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Take a beer tour to Roswell

Recent changes in state and local laws that relaxed the rules on taprooms and beer to go have created a brewery boom in Georgia and all around metro Atlanta.

No longer simply places that produce the “juice,” breweries are fostering community, becoming social hubs where people can gather to drink, watch sports, listen to music and play games.

With its Canton Street restaurant row and arts-and-antiques stores, Roswell has long been a destination for dining and shopping.

Lately, though, it hosts a growing number of beer tourists who flock to the taprooms at Gate City and Variant, two newish breweries that are adding another kind of energy.

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Sadly, a third brewery, Abbey of the Holy Goats, closed its taproom in March. Beer Street Journal later reported that its brewhouse had been listed for sale by founder Kathy Davis.

But beyond breweries, there are plenty of places in Roswell to grab a beer, including the new Loyal Tavern. Not far away on Holcomb Bridge Road, there’s the new From the Earth brewpub.

What’s more, the monthly Alive Roswell, sponsored by Gate City on the third Thursday of each month, brings thousands out to enjoy artisan markets, live music, beer, and food trucks. And patrons of bars and restaurants in the Canton Street district can carry open containers in public as they saunter from place to place.

Bartenders work the taps at Gate City Brewing in Roswell earlier this month. Its taproom offers as many as 20 beers on draft seven days a week. CONTRIBUTED BY JOHN AMIS (For the AJC)

Gate City Brewing

Situated in the heart of the Canton Street dining district, Gate City opened its temporary taproom in February 2016. But business partners Brian Borngesser and Pat Rains had bigger plans.

Nowadays, Gate City boasts a two-story historic space at the corner of Canton and Magnolia streets, with a 30-barrel brewhouse and a 3,000-square-foot taproom offering as many as 20 beers on draft seven days a week — plus 32-ounce crowlers and six-pack cans to go.

A patron carries out three beers for him and friends at Gate City Brewing, which has plenty of Roswell dining destinations nearby. CONTRIBUTED BY JOHN AMIS (For the AJC)

The scene: One recent Saturday afternoon, millennials packed the taproom with a milling singles scene sort of frenzy that crescendoed into a dull roar of music and conversation. At the bar, Awe Juice, a juicy-hoppy American IPA, seemed to be the big seller. Outside, the Carne 250 food cart served up Tex-Mex-style barbecue. 

Year-round beers: 1864 American IPA; Copperhead American Amber Ale; 20 Gram cream ale; Terminus Baltic Porter; OTP Double IPA.

Taproom hours: 3-10 p.m. Mondays-Tuesdays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays; 11 a.m.-midnight Fridays- Saturdays; 1-10 p.m. Sundays. 43 Magnolia St., Roswell. 678-404-0961, gatecitybrewingcompany.com.

Alec Wenzel (center) throws up his arms as he reacts while he and other Atlanta United fans watch a soccer game on TV at Variant Brewing on June 9. Both Variant and Gate City are breweries located in Roswell, making it a beer destination town. CONTRIBUTED BY JOHN AMIS (For the AJC)

Variant Brewing

On Norcross Street, a quick jaunt up or down the hill from a corner of Canton Street, Variant Brewery opened its taproom in November 2017, and quickly became the darling of beer drinkers thirsty for New England-style IPAs and fruited sours.

Founder and brewmaster Matt Curling calls Roswell his hometown and presides over a neat 3,700-square-foot freestanding brick building with a taproom in the front and a small-scale brewery in back. Find more than 15 beers on draft in half or full pours and crowlers to go, including “variants” of year-round beers dosed with likes of fruit and spices.

Bartender Jimmy Goen (right) pours beer from a tap at Variant Brewing in Roswell earlier this month. Variant has more than 15 beers on draft in half or full pours and crowlers to go. CONTRIBUTED BY JOHN AMIS (For the AJC)

The scene: The taproom often hosts sportscasts, including Atlanta United soccer games, and fans order up delivery pizza and burgers to go with the beer. Recently at the bar, the new rage brew was Splodey, a variant of the house gose with blueberries, strawberries and rhubarb. 

Year-round beers: Valerie Anne Saison; Seraphic Blonde Ale; Norcross St. American IPA.

Taproom hours: 2-9 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; 1-7 p.m. Sundays. 66 Norcross St., Roswell. 678-242-8189, variantbrewing.com.

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