Two Craft Beer Places in Atlanta to Visit That Are Within Walking Distance

While Atlanta is not a craft beer destination like Portland, Seattle or Denver, you’ll only need a handful of great beer bars to discover locally brewed beers. Krug Street Market has bottle shop and bar Hop City, which has plenty of local goodness, there’s two places you can tell your Lyft or Uber driver to head to for something after hours.

The Porter Beer Bar is in the funky Little Five Points area, which historically has been its “artsy” area (code for upscale hipsters that wishes it was like Williamsburg and West Village NYC). Surrounded by tattoo parlors, cafes and other trendy bars, PBB has an extensive draft and bottle and has that Belgium beer bar decor. With a high turnover of taps, it always seems that I pick the drafts that juuuuust kick … or they are too lazy to reprint the beer menu that morning or install a chalk board.

In any event, they have a excellent selection of local, regional, Canadian and Belgium beers. It’s not a question of what to have, it’s what NOT to have (stuff you can get anyway).

Here’s what I had while admiring the vintage luggage:

  • Jekyll Brewing — Southern Juice IPA
  • The Southern Brewing Company — Wild Wanderings
  • Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! — Équinoxe du Printemps

No need to taxi over, just a five minute walk down the street is one of the few brewpubs in the city, Wrecking Bar Brewpub. Even better, it’s housed in an old mansion that dates back to 1900. On the downside, it was featured in Guy Fieri’s abomination of a travel shows, Diners, Dives and Douchebags or something along those lines.

Grab a bar stool or, like I did, grab a couch and a pint and drink your way through their beer line-up.

  • Just the Tip of the Cap English Mild
  • Sow Your Wild Oatmeal Porter
  •  Breaking Bob Kölsch

Chase Sapphire Reserve — My One Year Anniversary and Thoughts on Lounge Access

Today is an important anniversary in my travel — one year since I applied and was accepted for the iconic Chase Sapphire Reserve. As you remember, Chase knocked down the 100,000 mile bonus to 50,000 a little over a year ago, which caused a rush to apply before the deadline. I jumped on board that bad boy, because I’m flushed with miles from my main card, the Virgin Atlantic Visa.

Since then, I easily passed the $4,000 charge threshold to get the 100K by charging my rent on Plastiq. Then, I detailed ways you get earn triple miles by charging at coffee houses, breweries, parking, public transport, tolls and ordering food online. With my maneuvering, I earned 155,149 miles in one year. Holla!

With my flights to Vancouver and Denver for a quick trip, I’ve used some of the other travel perks from the card and ways to earn more miles.

For the 3X miles, it’s obvious, but charging your baggage fees will get you triple miles. Normally, with airline credit cards, your bag is checked for free. It’s a good thing if you travel frequently, which offsets the $95 annual fees of something like the the Delta travel card. I had that at one point, but canceled because I wasn’t flying Delta enough and cashed in my bonus miles for a free round trip to Miami.

Then just like in the U.S., some places in Vancouver that you would think would earn 3x miles does not. Two coffee places and a brewery were just a normal mile. It depends how the business registers to the credit card company (restaurant vs. retail store).

While the card comes with some amazing perks like Global Entry and Pre-TSA (which I had before I got the card), the only perk I’ve taken advantage of is the Complimentary Airport Lounge Access via Priority Pass Select. It’s more like “taking advantage of” in air quotes. While it seems like a cool perk, it’s nothing to go out of your way to use.

With my trip through six airports, only Vancouver International terminal I was able to use the lounge. The others (Denver, Newark, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Minneapolis), the lounges that were part of Priority Pass Select were in other terminals.

The lounge in Vancouver could be accessed by anybody willing to pay $25 an hour. When I arrived, it was way crowded with tourist yahoos clamoring over free cans of soda, cheap wine, rice pilaf and orange chicken. On top of that, one bathroom for both sexes. When I got an open seat, I had everybody and their mother rolling their luggage over my feat. After 30 minutes, I determined being out in the terminal was a better use of my time.

The others perks, like travel, late baggage and trip delay insurance, I hope not to use.

 

Krog Street Market is a Great Place Escape To During the Atlanta Airport Power Outage

In what has become a fact of reality in travel, one airport’s power and system outage will cripple worldwide travel. It just so happens that the world’s busiest airport was the victim.

Atlanta International Airport’s outage was especially severe because the amount of connecting flights that pass through the city and being a hub for the major airlines. I’ve avoided flying through it, so should you.

In any case, if you need a little escape and want to shove as much local food as possible into your stomach, Krog Street Market is the city’s new fangled, gentrified food hall that every city has to have. It’s usually in a converted warehouse in an area with other similar business like art galleries, brunch places and craft breweries.

Located in Inwood Park, the Market is located in a former pot-belly stove and iron-pan factory. The food stalls inside is a who’s who of what foodie goodies. Every stall has Instagrammable food options — pizza, desserts, sushi. What was good in that the portion were small, so you can hit two or three during your visit. What was bad that even small nosh will put you back $10.

I went with the burger at Fred’s Meat & Bread because “Duh!”, the bao at Suzy Sue’s Bao and a chocolate scoop from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. Then a pint (that I spilled all over the high top table) from Hop City, which is a bottle shop and bar.

While the joint is easy to navigate because it’s just a big square and each place has some seating, there is one major problem … one friggin bathroom with a stall and urinal. Unless I missed the sign somewhere, that’s egregious from a place as popular as Krug’s.

As an interesting read on food halls, it’s resurgence due to Instagram and drawbacks, read a recent New Yorker article, The Inflated Promise of the American Food Hall. Sample line: “After four months, she closed down. ‘It was absolutely soul-crushing,’ Fidanza said. ‘It was the saddest four months of my life.’ ”

Food halls are popular with tourists because it gives a quasi-local feel, but locals tend to stay away. Case in point, with my new job, I work with our office in Atlanta. I mentioned the Krug Street Market and five people told me, “Yeah, heard of it. Haven’t been there.”

Atlanta’s Orpheus Brewing Is Heavy on the Sours and IPAs

While Atlanta can garner wildly different opinions, we can agree that there’s plenty to do in a two-day period. A whole week? Hmmmm, not so much.

Now that Georgia has new beer laws, craft breweries like Orpheus don’t have to jump through hoops to serve and sell beer. When I visited over the summer, there was a narrow window it was open. Now, it’s seven days a week and open late on the weekend.

The location is a little tricky in that you have to walk behind the building through a narrow walkway and up a few levels to get inside. On a humid summer Saturday, the outside deck was jammed and you had to rub nuts to ass to get inside. Inside, there was long lines and clusters of people jockeying at the bar to get beer samples.

If you can tolerate the chaos, you’ll get some funky sours and hop heavy IPAs. The sours were especially interesting and complex and hoppy IPAs will satisfy all hop heads. I’m all about variety, so I could have used a few dark beers. After a while, all those sours will wreck your palette.

They do distribute throughout Georgia and bottle a few one off sours. The design riffs on Greek mythology as you’ll see on elaborate and artful cans of Life.Death.Life.Truth IPA.

Here’s what I had:

  • Transmigration of Souls — Double IPA
  • Lyric Ale — Saison
  • Serpent Bite — Sour
  • Atalanta — Saison
  • Noise and Flesh — American Wild Ale
  • Over & Over — Pineapple Sour

The Vortex in Atlanta Proudly Displays a Wooden Penis

And it’s a family-friendly establishment!

The Vortex in downtown Atlanta is known for it’s crave-worthy hamburger that comes in various gut-busting varieties (Peanut Butter, Bananas AND Bacon!). It’s other claim to fame is the giant wooden phallus that patrons can rub to good luck. I chose not to, thus I am doomed for a lifetime of bad luck.

To make a long story short,  a customer bought the dick in Thailand and gifted it to The Vortex in 2014. I hope they sanitized it thoroughly. It soon gained notoriety and was given the hashtag, #dickofdestiny. Now, women and man can jerk it off in front of total strangers and take inappropriate pictures for future humiliation.

Other than the big dick, there’s a few more sexualized imagery spread through out the establishment — a few vintage pinups, 80s boxing ring girls and a few skin mags from the 70s.  It’s harmless fun and the locals enjoy the kitsch.

Mostly, the Vortex is a sports bar in a city that’s not into professional sports. Atlanta is all about college sports, especially the Georgia Bulldogs.

I wasn’t there for penis, porn or college sports, I wanted a burger. I just got a basic bacon cheeseburger with mac and cheese, and indeed, it was rather tasty. I think the place is known more for contagiousness and the over-the-top burgers like the Zombie Apocalypse, Fat Elvis,  Reverse Cowgirl and Coronary Bypass.

Ironically enough, the great comedienne from the Daily Show Michelle Wolf  was the playing the comedy club attached to the establishment that night. She’s known for feminist critiques.  No word if she rubbed the dick.

You Can Visit the Railroad Trestle from REM’s Murmur Album in Athens, GA

While you pay a visit to Weaver D’s Delicious Fine Foods in Athens, GA, you can also visit another REM landmark. Their first album was 1983’s Murmur featured such classics as Radio Free Europe, Talk About the Passion and Catapult. This was the beginnings of the American indie rock movement and showed what REM would become.

If you look at the back of the album, you’ll see a broken down wooden railroad. Thanks to the people of Athens, the trestle was deemed an historic landmark and choose to preserve it. It dates back to 1833 it connected Athens to Augusta.

You can actually walk to Dudley Park from Weaver D’s (about 11-minute-walk), but if you want to just visit it, there’s a parking lot nearby.

For your GPS, put in “R.E.M. Murmur Railroad Trestle, 220-270 S Poplar St, Athens, GA 30601” and it will guide you to it. It’s actually a rather pleasant area to walk around, far from an technology or any buildings. It’s a nice little tranquil space.

While it’s a little difficult to get the exact angle of the photo, you can walk underneath and around it.

Last year, the trestly made the news rounds as some trails might be built around it. From AthensOnline:

The fate of the trestle, the remains of which stand in the edge of Dudley Park a short distance off Oconee Street in the eastern edge of downtown Athens, has become tied in some public discourse to plans for a rail-trail project, a multiple-use paved path following an old railroad bed, paid with local special-purpose local option sales tax dollars.

 

The Why Am I Not There? Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers 2017

Time to get out those credit cards because were spending some cheddar this holiday. I believe it was the great philosopher Madonna of Michigan that proclaimed, “Holiday … it can be so nice.”

These gifts will be practical to the intrepid traveler or will inspire their wanderlust. Even better, they are below $100. So no $295 travel size of room spray or $150 lip palm made from alpaca saliva.

Passport Wallet — These things are essential  for business and leisure travelers.  Now that some airports will need more than a driver’s licence to prove that you’re not a terrorist, you’ll need something to hold your most valuable documents. There are slots where I keep my frequent flyer cards, GlobalEntry and foreign currency. Pro Tip — never put your extra money if your carry-on, always have it on you.

The counter argument is that they are bulky. I say that’s a good thing because you always know that it’s on your person.

I always gift these passport wallets from Fossil because they have a bit of retro flare while having handsome colors of leather for both sexes.

$42 – 90: Fossil.com

Travel Cord Roll — This is a neat little way to keep your tech cords in one place so that everything is in order. It can cause panic with the amount of cords that ones needs to keep you charged up and on the go. Just for myself, I have to brings cords for the laptop, phone charger, Ipod charger (yes, I still have one), camera chargers and charging brick.

This fun roll-up from Uncommon Goods is made from leather and felt. It has plenty of room for your cords, a pouch for wall charger or international converters and a string to tie is all together.

$20: UncommonGoods.com

Mini-Travel Charger — There are so many different sizes and capacity of travel chargers to choose from. There are high-end one that can power your laptop for a few days to one that are the size of a lipstick that can charger your phone on the go.

On my last trip, I brought a mid-sized Anker charger that I could get three charges from my phone. I then paired with a triple-speed wall charger so it was no sweat to get it at full capacity overnight.

This one from Anker (PowerCore+ Mini 3350)  is the about the size of a roll of Lifesavers and fits in your jacket pocket. You can even put it in your front pocket so that people can use the line “Is that a roll of quarters in your pocket or are you happy to see me?” In any event, this can recharge your phone fully for a whole day if that’s all you need.

$15 — Amazon.com

Japanese Notebooks — Many travelers like myself still carry a small notebook or notepad and pen in my carry-on. Either just to write down reminders or just to have a sketchbook to pass time.

I have a few goofy ones, but I love these vintage-style ones made by the Japanese stationary company, Apica. They come with different colors, have a fun calligraphy font, different page counts and choices of hard or soft covers.

You can find cheap ones from ebay that come from U.S. sellers. The funkier ones come from Japan and might take a while to arrive.

$5-$15 — Ebay

Izola Tote Bags — I refuse to use a backpack while traveling. I don’t care how stylish they come, I still prefer a cross body, messenger-style bag or a shoulder bag.

These somewhat unisex travel bags from Izola have fun saying on them (Keep It Together, Off the Grid) and are perfect for a weekender, a carry-on or the beach.

$75 — Izola.com

“I Sleep With Strangers” Eye Mask — If you need a stocking stuffer from a travel companion, these are good for a good chuckle.

Flight 001 also makes one that says “Wake Me for Champagne” for those who roll in Upper Class.

$8 — Flight001.com

Monogram Luggage Tags — You can never have too many luggage tags. It’s a sure fire way that some idiot doesn’t accidental take your bag on the luggage carousel. Please don’t wrap your luggage in color masking tape or put an X on it in duct tape, which is a TSA red flag.

Myself, I have a recycled denim tag, a puffy one in the shape of a hamburger, a few disposal paper ones with vintage travel ads as on them and a few leather ones. I put a few one of my luggage so I an quickly pick them on among the other black or red suitcases.

Pottern Barn makes ones that you can splurge a bit and have some initials monogrammed on them.

$20: PotteryBarn.com

The Wayfarer’s Handbook: A Field Guide for the Independent Traveler — I thought this was a neat read and a good spin on the “How To Travel” guide. Author Evan Rice included info-graphics and charts. It’s not condescending or faux-inspiration, so it relies on a witty ideas and advice. Even if you’re a know-it-all, some of his opinions and stories had me chuckling.

$15: Amazon.com