By Bobby Bush
Based on my previous experience, just eleven months prior, a stop at Water Tower Brewing Company north of Atlanta in Kennesaw, Georgia was not on my agenda. But as fate (bad luck?) would have it on this particular Wednesday night, the large brewpub and its accompanying U.S. Play by Brunswick family amusement center were on the same exit as my hotel. The "S" was unintentionally missing from the lighted outdoor sign.
So before checking in, we made an unscheduled detour to the top of the hill for 10,000 square feet of gaming activity. At least this time there were people bowling on many of the 24 lanes and playing billiards in the Corner Pocket. All the while, their kids were entranced by token-eating video games, over 150 of them plus a rock climbing wall. Pizza Hut has a stand on the main aisle. But over in the corner where the Water Tower brewhouse and restaurant reside, inactivity was what wasn't happening.
Absolutely no dining. No beer drinkers at the bar. In fact, I had to search for the bartender, a young lady named Sonya. She was pretty certain that the brewer's name was Mark Ross. Advised that Old Tower Amber and Stout were not available, we settled in for a quick run-through of the Water Town beers. Described in barside literature as a "dry crisp golden ale," Kennesaw Mt. Gold was a clean, semi-sweet bicycle beer, not bad for beginners. Sourness and off-flavor marred the medium bodied Big Shanty Pale Ale, rendering it barely drinkable. Brown sugar sweet with low hops notes, reddish brown Thrasher Brown Ale was a nice English Brown. The Brewer's Special was copper colored German Ale. Not identified as either kolsch or alt, the typical German ales, this beer's taste was dominated by caramel malt, though there was no particular distinguishing point about it.
As an afterthought, bartendress Sonya remembered that, oh yes they did have German Stout on tap. Now stouts are an Irish creation. Lager-brewing Germans don't usually fool with hefty, filling beers like stouts (with the exception of a dopple bock or two). Name aside, this smooth, nitrogenized dark ale proved to be Irish Stout in categorization. Appropriately neither hoppy nor bitter, this full-bodied beer was Water Tower's second and last best, Thrasher Brown claiming first place in my book.
Perusing the menu of sandwiches, soups, salads and starters, Sonya commented that the "food is good." The beers were no better than that.
US Play works hard to attract business groups, corporate events, birthday parties, local sports teams and the like. Lasers, pounding music, black lights and fluorescent bowling pins introduce Cosmic Bowling nearly every night. Sports fill every television screen. Water Tower beers seem to be a focal point of the publicity as well. Maybe one day I'll visit when I'm not the only one drinking.
This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.
© Bobby Bush