Divide and conquer

(ACHTUNG: The following subject matter is OTP and beer-nerd in nature. Potential side effects include eye-rolling and moderate disinterest.)

Atlanta’s three Summits Wayside Taverns (Sandy Springs, Cumming, Snellvegas) are known by many as bastions of good beer. Each of these former Taco Macs features dozens of draft selections and over 100 different bottles. While few argue against this “more = better” design, a selection of this magnitude can be daunting, even to a seasoned beer nerd. I’ve seen a handful of new customers with good intentions grow frustrated with the vast menu and cop out, “Aw hail, gimme a Coors Light.”

Upon last summer’s passage of HB645, which allowed Georgia to expand its craft brew offerings, Summits wasted no time adding several newly legal nectars to its menu. Beer lovers rejoiced, but two problems persisted: The expanded selection was now even more intimidating, and, most importantly, beer at Summits ain’t cheap. A standard pint is $5 and some of the exotic offerings are substantially more. To rub salt, the high-alcohol brews are served in a puny 10oz. glass.

So as the local craft brew community struggles to make itself a viable part of Atlanta’s hospitality industry, it is faced with a nagging question: How can you expect someone to pony up $5+ for a whole serving of beer they might not like?

Admittedly, I stopped frequenting Summits a few months ago because my wallet simply couldn’t deal. Last night, the wife and I agreed to meet another couple at the Sandy Springs location. I was pleased to discover what might be a solution of sorts to the infinite menu/finite wallet disconnect:

The $1.50 taster

Or as I like to call it, Tappas On Tap.* Now, for six quarters (ten quarters for the high gravity stuff), you can get a 4oz. glass of anything on the draft menu. (Brewpubs have always offered sampler trays, but those are usually a preset selection for a preset price. This is picking and choosing cafeteria-style.) Maybe it’s been like this for a while. Maybe other bars already do this. The point I’m trying to make is that it’s now possible to, say, taste Sierra Nevada Porter, Brooklyn Brewing Porter, Anchor Porter, and Highland Oatmeal Porter simultaneously without taking out a second mortgage or worrying about alcohol poisoning. 4 x 4oz/$1.50 = 16oz(one pint)/$6.00. Obviously, six bucks is no deal for a pint of beer, but last night was the first time I can remember not feeling trapped under the weight of Summits’ menu.

Nice work, Summits. I’m proud of you.

* – The phrase Tappas on Tap is © Tony Simon as of right now.

3 Comments so far

  1. Lori (unregistered) on July 22nd, 2005 @ 1:44 pm

    It’s a good idea. But I’ve never met a bartender who said “no” when I asked to taste a brew- no charge.

  2. Moise (unregistered) on July 22nd, 2005 @ 11:59 pm

    Are the “cheap domestics” (bud light, coors, etc.) also $5/pint?

    In response to those who end up ordering a Coors Light: I would rather try a beer I’ve never heard of for $5 than to pay $5 for a Coors light. If you go to a place with a selection as vast as Summits’, be prepared to try something new.

  3. Tony Simon (unregistered) on July 23rd, 2005 @ 9:58 am

    No, the pee-water beers are cheaper. Which is surprising because you think they’d charge extra for all that rice and formaldehyde.

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