Friday, April 18th to Sunday, April 20th at Varied by day

Location: Centennial Olympic Park





 As The Mist descended upon Atlanta, a rogue storm of bloodthirsty creatures wreaked havoc on this sprawling metropolis, while a small band of citizens fought for their lives held up under the Sweetwater 420 stage. Ok, maybe that was the synopsis for Steven King’s The Mist with some creative tweaks (special credit to IMDB), but none the less, the mist was a minor issue. What it wasn’t an issue for was the spirit and mood of Sweetwater 420 Festival. With great music, a vibrant artists market and a ton of happy people, the festival was in full force despite the minor mist setback.

Our first stop this year was to see our friend, Wesley Cook, play the main stage.  With his smooth sounds of the beach, intertwined with some catchy rock riffs, he was a big hit to festivalgoers. Cook is a dynamic singer, songwriter who has competed in Rolling Stone’s Street to Stage competition, as well as does anything from acoustic small shows to big stage productions. We would say he is a mix of beach fun-in-the-sun, Dave Matthews, rock, and jazz, then top that with his energy and you’ve got Wesley Cook. If you like any of that, you should check him out at http://www.wesleycook.com/.

I’ve never seen anything quite like the Not So Silent Disco Tent.  Heard from across the street, the dance beats filled the air around the tent as tons of festival goers piled into see the rainbow bright girls dance in front of a white, futuristic stage set up dressed up with lights, a hazer, and beach balls. The crowd danced to the beat in time as non-festival onlookers from the fence gazed in amazement. It was probably one of the best things at 420. It was energetic!

On the sponsorship side, Tic Tac blew me away with their neat little set up where attendees could stand in line to get a make-your-own pack of Tic Tacs. They had a large variety of flavors including, light and dark strawberry, peppermint, berry, as well as spearmint. Once the pack was put together you got your very own label. On the other side of the set-up was a place you could take a picture IN a Tic Tac pack. It was pretty fun the only downfall was the long line. The other big sponsor had to be Johnsonville Brats. They brought a really big truck that boasted it was the world’s biggest grill. It looked and smelled fantastic. They were selling large brats for $3 so we tried them. Mm Mm. Worth every bite. They weren’t the only food offering, there were a ton of food trucks scattered about including Mixed Up where you got your food to hair metal tunes, as well as anything from fries to comfort food to fish.

In the paved area of the park, the artist market had it all from jewelry (big watches, my favorite), clothing, artwork, to anything in between.  Beyond that there were two other experiences worth noting and they include the Comedy Stage and the Sweetwater Experience. To get out of the rain or for a little change of pace, attendees could go in and watch a live improve act from several improve theaters all over the city. The other place you could go was the Sweetwater Experience. They had beer pairings with food and a seminar on what is in your beer. Not to mention the specialty beers you could try for a small fee.

Overall, despite the misty experience, Sweetwater 420 was a lot of fun this year. Moving it from Chandler Park to Centennial Olympic park was a stroke of genius and made for a much better festival experience. The lines were a lot shorter and the parking situation was 100% better. We had a great time and are looking forward.


Saturday, April 5th at 2pm

Location: Masquerade Music Park

“We Smoke Pig Butts and We Cannot Lie” – Smoke Ring BBQ.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://www.hogsandhopsatlanta.com/

“We smoke big pig butts and we cannot lie,” huh? We have to admit that we too like smoked butts and cannot lie: we like them in rub, we like them in glub, we like them here or there, we like them everywhere. Dr. Seuss and Sir Mix A lot aside this festival was all about the food and there was more than I could fit into my belly.  At Hogs and Hops beer was flowing, the barbeque was smoked, the stew was stewing, the collards were steeping, all that being said are you hungry yet?  I drew up my elastic waist pants, gathered wet wipes, and dug in.
Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts? My favorite food of the festival was the Brussels sprouts from Smoke Ring. It was different and unexpected at a big barbeque festival. They combined what tasted like oil, garlic and salt. It was a thing of beauty, I might have muttered the words: To. Die. For. It wasn’t an understatement. I know it’s weird to talk about Brussels sprouts in a barbeque article so let’s move on. Of the barbeque variety there were two dishes that stood out to me: Bone Lick’s pulled pork straight from the hog was the first one. The pulled pork was tender with a lightly smoked and rich flavor, don’t ruin it with sauce, and eat it plain.  I had to go back for seconds and thirds. The second of my favorite barbeque offerings were the D.B.A Barbeque ribs. They were cooked to fall off the bone and had the right amount of spice and rub giving it a little bite. Along these same lines were was the best barbeque sandwich, by Moe’s Original Barbeque; it was the Turkey and Slaw. The turkey was tender and slightly smoky, while the slaw was vinegar based with the right amount of bitter cabbage and vinegar, topped with some mayonnaise. It was so good I ate the whole thing despite being stuffed up to my eye balls. Speaking of slaw, if you haven’t tried Sweet Auburn Barbecue’s Asian Pear Slaw, you’re missing out. Sweet. Salty. Vinegar-y. Slightly creamy; four good adjectives that should make your stomach growl. I know mine is! Let me take a minute here to mention that Greater Good Barbeque was the winner of the Hogs and Hops judges competition, but I didn’t get around to them as they were the furthest from the front. We will have to take a weekend adventure to try them and you should too.
Barbeque wasn’t the only thing on the menu like the Brussels sprouts, Bone Lick had some really good collards soaked with bacon, and another one of my favorites was the Italian Meatball from Mighty Meatball. It was smothered in marinara sauce, cooked, and then topped with more marinara sauce. Did I mention the meat was hand ground and they even make their own sausage? Phenomenal. Mighty Meatball has two food trucks and frequents the Atlanta Food Truck Park. You should go and hang out with these friendly, down to earth restaurateurs. Don’t forget the dessert. The line leading up to the tent said it all about The Naked Donut Company; they were fresh fried right on site and seconds before being topped. They were sweet and sticky with or without chocolate and sprinkles.


Barbeque and all the fixin’s weren’t the only draw, there was also some new Atlanta breweries and several new beers on tap to try. A new Atlanta brewery called Yes Face has a phenomenal beer called O Face Stout. It was one of those Stouts that you drink multiple of and enjoy the whole time.

Some stouts tend to get bitter over time or don’t have enough malt flavor but this had the right blend of both malt and flavor.  Have you ever heard of beer that tastes like pretzels? Look no further than Shock Top who now has a pretzel wheat beer that was surprisingly good (if you like pretzels as much as I do). It smelled like a bag of pretzels freshly opened and finishes with a slight pretzel flavor but smooth throughout.  I was surprised that I liked it so much because it was just so odd.  Speaking of pretzels, we’ve tried Knotty Pretzels a few times but paired with the Pretzel Wheat it was heaven. The local Atlanta pretzel company has some good flavors including Italian, which was really fresh and good.

With a full bell, we left Hogs and Hops with a smile on our faces. It was barbeque and beertastic and now I know what restaurants I’ll be going to for my barbeque fix.

Try any of these places for yourself, here’s a handy list:

Smoke Ring http://www.smokeringatlanta.com/

Bone Lick BBQ http://www.bonelickbarbecue.com/

D.B.A. Barbeque http://www.dbabarbecue.com/

Moe’s Original Barbeque http://www.moesoriginalbbq.com/

Mighty Meatballs Food Truck http://www.mightymeatballs.com/

The Naked Donut Company http://www.thenakeddonutcompany.com/home.html

Greater Good Barbeque http://greatergoodbbq.com/

Sweet Auburn Barbeque http://sweetauburnbbq.com/






Saturday, April 5th at 12pm

Location: Atlantic Station

The Carnival’s Coming To Town!

FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://www.thebeercarnival.com/

 Step right up! Don’t worry height restrictions don’t apply here; you can be 10 feet or 2 feet to ride these ride. With the beautiful Atlanta downtown skyline, blue sky, and the red flags of a carnival tent swaying in the wind, The Beer Carnival rolled into town with a plethora of engaging carnival games and beer. On this glorious day there were so many carnival games, it was almost impossible to figure out where to start. To the right were games and beer to the left were games and beer, what shall we do first?

From Angry Beers, a live take on Angry Birds, to Keg Racers that pits friends against each other in a race to glory, to several plastic ducks taking a swim down a watery luge, there was a little something to do for everyone (and their mothers!). My favorite game had to be the Duck Luge. I know, I know there was a game called Surgery! that was a BIG take on Operation! It was cool and deserves a little shock mention but it wasn’t my favorite. Why you ask? Water! Not only was it a little unique, it also involved pumping water that may or may not work or splash all over the participants and it just made for a really fun time.  I watched one girl laughing so hard that her pump didn’t work well that it really was contagious to all the people watching and playing.

Then, there were the Keg Racers, where you could sit on a plastic keg with wheels and race one of your friends around a short track and walk away with bragging rights. The line was pretty long and some people were really good at it and some people just would fall off or putt around the track. It was pretty funny to watch but it didn’t matter, the participants really had a lot of fun.  Another one of the games was the Beer Graffiti Wall, which was totally full by 2:30pm. There were tons of sayings and names on it but not a lot of real estate. So, we took to the ground and wrote our website on the ground and took a picture. Free advertising (kind of)? Yes, Please. Genius! Finally, there was Top Spin that allusive game that we played several times and just couldn’t win. It became a mission to win! What I found was that no matter how hard we tried we couldn’t win. It was like we could squirt the target all day but it was really random if you won or not. What is the trick to this game, I wonder? Is it like finding Bigfoot and just never going to happen? I guess so for this year. I would like to mention some of the other games that included BOWL! a big bowling game, some traditional carnival games like throwing balls at cans, to floating beer pong. I can’t monition them all here!

Let’s not forget the beer: three to mention. First, O’Dempsy’s Your Black Heart Stout was there, so you know which one I went back to a few times as they have one of my favorite stouts. I’ve had this beer so many times and just love it. Highly recommended. In the VIP area were two specialty beers that turned my head, the first being Starr Hill Little Red Roostarr Coffee Cream Stout. I took a chance on this one even though it had the word “milk” in it and it was worth it. It was a gloriously smooth with a strong chocolate nose and a creamy finish. One of the best beers I’ve ever had and no it isn’t better than my favorite beer Wake-N-Bake so don’t ask.  The other was the Red Brick’s 20th Anniversary Ale.  It was a Russian Imperial Stout aged in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels. Red Brick’s website quotes it at 10.5 percent ABV and one of its biggest beers yet. It was a good big beer with a lot of up front malt and a smooth bourbon finish. I would recommend it. Finally,back out in the general area was Eventide Stout. I finally found a place that has a stout that is in their regular brewery rotation. YES! It’s really hard to find stouts on tap all year round at a brewery.

This carnival wasn’t about the bearded lady, elephants, clowns, or the Amazing Houdini the Magnificent; it was a fun time with games and beer. There was so much to do and so little time. Next year, I’m playing more games and by God I’m going to win Top Spin.


Saturday, March 29th at 1pm

Location: Masquerade Music Festival

You’re Bacon Me Crazy.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://www.dadsgarage.com/shows/season-19/special-events/baconfest-2014.aspx

By Liz and John Attaway

With a short cover of Closing Time renamed “Pooping Time” and the distinct smell of bacon in the air, Baconfest 2014 kicked-off with a few rolling clouds, light sprinkles, and all the bacon you could eat. Despite feeling like the Wicked Witch of the West in my greenish CW poncho fearing the

rain might melt me into a puddle (ok, the rain wasn’t bad); the festival was one of the best festival experiences you can have in Atlanta. It was all about the bacon, beer, and carnival shenanigans. Whether you had Portioned Porking, Go Whole Hog, or Bottomless Bacon there was 2,250 pounds of grease-laden bacon and BLTs to partake in and don’t forget the PBR. But, this festival had it all.

What is “all”, you ask? Let me give you a very short list of the attractions in no particular order: Hobo Wine Tasting, Prize “Wheel,” Karen’s Kompliments, Wynatte Flip Cup Tournament, Scavenger Hunt, Kissing Booth, Dr. Boobies, Baconatrix, PBR’s Human Fest, Mini Roast, In Your Face Painting, Thimblerig Circus, Blast Off Burlesque, Seed and Feed Marching Band, an adult bouncy house, and more. How was that? All that being said not only did you get to enjoy entertainment on stage from silly songs to circus side shows and bands to burlesque, but there was so much to do you don’t even know where to start.
So let’s start with my favorite and one of the biggest attractions: the Hobo Wine Tasting. Warning: whatever you do, don’t try these at home.  From the minds of the Euclid Yacht Club, the group was offered three types of Hobo Wine: Wild Irish Rose, Thunderbird, and some sugary strawberry crap. Not one of them was worth standing in line for but all together they were the trifecta of yuck. Top them off with some canned cheddar cheese and off-brand crackers and you get Hobo Wine Tasting. It was all the way around delightful probably to Hobos only. The other big attraction was the Prize “Wheel.” Some of the coveted prizes included a wrestler hug, a high five, some musical accompaniment, and don’t forget the PBR swag. While we were waiting in line, there was a downpour and the wrestler got drenched, so by the time we got up to the front we were all crossing our fingers that we didn’t have to endure a wrestler hug. Especially once we saw him pick up one guy and carry him around. What if I landed in the mud and got gross wrestler sweat on me? Luckily, we made out pretty good with PBR wristbands, a PBR t-shirt (that was worn as a cape), and some bacon temporary tattoos. Did I mention the PBR t-shirt that was worn as a cape? The PBR people thought it was awesome and stopped to take a picture of him.

This content is rated PG-13. Proceed with caution. What is that on your face? I couldn’t help but spew a little bit of beer out my nose as I passed droves of people with genitalia on their faces. From pink and purple penis to vaginas and everything in between, the Naughty Face Panting people were not shy about showing their uh-hem… stuff off to everyone who would look.

My favorite had to be the head penis that ran ear-to-ear.  I think the number of guys with these naughty bits on their face was the most in the history of the world. Couldn’t they just have painted bacon? The fun didn’t stop there: they were also giving away spankings via the Baconatrix. People lined up to get three licks like they were Tootsie Pops. It was quite risqué. Finally, things got a little hot when the police took the stage and gave us a little strip tease. No, not the real police, but the Blast Off Burlesque that stripped down to their shorts and t-shirts.
What would any good festival be without the obligatory band but I’m happy to report this one was a mish-mash of horns, drums, dancers, and furries(!) that joined to bring us Seed and Feed Marching Band. It was a different spin on your typical festival band/marching band. I talked to one of the members and they said they have been around 40 years and they are celebrating their 40th year by leading the Inman Park Parade this year. I promised I would put in a plug to see them as this will be their biggest and best showing yet. It’s going to be hilarious!
With everything going on, how could you get all that bacon and beer in? It was possible and I walked away feeling full and swearing off bacon and PBR for at least 24 hours. Until then, the meat sweats will continue and the happy memory of Baconfest will linger on.