After sitting down and chatting with the owner, John Roberts, it became clear to me that I had made a mistake in never visiting Max Lager’s before now. Located in downtown Atlanta, I arrived at the brewpub following a short walk from the Marta station to find a rustic but modern building reminiscent of Appalachian Brewing Co/The Abbey Bar in Harrisburg. I realize that I’m 1000 miles away, and it just feels like home. Before I met up with JR, it is recommended to me to drink their Hopsplosion. “If you come to Max Lager’s and don’t have a Hopsplosion, you might as well have not even came.” It was a brilliant recommendation – a juicy, dank, IPA that is aptly named and a perfect start to my first night in Atlanta. Welcome to the South.
Hopsplosion wasn’t the only brew I had that day as samples of upcoming barrel-aged concoctions are poured. I take this chance to explore the upstairs. Here you’ll find a large open layout, an L-shaped bar in the back, and a pool table. Soon you’ll find all hardwood floors.The largest wall is covered in a giant hand-painted mural showing fields of grain. Opposite, copper tanks for days with large windows behind them, allowing them to glow as they reflect the natural light. I felt as if at any moment I’d turn around and see and old friend. There’s just something about this building that’s comforting.
The more I talk about this year’s trip, the more I realize a reoccurring theme of Southern Hospitality. It started right here at the very first place we visited, at the very first drink.
We headed back downstairs where the full bar and dining room area are located. Business men and women, families, and groups of friends are found in this eclectic mixed crowd of patrons.
I sat down at the end of the bar and chatted up JR. We talked Atlanta beer politics. The antiquated beer laws that restrict them that he and others are working to change. The latest Atlanta craft beer drama (yes every city has some). He casually mentions that Max Lager’s, which opened in 1998, is the oldest independent brewpub in Georgia. He’s been a part of it from day one. “You mean to tell me that I’ve been coming to Atlanta for years and somehow I have never visited the oldest brewpub in GA, and it’s been sitting here all along?” Apparently I’ve been doing ATL all wrong.
The Southern Hospitality continues as we start drinking Demon d’Or, my favorite of the evening. The sun is starting to fade and it’s about that time for us to go onward with our beercation. Before we leave, I grab an Oktoberfest to finish the evening. Pro tip – get the chips and salsa you won’t regret it. I asked JR what he wanted people to know about Max Lager’s. He asked me the same. So, I share with you the story of my experience, and let you decide.