When I travel, as infrequent as that is, I try to sample the local breweries. Last fall I visited Athens Georgia to give a talk and was able to try some offerings from two breweries Terrepin and Sweetwater.
I arrived in Athens the afternoon before my seminar and meetings and was left to my own devices. First of all, Athens is a kick-ass college town (at least the area adjacent to the college. I spent about an hour exploring, walking around trying to decide where I would get some dinner, etc. My hotel concierge suggested a nearby pizza place that once I saw, I decided there was no way in hell I would go there. I wanted a pub type place with a good beer list, some decent food, and a little attitude.
I found numerous dive bars, a few upscale places, and a bunch of places I couldn't quite figure out. Probably some of khedive bars were what I wanted but without a guide it was impossible to know for sure and I didn't have the luxury to sample. Ultimately there was a way in hell and I went to the pizza place.
Before I get to that, I want to touch on the vast array of shops to explore. There are dozens and dozens of small places selling a diverse range of things amongst the plethora of bars and eating establishments. It's about 8 blocks of perfection. On one edge of this commercial paradise sits a police station and across the street is a headshop with dozens of pipes in the windows welcoming the officers to work each day.
Alright, so I ended up at the pizza joint. There were not that many people there, but it was still fairly loud inside. Not a bad thing, just a fact that it seemed to be a lively place to go. My waitress, a pleasant enough college student brought me a menu and asked if I wanted something to drink. I explained that I wanted something local and she told me that they had both Terrepin and SweetWater and listed several beers. At this point I realized that she was underaged, not a beer drinker, or not a quality beer drinker. I decided the best idea was to take a few minutes looking over the beer list.
When she returned I decided on the Terrepin Hopsecutioner (ABV 7.3% IBUs 71). Based on the name I was expecting a hoppy smack to the mouth, which did not come to pass. Overall it was quite good and notably smooth. A reasonable way to start a meal. After ordering some food I decided to try a Sweetwater. The place had two on tap, the SweetWater IPA and the 420. I told my waitress my preferences and asked which she would recommend. She had to run away and ask someone who actually had tried the beers. After a few minutes, she returned and tried to repeat the words she had just heard but likely did not understand. Short version: the 420 is better overall but the IPA had a stronger flavor. Since I was excepting a stronger flavor than I found in the Hopsecutioner, I went with the IPA.
The SweetWater IPA (ABV 6.7% IBUs 65) was excellent. This was more along the lines of what I expected with the Hopsecutioner. I great balance of bitter and fruity flavors. This was clearly my favorite of the trip (although I would happily have any of those I sampled again). Shortly after dropping off the IPA, my waitress came back and asked if I made the right choice. I expressed my lack of understanding regarding her question and she tried again asking whether I choose correctly between the IPA and 420.
This is what I call a teachable moment. I explained that while I enjoyed the IPA and thought it was a fine beer, I could not possibly answer the question until I tried the 420. (There are obvious philosophical problems with this approach as my preferences may not be identical when I finally try the 420, but it's the closest thing we have to an experiment.) I'm not sure my waitress really gave a crap about my exposition (actually I am sure and she didn't). Is this teaching critical thinking or is it just traumatizing a young woman with better things to do with her time?
So while finishing up a great oversized small salad and calzone, I tell my waitress that I would like to do the experiment. She returns shortly with a SweetWater 420 (ABV 5.4% IBUs 65). While it was recommended as the better of the two SweetWaters on tap, I liked the IPA more. Could have had more flavor on the front end but I did note a subtle kick on the backend.
Overall my choices are SweetWater IPA, Terrepin Hopsecutioner, followed by the SweetWater 420. All were good and readily drinkable.
22 hours ago in Variety of Life