Thursday, December 11, 2008

Beering in Atlanta: Taco Mac

Back at the Mac here in the ATL. I got a few of my friends from undergrad and grad school together to enjoy some brews with the Brotha. No better place to hang out and watch the Panthers game than Taco Mac. The place we not too packed, and the waitress knew her beer. Only problem is, I ordered the tacos. How is it that the tacos at TACO Mac suck so much? Their paraphanelia and whatnot suggest that they are all about Buffalo Wings, but why did the tacos have to taste like Taco Bell? I wouldn't be surprised if the girl took my order, walked out the back door, ran by the drive through at Taco Bell, and brought it back on my plate. Damn shame.
Anyway, the restaurant and bar has lots of open space, conducive for large groups. You have to love what has to be 2 dozen big screen HD TVs. They even have about 5 TVs facing the window, so I guess the folks walking by on Peachtree St can check the score of the Thrashers game. There are no bad angles for watching any game. The menu is pretty simple barfood and features its buffalo wings. Unlike other wing joints, these wings don't come in 30 different sauces. There are just 5 levels of HOT. Last time I got the sauce called "Death" and had to chug down some IPAs just to keep up. But with my tacos this time I decided to make a run on their local and winter beers. On to the beer...

Red Brick Ale
Started out with this one on the full 16 oz from the Atlanta Brewing Company. It has a nice amber color but not much of a head. The smell and taste is malty and toasty, with a nice hop balance. This one goes down great as an ale and has a nice touch of syrup and medium bread. Nothing to knock you out of your seat and I imagine that is by design. 3 Stars.

My homegirl from grad school showed up first, and I ordered her a Sweetwater Blue. Got myself a couple of sips as well.

Straw colored with a low white head. It has nice not too powerful blueberry nose. The taste is basically a light blueberry and makes for a very drinkable blonde ale. Just plain nice fruit beer. I can see the Sweetwater boys did not go overboard with the blueberry like others have done with other blond fruit beers. 3 Stars.

At this point more of the crew is showing up and it is time to revive the Winter/Christmas beer tastings. I'll go outside the state for the first one...

Can certainly appreciate the spelling. Amber colored with a smell of sugar, malt and alcohol. The taste reminds me of saaz hops (that piney citrus hop) with some malt. This one is very smooth and I can tell that even in a 2 oz sampler. I gets high on ya love. High 3 Star.

Sweetwater Festive
Back to the local boys with this sampler of their winter beer. Dark brown and opaque. Roast and toffee smell. This thing has a high brown sugar thing going on at first. Then it hit me, this tastes like Absinthe. Someone break out the Anne Rice novels and Italian style New Orleans paste. The malt is strong in this one and I will rate it a high 3 star for now. I got another bottle of this one that I will smuggle into Texas, so I may have to review it again.

What's the good word? To Hell with Georgia! Of course that's the University (sic) of Georgia to be precise. But they do have a good brewery in Athens, GA, and this is their winter seasonal. Ruby color. Very nice look. Smells of moderate hops and strong malt. The taste is also a moderately hopped caramelly beverage, with a residual MALT on the aftertaste. I like the way they put this one together in that the malt is the aftertaste. It should do really well in Georgia, where it seems I cannot find a truly hoppy beer. But this is an excellent winter beer interpretation with the hops they added, I'm thinking Centennial. Maybe it's because I have nightmares of the unnatural ass whoopin I got at grad school in Georgia Tech every time I visit Atlanta, but I'm giving 4 Stars for the Dawgs.

At this point in the night my notebook notes were getting pretty scratchy and all the women started looking really good. This Lefthander Wowed me with the cinnamon and nutmeg. I actually wrote down in my book "Ho Ho Ho Motherf8cker". Malty beverage. Oh yeah, the color is black with a white head. Did not get a rating written down. Certainly a wow beer as this hits you hard with the sweet spice flavor, even after I had all those winter beers already.

I can certainly say I've got some strong candidates for top winter and Christmas beers out of this trip to the ATL. Kind of surprising as I figured the warm weather beers (wheat beers and ambers) would be their better ones. I've got reviews for Park Tavern and Five Seasons coming up. The night at Taco Mac was excellent as usual, and I may slide by there again as I joined their beer passport club. I officially had 6 beers, the samplers count, so all I need are 7 more and I get a T-shirt or something. I think I ordered the shirt size as "extra medium". As long as they don't try to push anymore tacos on me it should be straight.

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