Author Archives: Max Blau

This Atlanta scientist wants you to eat insects

Source: Atlanta Magazine

A classic wedge topped with not-so classic palembus dermestoides, or buffalo wormsPhotograph by Caroline C. Kilgore Chelsea Thomas cuts celery stalks into bite-sized pieces and slathers each with peanut butter. A few dozen kids and their dutiful parents have taken seats in the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s outdoor kitchen, where the 27-year-old is demonstrating how to make “ants on a log.” She picks up a vial the size of a blood sample and removes the lid to extract her secret ingredient: actual ants, lightly roasted. “Have you tasted them before?” one boy asks. “Yes,” Thomas, who is wearing a dress printed ...

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It’s a great time to be a craft brewer—just not in Georgia

Source: Atlanta Magazine

It’s a great time to be a craft brewer—just not in Georgia

In tiny Greensboro, Georgia, the old North West Street cotton warehouse is in near ruin, its roof sagging and trash strewn across the dusty floor. But Taylor Lamm, a 33-year-old Augusta native, sees a second life in the century-old walls. He plans to launch Oconee Brewing Company. there this fall.

Near the shores of Lake Oconee, 75 miles east of downtown Atlanta, Oconee Brewing could become a craft beer oasis between Athens and Macon. But success is far from assured: Lamm is opening a brewery in a state that is notoriously unfriendly to them. Despite their best efforts to update ...

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Broad Street, get ready for food trucks

Source: Atlanta Magazine

A decade ago, Barbara Asher Square wasn’t exactly what you’d call a destination. In fact, the plaza just north of the Five Points MARTA station—with its mix of unchecked street vendors hawking incense, panhandlers, and homeless people—was a place you probably avoided altogether. Since then, though, Broad Street has shown signs of life with more than a dozen restaurants to the north and an emerging arts scene to the south of the central train station. Up next for the resurgent street: food trucks.

The Atlanta City Council is now looking at letting up to eight food trucks open for business ...

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Craft beer compromise kicks the can on direct sales

Well, that was fast. Just 10 days into the legislative session, Georgia’s craft brewers struck a deal with alcohol wholesalers to regain a right they had lost at the end of last year: The ability to sell beer to consumers as a “gift” for going on a brewery tour. But the fix came with an even bigger cost: A one-year moratorium on the fight for direct sales.

On July 1, 2015, when the “Beer Jobs Bill” went into effect, craft brewers could finally charge different amounts for tours based on how much beer—up to a six pack—a customer wanted to take home. The bill was the first step in a larger fight to let brewers sell beer onsite to consumers, a right enjoyed by almost every other state in the United States, save for Mississippi. But out of nowhere, the state’s Department of Revenue last September issued a memo with “clarifying language” that said brewers couldn’t base the price of tours on how much beer would be “gifted.” And those who violated the order would potentially lose tasting room privileges. Frustrated craft brewers, some of who invested thousands of dollars into tasting rooms, returned to square one as the memo rendered the new law meaningless.

The DOR’s actions angered some of the state’s top lawmakers. Before the 2016 legislative session began, House Speaker David Ralston and Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer called upon the agency to correct the problem it had caused. “If they don’t, we may have to,” Ralston warned. For a while, a bitter beer battle inside the Gold Dome seemed all but inevitable.

But the fight ended before it truly started. As part of the compromise between the Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association and the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, the DOR plans to restore the Beer Jobs Bill’s original intent. To do that, the agency will issue new rules to let brewers sell tours at varying price points again, host special events, and use social media to advertise deals. In addition, DOR officials will also allow third-party groups to sell tour tickets and allow food to be sold at breweries.

If craft brewers were enthusiastic about the deal, though, they weren’t making it known. Multiple brewers either didn’t return calls or declined to chat on the record. Nancy Palmer, executive director of the GCBG, only sent along a very brief statement: “An agreement with the governor’s office and legislative leadership for regulatory fixes to the brewing industry has been reached. We look forward to quick implementation.” On a GCBG conference call this afternoon, Eventide Brewery CEO Nathan Cowan called for brewers to “fall back” following the deal. “It’s David versus Goliath,” he added.

Meanwhile, wholesalers were quick to express their enthusiasm, in part because craft brewers promised to stop pushing for direct sales until 2017. In recent months, the GCBG had pressured lawmakers to do away with the state’s “three-tier” system, which requires a distributor for the sale of beer and liquor. Though no bill had been filed yet, state Rep. Ron Stephens, a Savannah Republican, was working on a measure to allow craft brewers to sell beer directly to consumers, sell food on their premises, and even open as many as five “tasting rooms” across the state.

“We’re thrilled about the compromise and thank our brewer partners and the Guild for working to make this happen,” GBWA spokesman Martin Smith told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “It took both of us.”

So where does that leave Georgia’s breweries now? If a current lobbying effort by Mississippi brewers is successful, Georgia will be the only state left without direct sales, leaving us stuck with a distribution model as old as the Prohibition for at least another year.

R.I.P., Zesto Drive-In on Ponce de Leon Avenue

Source: Creative Loafing Atlanta

Zesto on Ponce de Leon Avenue will soon shut off its neon lights, stop serving ice cream, and no longer hand out slaw dogs, ending a 60-year run at its iconic Midtown location.

The restaurant’s owners last Friday announced that the fast-food eatery had been sold to an “undisclosed buyer” and will officially close on September 20.…

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