Variety is the key to success at Decatur brewpub Twain’s

The bar at Twain’s Brewpub in Decatur showcases a wide variety of beer styles.
(Bob Townsend for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

The bar at Twain’s Brewpub in Decatur showcases a wide variety of beer styles. (Bob Townsend for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Twain’s opened in Decatur in 1996 as a bar and pool hall and transitioned to a brewpub in 2006, soon after the beer laws changed in Georgia.

Since then, it has become a beloved destination for food and drink, with a scratch kitchen and a legacy of house-made beer.

On a recent visit, I talked with Mike Castagno, who became head brewer in late 2016.

“I started home brewing in 2005,” Castagno said. “I graduated college, got a job with DuPont, and with my first paycheck I bought a home-brew kit.”

He said he did a lot of work “on recipe development, style-specific brewing, and competition, where you have to fit a very narrow window of what that style is,” and that gave him “the foundation for understanding the parameters of brewing.”

Castagno said he spent his first two years at Twain’s perfecting the brewing procedures.

“Then, when I felt really comfortable that our procedures were tight, we changed the brewing system,” he said, laughing. “But it took a lot less time to get it down, and the world that it opened up was really exciting.

“We were able to use some of the more modern techniques with IPAs, and brew lagers and ferment them correctly. We took it up several notches with sourcing better hops, and better techniques with dry hopping.”

As someone who isn’t crazy about hazy IPAs, I was happy with Castagno’s wide-ranging take on the style.

Mike Castagno in the barrel room at Twain’s Brewpub in Decatur.
(Bob Townsend for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Bob Townsend

icon to expand image

Credit: Bob Townsend

“If we’re going to have multiple hoppy beers on our menu, they’re going to be wildly different from each other,” he said. “So, we might have a hazy IPA, a cold IPA, a West Coast IPA and a red IPA.”

Over the years, Castagno also has explored mixed-culture and barrel-aged beers that he keeps in a room away from the brewhouse.

Asked for his take on the current beer scene, Castagno noted that “there was a time that just being a brewery meant you were going to be successful and profitable, but as the market started getting more and more saturated, it became much more difficult.”

“Twain’s is very lucky to be in a neighborhood that has a lot of foot traffic,” he said. “We’re also fortunate to have multiple revenue streams. We have a fantastic kitchen, with everything made from scratch, along with a bar menu with cocktails and wine. And you can play pool and darts with your friends.”

Among the beers I sipped during my visit to Twain’s, here are four to try right now:

Germantown pilsner is a crisp, refreshing spring-to-summer lager, made with malts and hersbrucker hops from Dietz farms in Germany.

Push Back pils is a smooth, dry-hopped New Zealand pilsner, made with Czech malts and New Zealand Pacific jade and Pacifica hops.

Fall From Grace is a creamy, roasty, quaffable nitro Irish dry stout developed by Twain’s assistant brewer, Sam Barlow.

And for sour lovers, Stupid Sexy Flanders is a 2020-vintage mixed fermentation Flanders red that was aged in a pinot noir barrel for four years.

Twain’s Brewpub & Billiards. 211 E. Trinity Place, Decatur. 404-373-0063,

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