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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sweet Sweetwater

It could be called a meat market; a gathering of Atlanta’s who’s who; a neighborhood bar – the one where everyone knows your name; a place to pregame; a perfect place for a blind date, first date or any date; guys’ night out; girls’ night out; an educational experience; somewhere to drown out your latest sorrows or wash away a tough week at work; laugh; cry; or just have a damn good time with friends.

Atlanta’s Sweetwater Brewing Co.,, is all those things and more on Friday evenings when the working brewery opens its doors to the public from 5:30 to 7:30 and, for a measly 8 bucks, patrons can sample six half pints, all in a keepsake pint glass, while listening to live music in a crowd of a couple hundred of your closest friends and strangers.

Sweetwater is located in an industrial neighborhood on the north side of Downtown off Interstate 85. It’s a good spot for the 9 to 5 crowd heading home or preparing for a night out on the town. Want to learn how the place brews its 49,000 barrels a year? Tours are offered throughout the week and during happy hour. About the only downside to the location is it’s not near a MARTA line so if you plan to get tipsy you better call a cab. Otherwise, it’s a quick drive to anywhere in Downtown, Midtown and even Buckhead.

I love the idea of tasting fresh, local beer among a local crowd. I love the idea of hearing a local band playing outside where I can choose to hang out on the patio. The patio, by the way, is very dog-friendly with water bowls scattered around to help man’s best friend out during the hot Atlanta evenings.

Speaking of the heat, if you visit during the summer months – or winter for that matter – and want to head inside, there is a large room with an L-shaped bar and spacious – and clean – restrooms. There’s also an outdoor bar.

The negatives to this place? Well, I can only think of one, and that’s if you’re bothered by crowds. When I went on a pleasant fall evening it took about 20 minutes to move through the line to enter. The lines can build at the bars, but it never takes more than a minute or two to get a refill.

If you find yourself in Atlanta on a Friday evening, I can think of nothing better to do than support a local brewery.

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