Event Recap | 5th Annual The Shelton Brothers Festival
There are typically two responses when the Shelton Brothers are mentioned, either a person has never heard of them, or—if you’re like me—you thank the beer gods they exist. This specific festival has been around five years, and I dare to say, ATL probably hosted the best one yet.
The Shelton Brothers are world-renown for their expertise in selecting and importing traditional and unique artisanal beers, ciders and meads. Without the Shelton Brothers, breweries like Cantillon and Cloudwater wouldn’t be so popular in America. Their catalogue isn’t exclusive of just oversea breweries, they also carry greats like Three Taverns out of Atlanta, Georgia, Trillium out of Massachusetts and Prairie Artisan Ales hailing from Oklahoma.
Last weekend—August 18th —the Sheltons came to Atlanta to boast of their great collection of artisanal beers from around the world and I had the opportunity to sample them. With over 100 breweries at the festival and almost 500 attendees, The Southern Exchange, the location of the event, was packed. The event featured great food from local vendors some of the best international and national breweries in the game. That premiere collection made this one of the elite festivals in the country and brought out the most serious of beer lovers.
Someone Pass the Kleenex
Before we get to the highly sought out beers, I want to mention some craft beer enthusiasts I had the pleasure to meet. Atlanta’s very own beer authority, “Real Ale” Sharpton, greeted me as soon as I ascended the escalators and promptly advised that I get started immediately. Barry and I, from Black x Crafty, immediately had to make a choice, to the left or to the right. The Southern Exchange had two massive ballrooms and each one was massively hopped with attendees.
We choose the left.
As we proceeded towards our first beer, I immediately recognized the famous child of California breweries, Monkish, and I was super excited to try Matt Matt (a DDH IPA collaboration with The Veil Brewing Co.) As quickly as my excitement rose, it simultaneously dropped. As I got closer, I saw a small blackboard and written in chalk it reads; “Sorry, we’re out.” What! We JUST got there; with doors opening at 3:00pm, we got in about 3:10pm and we missed out!! I could cry.
Every festival goer should know this, never start with the big boys; i.e. Monkish, Tired Hands or Other Half. The lines are entirely too long and everybody is going for the same thing. At a festival like the Shelton Brothers—where every brewery is exclusively invited—there isn’t going to be a bad beer served, so take a chance on the breweries less known and experience something less have experienced.
Strawberry Fanta & Pink Hair
After I overcame my sorrow of missing out on Monkish, I started with the Razzmatazz Vol. 1 from Fonta Flora; an American Wild Ale with the clarity and color of a Strawberry Fanta, but the taste of a cool and tart raspberry popsicle. Very refreshing. Soon after, and to my surprise, I ran into several craft beer enthusiasts and if you’re like me, consider them the royalties of craft beer and some might even say craft beer babes.
After probably grabbing my third taster, I turn slowly as if seeing a long lost friend with excitement coming from my eyes. I see bright, shining and vibrant pink hair… it was Craftybeermaven! My heart was already jumping with joy and then I notice the Florida native herself, Tanya, better known by her IG page @babels_cameron. I took a selfie, talked for a bit and was done; I’m no groupie (though I wanted to be one). Now I had to get back to the beer because more blackboard signs were popping up from Cantillon, Mikkler and other sought after breweries.
Just Keep it Trill
One of the higher ABV brews that I had was a stout from Trillium, the Affogato. An Imperial Stout with coffee, vanilla and lactose, that made for a rich, creamy and boozey dessert beer. Now compared to the rich cocoa and toasted coconut Imperial Stout from Three Taverns, the Helm’s Deep, the Affogato was a little heavier and bolder. But if I had to keep it trill, I’d side with Three Taverns.
It just wasn’t the amount of beer at the festival that was overwhelming, but the sheer caliber of beer that was available. Again, the Shelton Brothers take special time in the research and discovery of phenomenal artisanal beers from around the world. I wasn’t just impressed with the beers available. Bounty Mead from Meridian Hive located in Texas was a succulent body of tropical sweetness and a warm downpour of silky smoothness with heirloom apples. It was very well crafted.
The 10 Top Beers At The Festival
While it’s hard to narrow a field full of all-stars, there were definitely 10 extraordinary beers that really stood out. I want to show through this romantic and organic experience, every sip was a swirl of intimacy with a beer that was brewed with tradition, character and passion. This is the Shelton Brothers. They haven’t released the date or location for the next festival, but when they do, I’ll be sure to update you and grab myself a ticket. Cheers!
In no specific order, here are the top beers that I tried, and I tried a lot!
- Fonta Flora – Razzmatazz Vol. 1 – American Wild Ale – 5%
- Trillium – Affogato – Imperial Stout w/ Coffee, Vanilla & Lactose – 13.3%
- 18th Street – Zero Discipline – NE DIPA – 8%
- Bearded Iris – DDH Double Scatterbrain – DIPA – 8.25%
- Coniston – Bluebird – Bitter – 4.2%
- Celestial Meads – Belgique – Mead – 12%
- Prairie Artisan Ales – Vape Tricks – Sour Ale – 5.6%
- Mikkeller – Big Hazy – Imperial NE IPA – 10.1%
- Meridian Hive – Bounty Mead – Mead – 15%
- Three Taverns – German Chocolate Helm’s Deep – Imperial Stout – 13%