Since I have been writing for this blog, I have become the de-facto beer guy. I’ve chatted with nearly everyone in the north Fulton/Forsyth area. I would be amiss to leave out the old guy on the block, 5 Seasons. How has Alpharetta’s first brew pub weathered the storm of growler stores, breweries, and other brew pubs? Have they been affected? The short answer is yes. And no.
5 Seasons was started by chef Dave Larkworthy back in 2001 as an avenue to offer fresh, local food paired with fresh, local beer. At that time they were the only player in the game. Dave’s friend Crawford Moran joined the show in 2004 as the brew master. Crawford was exposed to beer early on, and he quickly developed a passion for brewing. After a classic back packing through Europe trip, Crawford came back to his native Georgia with a mission; to brew the beer he fell in love with across the pond.
At that point in Atlanta, there wasn’t much of a choice beyond the mega beers, so Crawford took matters into his own hands and make what he wanted. He started Dogwood Brewing Company in 1995 and closed it in 2004. Crawford has a passion for brewing, and he is always excited to get hands on with some new styles, different hops and creative barleys.
The Alpharetta location opened about ten years ago on Old Milton Parkway, really all by itself. The brewery sits right as you enter behind a large wall with windows. The problem is, once you’re in the dining room, it’s easy to forget that there is a brewery there. It’s just hard to see it. It’s not so much 5 Seasons’ fault. Per the law, a brew pub has to keep the actual brewery behind a barrier from the public. For those wondering, Hop Alley skirts this a bit by having their bar declared a “barrier”.
The biggest change that has affected 5 Seasons is the 6% ABV law, where people can now brew and sell beers above 6% ABV. That allowed Crawford to really open up the types of beer that he could make.
The thing that really sets 5 Seasons apart is the amount of change you’ll find in both the food and beer menu. The lunch and dinner menu changes daily, and the beer menu changes nearly as often. Locally sourced food from nearly a dozen farmers supplies the restaurant with the freshest meals available.
The million or so growler stores that have opened over the last couple of years have exposed a whole new population to craft beer, which is good for 5 Seasons. Educating the public on new beers is a recurring theme in the Alpharetta beer scene. The more people want beer, the more beer everyone will sell. Sure, the growing number of options and outlets for beer is cutting into 5 Seasons’ business, but that’s offset by the quality food that’s available there.
One the biggest changes that would affect 5 Seasons hasn’t happened yet, and may never happen. Crawford is helping work toward changing Georgia law to allow breweries and brew pubs to sell beer to go in growlers. If that comes to fruition, then Crawford feels it would be a huge shot in the arm for business. Also, look for more beer education, one-off styles and whatever else Crawford can get his hands on.
The guys at 5 Seasons are kind of out on their own without a lot of help or relationships with the other local Alpharetta beer folks. They’ve been around the longest, but their location might have them left out of the discussion. Don’t fret for 5 Seasons. The ever changing menu and the passion for brewing will carry them far into the future. You never know what you’re going to get, but you know it’s going to be good.