Apparently there are some very thirsty craft beer drinkers in the northern suburbs of Atlanta. How do I know this? One of the Atlanta area’s newest breweries, NoFo Brew Co. (local lingo for North Forsyth County) in Cumming, GA, had their grand opening on September 27th and within two weeks they were flat out of beer! It’s remarkable and yet does not really surprise me. Since the changes in state wide brewery regulations in 2017, awareness of craft beer has grown significantly. As a result, demand for breweries and tap rooms closer to your own community has increased. According to Beer Guys Radio, 24 new breweries and 16 brew pubs have opened in Georgia since early 2017. People are starved for places that are family friendly and where they can go hang out for a few hours to socialize with friends. Add to that the attractiveness of quality, locally made craft beer and – shazaam! – you’ve got thirsty beer drinkers quickly draining your taps (note: it probably didn’t hurt that had been an unseasonably hot 90 degrees F the last few weeks in Georgia!). Most of the major breweries in the Atlanta area have opened Inside The Perimeter (ITP), the trend is beginning to gain momentum Outside The Perimeter (OTP). NoFo Brew Co., located OTP right off of Georgia Highway 400 about 25 minutes north of Alpharetta, is a prime example of supply attempting to meet demand.
Q & A with Joe Garcia
NoFo is the result of three friends Shannon Miles, Bryan Miles and Joe Garcia who have a passion for great craft beer. As I have found to be the case with the overwhelming majority of the wonderful people in the craft beer industry, co-owner Joe Garcia was kind enough to answer a few questions from me. Here are the highlights from my Q & A:
What made you decide to start a brewery in Forsyth County?
Forsyth County is where I live and raise my family along with Bryan and Shannon Miles (co-owners). We loved the idea and opportunity to bring great beer to our local community. The geography was also ideal, especially since there was only one other entity (Cherry Street Brewing Co.) making beer in the area.
When someone thinks about NoFo Brew Co., what do you want them to think about your brewery?
I want them to think great beer, a welcoming environment, and adventure.
How did you get started in brewing?
I’ve been a fan craft beer for last 15 years. I also have friends who own Atlanta and Southeastern-based breweries, which sparked the idea to lay out plans to start my own.
What are your favorite styles of beer to make?
It depends on the season. In the warmer months, I enjoy IPAs and during colder months, I prefer porter.
What is your favorite beer to drink (besides your own of course!)?
In Georgia, my favorite is Variant Brewing Company. I also enjoy Burial (Ashville, NC) and Bearded Iris (Nashville, TN).
So How’s The Beer?
For its opening weekend, the brewery introduced four distinct beers on tap. On Belay IPA, a West Coast style IPA brewed with Citra, Simcoe and Pacific Jade hops. Apres Vous Farmhouse Ale (Siason) brewed with Northern Brewer and Saaz hops. My Porter Boy Coffee Porter infused with FOCO Blend coffee from Cumming Coffee Roasters and Diversion Vienna Lager brewed with noble hops. All of these rated at least a 3.8 on Untappd, with Diversion rating 3.93. On my visit the following week, my main objective was to try Diversion, as Vienna Lager is my favorite beer style. Alas, my delay cost me an early shot at it, as they had already run out. I did get to sample My Porter Boy and one of their newest offerings, Northern Rim Rye IPA.
Northern Rim Rye IPA
Rye malt is very much an under utilized ingredient in a grain bill, in my opinion. It adds some complexity to beer in the form of grainy, spicy flavor plus body and slickness to the palate. This IPA is made with Centennial, Cascade and Bravo hops, giving the beer citrus aromas and flavors. The spicy notes from the rye perfectly compliment the hops combination. Bread and a hint of caramel flavor are present as well. A moderate level of bitterness provides good balance to the sweet tasting malt base; but it’s not the mouth-coating assault on the taste buds you find with a lot of highly hopped IPA’s and it does not linger too long into the aftertaste. Northern Rim checks in with a 6.0% ABV. A well crafted beer and should be among the first you try on your visit.
My Porter Boy Coffee Porter
Joe Garcia’s love for good Porter shines through My Porter Boy. Take a good solid Porter, add coffee, and the result is a full-bodied, smooth sessionable fall/winter beer. This 5.0% ABV Porter is infused with Cumming Coffee Roaster’s FoCo Blend – a combination of African and South African coffee beans. The coffee aroma and flavor is accented by cocoa and roasty malt notes. Bitterness is quite restrained, no more so than your morning cup of coffee. A solid edition to NoFo’s taproom, especially for the looming cold winter months.
Join The Club
Many breweries like to cater to their loyal regulars and NoFo is no exception. They offer four levels of membership for Founding Members – Washington $95, James $495, Grand Teton $995, and Rainer $2,495. Perks include a range of a round of beer on the house at your first visit, personalized mug stored on-site, exclusive invitations to private events and new beer releases, a separate members lounge and even brewing lessons.
As far as the facility goes, the brewery and tap room is well planned. There is a bar along one wall with plenty of individual sitting (a must for those of us that frequently fly solo at tap rooms). Ample tables for couples and large groups of people with plenty of space to move around the room. On the opposite end of the bar are large windows and roll up garage style glass door, which offers plenty of natural light into the seating area. Outside is an open area for games and additional tables for hanging out on warm sunny days. One additional feature I noted, that the ladies will surely appreciate, there are adequate restroom facilities. How many times have you gone to a tap room where there was one, maybe two, single toilet restrooms. Nothing worse than spending half your time there waiting in line for the restroom, right? On a final note, the brewery is located in a commercial/retail area and has ample parking, which is always a plus.
On my particular visit, I intentionally showed up during non-peak hours. I do this for a variety of reasons. The staff is usually more relaxed and able to answer my questions about the beers they are serving, plus it’s easy to find a seat at the bar. The NoFo staff was attentive, friendly and knowledgeable. I encourage readers to pay them a visit and enjoy the first class facilities and well crafted beers. If you do visit within the next few months, I caution you to be patient, as they are working furiously to keep up with demand. Startup breweries have a lot of challenges; therefore, expect a few bumps in the road and extend some grace. I can assure you the owners are doing everything they can to make your experience at their brewery as pleasant as possible.
Thanks for reading and until next time…Let Us Drink Beer!