Budnyk’s Best Brews: Walkable Beer

For those that have reached the legal drinking age, it quickly becomes apparent that beer should have a special place in your fridge — or on the bartop in front of you. Natural Light and Pabst Blue Ribbon fall by the wayside and your tripels and saisons spend far more time weighting on your wallet.

But for those that are not into solitary drinking, one thankfully has a number of fantastic options within walking distance of campus to sit down on a high bar stool and enjoy the nicer beers, including some drafts that you will have trouble finding on the shelves in any nearby stores.

Broadly speaking, one has three distinct categories of bar nearby: the bar-brewery-pizza place of Slice & Pint, the burger and (artisanal/local) brew pub of Lucky’s (both located in the Emory Village) and the upscale bar that stretches along the main facade of The General Muir (situated way up at Emory Point). To avoid comparing ales and lagers, I will take a look here at the two low key, beer-centric establishments and save The General Muir for another day and a different discussion.

We will begin with the older of the two establishments, Slice & Pint, which has been in the Emory Village since mid-2013 when it took over the building formerly occupied by Everybody’s. On any given day, the pizza restaurant has over a dozen housemade beers alongside a number of delicious, housemade sodas. The brews are adventurous and usually quite delicious; last week’s “Throwdown Thursday” (a weekly special in which a unique beer is rolled out until it runs dry) featured cherries and raspberries in the tank, and it was amazingly satisfying. A dark beer with a hint of natural fruitiness in it proved well-balanced and drinkable while still retaining the strength of its quad base.

The bar also features a well-stocked list of spirits as well as some “guest beers” available by the bottle or on tap, but if you go here and order anything other than Slice & Pint beer, you have missed the point royally. Their beers are that which the bartenders and server find themselves most familiar and most ready to offer advice on. Want to know what goes with your loaded french fries? They can help with that.

To sum up the genius loci, it’s your neighborhood bar and you can get a bit of a Cheers thing going on, especially if you bring your crew. It isn’t uncommon to see a healthy mix of graduate students, community members and assorted undergraduates mingling on the dangerously tilty mounted stools. A given person can be there for hours, and it is no problem whatsoever. Slice & Pint has been my social spot.

Lucky’s Beer and Brew, on the other hand, has a decidedly different vibe. It is certainly restaurant first, bar second, but it has the best selection of good craft beers, local and otherwise, on tap, canned and bottled, of all the bars in the area excepting Brick Store Pub in downtown Decatur.

Lucky’s burgers, however, reign supreme. They are exciting and varied, with a strong representation of cheeses, meats and sauces from all over the place. The German Shepherd is easily my favorite, with a candied bacon jam spread over cambozola cheese on top of a four ounce burger, all in a fresh, toasted challah roll. But I digress.

Lucky’s claim to brew fame rests in its rotating taps — they swap out around every week and showcase primarily local craft beers. This week, for instance, one could order a draft Creature Comforts Athena sour beer or a Dogfish Head IPA, whereas last week I enjoyed a Three Taverns Brewery’s Night on Ponce. If you want exposure to a variety of beers and want to be able to walk home safely after putting a few back, Lucky’s is definitely the choice, bar none.

In summary, if you want new beers and great food swing by Lucky’s. They have a great staff and will be glad to help you pick something you will like even if you do not recognize a single one on the menu. If you want a stable, steady club-like community and are not afraid of ending up like Dr. Frasier Crane, go to Slice & Pint.

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