Beer connoisseurs flock to Atlanta’s Upper Westside

Dr. Scofflaw’s Laboratory and Beer Garden at The Works on the Upper Westside of Atlanta one of 10 breweries that make up the Westside Ale Trail, a self-guided brewery tour expected to launch later this summer. Courtesy of Ryan Fleisher

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Dr. Scofflaw’s Laboratory and Beer Garden at The Works on the Upper Westside of Atlanta one of 10 breweries that make up the Westside Ale Trail, a self-guided brewery tour expected to launch later this summer. Courtesy of Ryan Fleisher

Ale Trail will promote neighborhood’s 9 breweries and cidery.

The Works, an 80-acre, adaptive mixed-use development on Chattahoochee Avenue in Atlanta’s Upper Westside, has become a lively, often crowded mecca for everything from shopping and dining to axe throwing, thanks in part to the lively scene at Dr. Scofflaw’s Laboratory and Beer Garden.

On any given weekend, and many weekdays, you’ll find throngs of happy beer lovers hanging out, playing parking lot cornhole, listening to live music and grabbing a bite from an assortment of food trucks.

Along with that, the neighborhood is home to eight other craft breweries and a cidery. That concentration of taprooms within a few square miles not only makes it a unique section of the city, it makes it worthy of an extended brewery-hopping visit.

Before Elliott Hall opened Fire Maker Brewing on Chattahoochee Avenue, he’d already thought about how the area could become a special beer destination.

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Fire Maker Brewery is a 20-barrel brewhouse, with a 2.5-barrel pilot system, featuring a cozy taproom, a covered patio and a beer garden. Courtesy of Ryan Fleisher

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Fire Maker Brewery is a 20-barrel brewhouse, with a 2.5-barrel pilot system, featuring a cozy taproom, a covered patio and a beer garden.
Courtesy of Ryan Fleisher

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Combined ShapeCaption
Fire Maker Brewery is a 20-barrel brewhouse, with a 2.5-barrel pilot system, featuring a cozy taproom, a covered patio and a beer garden. Courtesy of Ryan Fleisher

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

“Years ago, when we first got the building that would be Fire Maker, I’d been going to a lot of the nearby breweries,” Hall said. “Luckily, I already knew a lot of those people, so I started reaching out to them. We did some preliminary planning to call it the Westside Beer District and thought about doing a Westside beer trail.”

As it turned out, Adeline Collot, director of the Planning and Capital Projects program of the Upper Westside Community Improvement District (CID), had the same idea.

The CID dubbed it the Upper Westside Ale Trail, and created a brewery tour with a map, and a passport book that could be stamped for a free beer at each location.

In April, the first ticketed Ale Trail Brewery Tour of the Upper Westside kicked off with the Atlanta Beer Bus making stops at Atlanta Brewing, Bold Monk, Dr. Scofflaw’s, Fire Maker, Monday Night, Round Trip, Scofflaw, Second Self, Steady Hand and Urban Tree Cidery.

“That went really well ... and now we are thinking of something longterm, with a passport you can use anytime,” Hall said.

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Combined ShapeCaption
Bold Monk brewery is a two-story space featuring an exhibition kitchen, multiple bars, indoor and outdoor dining areas and a vaulted Library Loft with a retail bookstore. Courtesy of Ryan Fleisher

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Bold Monk brewery is a two-story space featuring an exhibition kitchen, multiple bars, indoor and outdoor dining areas and a vaulted Library Loft with a retail bookstore.
Courtesy of Ryan Fleisher

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Combined ShapeCaption
Bold Monk brewery is a two-story space featuring an exhibition kitchen, multiple bars, indoor and outdoor dining areas and a vaulted Library Loft with a retail bookstore. Courtesy of Ryan Fleisher

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Later this summer, you’ll be able to grab a passport at Adelina Social Goods at the Works and do your own self-guided beer tour. From the perspective of the CID, the Ale Trail is an important way to connect other parts of the Upper Westside.

“The CID is focused on things like infrastructure and green space and public art, but we have not quite moved into events, so this is like dipping our toe in the water,” Collot said. “What we realized from all the public engagement in our district was there was a very clear call for a trail connection.”

The good news is, beer aficionados don’t have to wait for the passport program to launch; they can take an ale trail tour of their own whenever they like.

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Travis Herman at Dr. Scofflaw’s Laboratory and Beer Garde, one of the anchors at The Works, the 80-acre Selig development along Chattahoochee Avenue. Ryan Fleisher for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Travis Herman at Dr. Scofflaw’s Laboratory and Beer Garde, one of the anchors at The Works, the 80-acre Selig development along Chattahoochee Avenue. Ryan Fleisher for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Combined ShapeCaption
Travis Herman at Dr. Scofflaw’s Laboratory and Beer Garde, one of the anchors at The Works, the 80-acre Selig development along Chattahoochee Avenue. Ryan Fleisher for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

A good place to start is Dr. Scofflaw’s Laboratory and Beer Garden, one of the anchors at the Works. Scofflaw Brewing co-founder and chief brewing officer Travis Herman uses the 9,000-square-foot-plus, indoor-outdoor space to develop new beers. But the taproom stays swamped with visitors, from the bar out to the surrounding sidewalks.

“We opened on Halloween 2020 and we’re coming up on our second anniversary,” he said. “As things like Fox Bros. have opened up near us, it’s brought tons of people who might not have gone to a brewery. You can come by here, go get some food, play at the park and also grab a beer.”

One thing that differentiates Dr. Scofflaw’s from the nearby Scofflaw production brewery and taproom, is what visitors are drinking.

“We’ve always been a heavier brewery historically, with Basement IPA being a 7.5% IPA,” Herman said. “But we’ve been doing lighter beers, like Basement Light, and our Scofflaw Lager. That one seems to keep people coming (to Dr. Scofflaw’s), because it’s only 4%.”

Despite the competition, Herman is impressed by the number of breweries up and running around the Ale Trail, as well as the diversity of beer styles represented in such a compact area.

“You’ve got Round Trip doing German-style lagers, all the way to Second Self doing culinary-style stuff,” he said.

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Bold Monk Beers The Way (from left), Chant Lager and Shared Spirit IPA. Courtesy of Ryan Fleisher

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Bold Monk Beers The Way (from left), Chant Lager and Shared Spirit IPA.
Courtesy of Ryan Fleisher

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Combined ShapeCaption
Bold Monk Beers The Way (from left), Chant Lager and Shared Spirit IPA. Courtesy of Ryan Fleisher

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Without a doubt, the most ambitious Upper Westside buildout is Bold Monk. The multi-level Old World-inspired brewery restaurant from the Brewed to Serve Restaurant Group (Max Lager’s; White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails) cost close to $6 million.

Brewmaster and managing partner John “J.R.” Roberts notes that the area increasingly has become a symbiotic drinking and dining destination.

“We see it all time,” he said. “People come to Bold Monk for food and beer, and then they’ll venture out to the other breweries. Or they’ll come in from the other breweries and get a meal here. We’re all friendly with everybody that’s over here, and it’s just a great set-up.”

Looking to the future, Roberts sees the Ale Trail as an integral part of the Upper Westside scene.

“I think we’ll end up doing some bus tours on Saturdays,” he said. “People can bring their passports and get a free sample of whatever the brewery offers. Business has come back full-force now, and we hope it stays that way.”


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Credit: Mark Freistedt/For the AJC

Credit: Mark Freistedt/For the AJC

Ale Trail destinations

Atlanta Brewing

Established in 1993 and known as Georgia’s oldest craft brewery, Atlanta Brewing has had an interesting, and sometimes puzzling history, including sometimes being known as Red Brick Brewing. But it still displays a wall of awards and offers a full range of beers in the taproom. The brewery recently announced that it will be moving to a new location. The final day of service at the Defoor Hills Road address is July 3.

Try Hartsfield IPA: Described as a “contemporary IPA,” it’s crisp, clean and aromatic, with notes of lemon, lime and passion fruit, and a soft bitterness at the back of the palate.

2323 Defoor Hills Road NW, Atlanta. 404-355-5289; atlantabrewing.com.

Bold Monk

A jewel of the Upper Westside Ale Trail, Bold Monk offers sophisticated food and drink with views of the 15-barrel brewhouse. The two-story space features an exhibition kitchen, multiple bars, indoor and outdoor dining areas and a vaulted Library Loft with a retail bookstore.

Try Walk On Water Witbier: This 2020 U.S. Open Silver Medal award-winning Belgian-style wheat beer is brewed with a soft, fruity blend of lemon, orange peel and coriander.

1737 Ellsworth Industrial Blvd. N, Atlanta. 404-390-3288; boldmonkbrewingco.com.

Dr. Scofflaw’s

A spin-off of Scofflaw Brewing, Dr. Scofflaw’s brewery and taproom serves as a research and development facility. The concept features a mad scientist theme, and visitors can taste-test a host of new and experimental beers, as well as draft cocktails, seltzers and slushies.

Try Basement Light IPA: At just 4% alcohol, it’s the mini me of Scofflaw’s flagship beer. At 120 calories, it features Cascade, Chinook and Citra hops, with a bit of the dank, juicy and hazy.

214 Chattahoochee Row NW, Atlanta. 404-254-3846; scofflawbeer.com/tap-room/dr-scofflaw.

Fire Maker

With a 20-barrel brewhouse, plus a 2.5-barrel pilot system, Fire Maker has been steadily growing and increasing distribution. In addition to the cozy taproom and bar rail, the space features a covered patio and “beer walk,” private event areas and a beer garden in back.

Try Perfect Match IPA: It’s a bright, citrusy beer combing the best of West Coast and East Coast IPAs. The hop bill includes Lotus, known for its “orange creamsicle” character.

975 Chattahoochee Ave. NW, Atlanta. 678-705-8777; firemakerbeer.com.

Monday Night

Last summer, Monday Night celebrated its 10th anniversary. Over those years the company has grown into one of the premier breweries in Atlanta, winning a slew of medals while expanding to a location in West End and opening taprooms in Birmingham, Alabama, and Nashville, Tennessee.

Try Blind Pirate Blood Orange IPA: Among the best-selling flagships, it recently has been updated, again, this time with Cryo Hops. But it’s still juicy and spiked with blood oranges.

670 Trabert Ave. NW, Atlanta. 404-352-7703; mondaynightbrewing.com.

Round Trip

Located in a 26,000-square-foot former chemical plant, Round Trip marks a return to Atlanta for award-winning brewer Craig Mycoskie. There’s an inviting taproom with an L-shaped bar, a large private event space and a sprawling patio out front, with an area for food trucks.

Try Straight Outta Munich Export Helles: It features German Noble hops and lightly kilned Pilsner malt, making it both flavorful and utterly refreshing, from the first to the last sip.

1279 Seaboard Industrial Blvd. NW, Atlanta. 404-963-1252; roundtripbrewing.com.

Second Self

Best known as a brewery with a distinctive culinary bent, Second Self has become a “beverage incubator” with diverse forays into cider, wine and CBD. But beer remains a mainstay, with regular and limited releases, and public and private events and parties in the taproom.

Try Thai Wheat: The company’s flagship 5% alcohol American wheat beer is brewed with fresh lemongrass, ginger and galangal. It’s dry, spicy and refreshing, and maybe even good for you.

1317 Logan Circle NW, Atlanta. 678-916-8035; secondselfbeer.com.

Scofflaw Brewing

Sometimes controversial, Scofflaw Brewing burst on the scene with its wildly popular debut beer, Basement IPA, and hasn’t looked back. The company continues to produce what it calls “big, bold and full of flavor” beers, advertised with an attitude.

Try Double Jeopardy IPA: This juicy, bittersweet West Coast-style double IPA with tropical hop notes is big in every way, including clocking in at 10% alcohol.

1738 McArthur Blvd. NW, Atlanta. 404-343-2832; scofflawbeer.com.

Steady Hand

Call it industrial chic-meets-Colorado Deadhead, the Steady Hand taproom features a sprawling bar, plus areas for live music, games and private events. The 30-barrel brewhouse offers plenty of room for growth and a portfolio of imaginative beers.

Try Sweet Potato Farmhouse Ale: Somewhere between a Belgian saison and a French biere de garde, this unfiltered, traditional-meets-contemporary beer is a rustic take on the style.

1611 Ellsworth Industrial Blvd. NW, Atlanta. 404-458-5981; steadyhandbeer.com.

Urban Tree Cidery

The Beer Judge Certification Program offers Cider Style Guidelines as part of its judge training and sanctioned competitions. And as Atlanta’s first craft cider maker, Urban Tree fits in well with the Ale Trail, offering an alternative for both non-beer drinkers and the gluten-free.

Try Orange U an IPA?: Made with orange peel, coriander and Citra hops, Urban Tree dares to “make you think twice about this cider.” Beer drinkers will likely enjoy this gold medal winner.

1465 Howell Mill Road NW, Atlanta. 404-855-5546; urbantreecidery.com.

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