After my decision last January not to attend Atlanta Cask Ale ’14 this coming January, the very event that I thought would be the one that kept me sane in terms of real ale in America, I started to reflect upon my role in the Atlanta beer scene in general. Ten months on and as we are approach that time of year again, my reflection has continued and deepened. While I have been contemplating where I stand, I found myself thinking about the time I have spent at The Brick Store over the years. As I was doing that, I realized that in the last 12-18 months I’ve hardly been in the building (at least not compared to the amount of time I’ve spent there in the past) and I began to ponder.
For those of you that are unaware, The Brick Store in Decatur (a small ‘city’ to the east of Atlanta) is a beer bar that is routinely touted and reported as one of the top few drinking establishments in the whole of the United States. For my part I concur; it’s a magnificent establishment, run by some of the most friendly and knowledge beer people on the face of the earth, and as such my absence from The Brick Store has nothing to do with The Brick Store itself. I have always been treated wonderfully well there, have made some memorable acquaintances amongst the patrons, owners and staff, and have generally, immensely enjoyed my time there – none of that has changed, and most of it means a lot to me. What I conclude is that the change is in ME, not the Brick Store – it still stands as a beacon of beer quality in a cultural beer desert.
I suppose, much like my Cask Ale decision, I’ve given up. There was a time when I was willing to seek the ultimate solace that I found in the English pub at home, in America, and The Brick Store looked like it would be a pretty damn good place to start. In fact, it was more than that, it seemed like the perfect place to start, and it almost seemed serendipitous. I found myself in the relative beer culture desert that Atlanta is, BUT there was The Brick Store! It seemed as if there had been some divine intervention just for me! Please don’t get me wrong, under no circumstances was I ever seeking The Brick Store to be the same as the English Pub. This is a very common misconception amongst people that is completely incorrect, i.e., that somehow I want America to be like England; it can’t be and I do not want it to be.
Essentially, I have come to the conclusion that I will never find my ‘beer peace’ in the USA. If I can’t find it amongst the eminently cordial and knowledgeable surroundings of The Brick Store, and if I can’t find it amongst wonderful folk like Dave, Todd, Grant, Nathan, Brian, kp, Paul, Robert, Lee, Lance, Greg etc. etc. (apologies if I have left you out), then where is it? I don’t think that it’s out there. A shame.