingly named Tucker Brewing Company, and had just celebrated its first anniversary the previous weekend.
For a one year old brewery, the place is pretty huge, especially the beer garden, which has a huge number of picnic tables and a proper stage for live music. On this night the weather was muggy and threatening, with the skies looking like they could unleash a thunderstorm at any time, so I played in the taproom, which was nicely air conditioned and felt much better than the June Georgia humidity. There is also a patio out front, where food is provided via rotating food trucks.
Tucker is rather dedicated to brewing in the German tradition, so I started my drinking with Tucker's trademark Southern Heaven Hefeweizen (5%). A mainstay of German brewing styles originated in Bavaria, with a golden hue and fluffy head, medium bodied and a smooth drink with a wheaty and slight banana overtone. Hefeweizens have a particularly unique flavor that I've always had a hard time describing... it's a certain something that lays somewhere between banana and a spice I cannot quite put my finger on... somewhat vanilla, but not exactly vanilla. Anyway, as a result, people tend to either enjoy the style or be turned off by it. If you tend to like “wheats”/hefeweizens, this one is a fine option.
They also offered two variations on their flagship hefeweizen: a dunkle, and a peach infused brew. So I'm in Georgia... how could I not try the peach? In all honesty, peach is not one of my go-to fruits, so I was a bit skeptical, but I was told the peach was rather understated and to fear not. Taking this advice I jumped in with both feet and got a 20oz, and enjoyed it quite a bit. I did not really detect the peach in the aroma at all, and even in the flavor I had to search for it, which in my book was just fine... I'd much rather have an understated fruited beer than an obnoxiously fruity one. After a few sips I could detect very slight hints of the peach, but I think what it contributed most was a slight creaminess to the Hefeweizen's body. It was an enjoyable and refreshing drink, and I'd definitely drink it again. Chalk it up as another in the long list of beers that don't initially sound like my sort of thing on paper, but I end up liking quite a bit.
Next up was the Georgia Red Lager (4.8%), which as you might guess poured with a deep red color. Again consistent with the German tradition, the malt was perhaps a little more dominant than the hops, but there were still elements of citra present, more on the fruit side than pine, with hints of caramel and honey... more like a lager than an amber, albeit an unusual lager at that.
My final beer of the night was the Oatmeal Brown Ale (6%) which after a rather long day (I forgot to mention that the normally 4 hour drive from Knoxville to Atlanta was rainy, traffic riddled, and took all day... so I arrived at the brewery with no time to kill before playing) seemed like a great way to wrap things up. Thick and dark with a foamy rich head, this beer looked more like a heavy stout, but it drank crisp and smooth like a brown ale! A well balanced mixture of dark chocolate and roasted goodness, this was a delicious beer that could definitely be consumed in quantity. We all have those friends who for no good reason are terrified of really dark beers, and this is the type of beer I like to make them try. Those of us in know realize that dark does not automatically equate to “heavy” or extremely bold in flavor, and this is a great one to illustrate the point.
Tucker Brewing had a great setup and a fine selection of beers, offering something for everyone beer wise. They are also dog and kid friendly. The only downside of my experience on this night was that it was a pretty light crowd, probably somewhat due to the weather, perhaps also due to both NHL and NBA playoff games being on (to their credit, I think the taproom had two TVs... which in my book is a good thing... if you want 30 TVs go to a sports bar...). Regardless, the beer was definitely worth seeking out, and the staff and customers I spoke to were all very friendly.
I left the brewery and drove an hour towards the next destination: a Saturday night show in Charleston, SC. With all of Friday to kill, I explored the beaches (mostly Folly Island) in the Charleston area, and had a fantastic casual seafood dinner at a place called Bowens Island Restaurant, which I highly recommend if you like great seafood in a very casual beach environment.
Next stop, Charles Towne Fermentory in Charleston....