Grumpy Old Men Brewing

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Gate City Brewing recently opened in Roswell.  I’ll get there, sooner or later.  It’s local, convenient.  But tell me there’s a brewery named “Grumpy Old Men” an hour and a half away in the tiny mountain town of Blue Ridge, GA, and my priorities rearrange.

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We stopped in a Sue’s “Best Burgers in Town” Cafeteria for a solid foundation prior to the afternoon’s libations. These were actually very good, but we learned later that their claim depends on who you ask.  I’d say they have the town’s most expensive burgers, at least.  In any case, we soon drove a whole mile to get to our final destination.  I have said in my past blogs that I favor the reclamation of old buildings by the emerging craft brewer industries – old buildings with a new lease on life, historied architecture providing unique character to the experience, that kind of thing.  Blue Ridge has some of those types of buildings.  Maybe they’re all occupied.  In any case, the grumpy old men chose a presumably very affordable defunct garage.

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But, that’s okay.  Because you’re in the mountains.  The air is fresh.  The traffic is light.  And it’s no so difficult to convert a metal building to grandpa’s cabin.  Kind of.

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If the front porch had a row of Cracker Barrel rocking chairs… well, in any case, a quick comparison shows that while styled similarly, grumpy old men build a far better bathroom than Sue’s burgers.  There is other “guy humor” around the place, but this one shone brightly.

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Grumpy Old Men (GOM) brew twice a week, and they’re open Thursday-Saturday in the afternoons.  I get the feeling that it’s kind of like a kid’s treehouse.  The kids are happy to go there, and the mom is happy to have them out of the house.   So, maybe they’re grumpy for being booted from the house.  In any case, they’re facing growth, the kind of thing that happens when you make a good beer, outgrow your garage and decide to accept people’s money for it. 

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You buy your souvenir glass (from $10 to $15 depending on favored styling), then choose from the board.    I tried, the Honeybear IPA, Hells’ Holler Porter, Aska Pale Ale, Devil’s Den, Grasshoppa IPA, and the Big Booty Black IPA.  I’d say that to my tastes the Grasshoppa was my favorite, but the rest were really good.  Pale Ale’s don’t usually muster much of a reaction from me, but Aska had a little more flavor than I find in most.  The Black IPA had a nice blend of roast and hops, as the Red IPA was distinctive in a good way.  Usually in these settings, there’s something that I really don’t care for.  That wasn’t the case here.

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The building is capable of expanded production.  They have a system of 7 barrel fermenters, electrically heated system, which saves the aggravation of maintaining a boiler system for steam.  They’ve been open for about three years, and production has already tripled since 2014.  Their goal for this is ~700 bbls in production.  Both of the owners are retired engineers from Ga Tech, where they roomed together.  As we sat around the table, none of the four of us went to Tech, but we each have kids who graduated from there. It was one of those minor “huh” moments.

Co-founder Chipley was present to stamp his casual grace upon those gathering, welcoming them with informative when asked and even playing the bagpipes for a too-brief birthday serenade.   The brewery’s name is funny but it doesn’t quite speak to the personality of the two founders.  Their website has a YouTube video which pretty well establishes the WYSIWYG vibe of the place. 

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They have a good variety of gear for those in want, and they should.  They have a great logo that should translate to merchandise sales.  But I have to fault them on the T-shirts.  First, I don’t like paying $25 for a T-shirt.  But I particularly don’t like buying a T-shirt at any price with thin fabric.  It just doesn’t last. Still, my friend Rich reeled in a 72 oz. catch before we left, which was half the price of a shirt but will last an even shorter amount of time, so, maybe I lose that point.

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I’d have to say that while there are many breweries that are closer,  this would be my choice for a relaxing afternoon sitting around with beers.    Below is an interesting video of the mayhem involved when a portable canning crew arrives.  As automated as you might expect the process to be, there’s a lot of manual work to be done.  The output is roughly 38 cans per minute.

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