Rick, a beer lover, had recently tried a new beer offering at his local beer store and out of curiosity, went to the internet for information about his new-found treasure. To his surprise, he found a wealth of information at a website promoting good craft beer and became a lurker of RateBeer.com in short time. Shortly thereafter he became a member and before long he was one of the regulars.
Noticing that they had planned a mid-summer gathering of some sort in Atlanta, Georgia, and that it was within a day’s drive, Rick decided to take the family and see what it was all about.
He had some vacation time coming and so he took off Friday, planning to make a three-day weekend of it. Before he left, he contacted a few of the locals to see if they were interested in meeting up Thursday evening. A few responded that they had to work Friday, but they’d love to meet up for a little while at Summits.
The family was hungry and, picking a good choice from all of the good ones nearby, they headed out to eat and make plans for Friday.
Over dinner, Rick’s wife noted that the Perimeter Mall, Lenox Mall and Cumberland mall were all within 10 minutes of their hotel and about the same distance was Whitewater Water Park, which was the unanimous choice by the kids. They also noted that the World of Coca-Cola, Underground Atlanta and Stone Mountain and its gardens were all nearby. Rick mentioned that he had seen a sign up list on the website for Saturday morning golf and tennis before the afternoon pub and brewery tour. Clearly they couldn’t do it all and would have to plan some more. Rick declared that all of the choices looked good.
After a good meal, the family headed back to their hotel to take an after dinner swim in the pool and watch a movie while Rick’s wife decided to try and work on finishing that book she had brought along. Rick headed across the street to Summits.
Rick met up with a few of the local members of RateBeer who were easily identified by their note pads next to their beers and he sat down and introduced himself. Rick was getting to know his new friends when the waitress asked him what he would like. Right away he knew there were more than the usual number of choices at this place. 90 beers were currently on tap, and 136 were on the current bottle list. He chose a local micro from Terrapin, which he hadn’t tried before and found it was a really well made brew.
But tomorrow was a workday for his friends and soon they all headed off in order to be rested for the activities scheduled to begin Friday afternoon at 5 Seasons
Owner Dennis Lange, Rick had been told by the locals, had been very supportive of the local craft beer scene and previously had opened up his establishment for the RateBeer Homebrew Competition held there the last two years. For Friday night, Dennis was having his staff prepare a fine buffet-style dinner out on the patio, which was conveniently off to the side of the main dining area. The group would be holding their tasting there after the dinner was finished. Despite his growing excitement, Rick was tired and headed to his hotel in anticipation of all the activities, which were now less than a day away.
Friday evening finally came and Rick walked the two blocks from his hotel to 5 Seasons. There were already quite a few gathering around and there was a buzz in the air. Apparently, the Georgia crew had done their homework, for the brewers at 5 Seasons had brewed two beers especially for the RateBeer Summer Gathering! Everyone was excited about this! The two special brews were every bit as good as the food, everybody agreed!
In time the food was cleared away and the serious part of the evening began. Grouped at the many tables, everybody was amazed at what had come out of the woodwork for this event. The Georgia crew had not forgotten their skills for obtaining rare beers, only two years ago they relied on their beer hunting and trading skills as the only way to sample the worlds fine beers. And their reputation as fine and friendly hosts had attracted folks from all the corners of the country. Afterall, Atlanta was within 15 hours of many major eastern and midwestern cities. There was a good crowd in attendance and they had assembled a fine line up for the tasting.
It was late when the last evidence of the tasting had been cleared away, and the tasters had headed off to their rooms for more tasting, to bed or parts unknown. Saturday was already here and activities were scheduled to begin again in just a few short hours.
Most of the out of town revelers slept in Saturday morning, but a few hardy souls met the shuttle that had been arranged to take them to the first RateBeer 9 hole Hair of the Dog Tourney. Well it was just two foursomes, but for a Saturday morning after a big tasting that wasn’t bad. And all eight of them were handicapped. Some people have two loves in life- good beer and a round of golf.
Rick slept in.
Later another shuttle took a group of the SO’s for a mall tour and shopping trip.
Finally another larger group began to assemble for the brewery and pub tour. Highlights of the tour were to be a visit to Sweetwater Brewing
Several other good stops were made after which the exhausted crew was ready to return to 5 Seasons for another bite to eat and one more glass of the RateBeer Special Brew. As folks from far and wide began to disperse, promises were made to meet again, trades were set up and e-mail addys and phone numbers were scribbled on bits of paper stuck into pockets everywhere. All agreed it was the best RateBeer Summer gathering ever.
I organized my first big gathering in 1985 for 250 people. Since that time, I have hosted several big weekend homebrew events at my farm, and helped to organize and carry out the 2005 & 2006 RateBeer Homebrew Competitions.
True, Atlanta had no great craft beer scene until recently, but as our recent little birthday gathering in Chattanooga (now famously known as ‘Noogfest) demonstrated, the Georgia Crew can successfully attract the good beers and great beer people from nearly anywhere in sufficient quantity. We feel we could have a great tasting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on an uncharted isle and there would be great beer there. Add to that the fact that the scene is changing rapidly as the brewers push the envelope of southern brewing.
As in all my projects, I work with all of my resources, most notably people. First we identify the needs we must meet and the tasks we must accomplish, and then identify who can work on each of those, using volunteers first and then soliciting help from others. Then each is assigned a job and is given whatever help they request to get the job accomplished.
Very few of the Georgia crew will not be doing some part in the undertaking though many of the tasks are small ones. We all share the burden and the pride in a job well done. We are fortunate to have Aracauna who has already done several bus pub tours, Goldtwins, kp, skaughty, beeryum, TheBeerCellar2, Cheri, BrewBandit, CaptainCougar and dahammer on the list of those who have already come forward asking to be part of this or that and are ones we can count on if our bid is successful.
There is not a single brewer or establishment owner in the area for which we do not have a personal contact through a member of the group.
Obviously, until dates are set and the members’ interests are polled, the actual activity schedule may change from the one I discussed in this proposal, but Dennis at 5 Seasons has been contacted about a tasting/lunch or dinner and they are in. The possibility of a special beer, too has been brought up and looks favorable if Atlanta is chosen. The Georgia Crew is prepared to oraganize and meet the needs of hosting this event. The Sandy Springs Area of Atlanta would be a fine choice for the RateBeer Summer Gathering in 2007.