Thursday 8 June 2017

Atlanta again

Another fairly restless night. What’s wrong? I’m usually such a good sleeper.

Mike has given me a four pack of the beers from last night’s talk. After my bad experience with beer-soaked clothes on my last US trip, I’m a bit wary of having bottles in my checked-in bag. Especially corked and caged ones.

I drink the Cotbusser and Grodziskie. Seeing the level of carbonation in them, it’s a wise choice, I feel. Both are good beers. And, not being too strong, make the perfect breakfast.

Did I mention how good a brewer Mike is? Mild, AK, Burton – he can brew all the important styles well.

Mike is giving me a lift to the airport. He’s picking me up a couple of hours early so we can drop by Sierra Nevada. It’s right next to the airport, so why not?

The Sierra Nevada complex is enormous. After passing the ornate gates monogrammed “SN”, it’s a half mile or so to the brewery itself. Which is also pretty big. As is the parking lot. And the shiny copper kettles I can glimpse through the windows. They look about the same size as those in the old Heineken brewery in Amsterdam.

The tap room, obviously, is huge. And full. We find seats in one corner. A prime spot, next to the bogs. Unfortunately, the collaboration beer with Fullers, which was on cask, is all gone. Bit of a bummer that. I have an IPA of some sort instead.

We order food and chat. Neither of us get large meals. I have some delicious pork belly. Yummee! 

I finish with a Bigfoot. Which I’ve only ever had bottled until now.

Mike drops me at Asheville airport and we say our goodbyes. It’s been great spending time with Mike again. A talented brewers and all-round good bloke.

Being a tiny airport, the formalities take next to no time. But, being a tiny airport, there’s only one bar. And all the seats at it are occupied. I go to the gate instead and read Private Eye.

Bad weather in Atlanta means nothing is allowed to take off or land. Which delays my flight by 30 to 40 minutes. No biggie for me. I’ve nothing planned this evening. And no connecting flight. Unlike most of my fellow passengers, who are looking a little nervous.

They’re asking for bump volunteers again. Starting offer is 400 Delta dollars. When they raise it to $600, a woman close to me accepts. Her daughter is a bit miffed. “I’ll have to hang around at Atlanta airport waiting for your flight.”

It’s a bigger aircraft this time. Much larger overhead bins. Though me rucksack is much lighter since I got rid of most of the books it carried.

I’m staying at a different hotel from the one on my way in. Though it’s only about 50 metres away. The lifts are really weird. One set takes you up two floors. Then you have to walk around the corner to a second set that takes you to higher floors. A bit of a pain.

I mooch around my room for a while, watching some crap TV. And a little baseball.

There’s been a spectacular fight. Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland pinged the hip of National’s Bryce Hunter with a fastball. He saw it as deliberate, ran over to the mound and tried to whallop the pitcher. Neither looked a very accomplished fighter. Like two kangaroos boxing. It ended up with all the players from both sides piling in. There are endless replays from all possible angles.

My destination this evening is Max Lager's brewpub, just a couple of hundred yards down Peachtree. They claim it’s Georgia’s oldest brewpub. Who am I to doubt them?

Bit gloomy and not very full. Maybe everyone is upstairs where there are more draughts (but a smaller food offering). Me and yet another bar make acquaintance. Soon it gets pretty intimate. As intimate as a bar and a belly can be.

What should I drink? Not another IPA. I know – a Porter.

Three Threads Porter, 5.8% ABV
Oh no, that Three Threads shit again. Nice and dark. Decent coffee/cocoa flavour. OK.

The only other people at the bar are a couple speaking Polish and a man in his mid-50’s shovelling food down while going tippy-tap on his phone. He occasionally comes up for air and orders a beer. This is fun.

The Polish couple keep staring, not exactly at me, more around me. They seem fascinated by something behind me. Presumably fellow diners. I really don’t feel like turning around and looking. Partly from my English desire to avoid any possible embarrassment. Partly because I’m totally knacked and really can’t be arsed.

I can barely force myself to knock back the beer. But I do. And a not too inspiring hamburger.

Just the one beer. And the last two bottles from Mike back in my room. The strong two, October Beer and Arctic Ale. They soon sentence me to slumbering.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
100 Sierra Nevada Way,
NC 28732.

Max Lager's Wood-Fired Grill & Brewery
320 Peachtree St NE,
GA 30308.

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