We’ve all heard of all these awesome themed bars, that serve up exotic cocktails, foods and events to cater to your needs. For me, these types of places seemed so far away or I had no idea where they were. Fast forward to me turning 21 years old and finally moving over to Atlanta, Georgia, a completely foreign land to a born and raised Californian. I had heard through a friend about Battle&Brew, which was described to me as a videogame themed bar. Before that the only place I knew that was remotely like this place was the Mana Bar in Australia, which always seemed like a dream to me. Playing videogames, while drinking beer and/or themed cocktail drinks… definitely couldn’t be true. I’ve been to Battle&Brew multiple times, since moving to Georgia and each time has been an amazing experience. It doesn’t matter if it’s a busy night or a tournament or trivia night, everyone is having a ridiculously good time.
They offer a variety of different experiences for every customer who comes in, anywhere from tournaments, trivia nights, different gaming consoles/PCs to relax with and a rock band stage. The walls are decorated with photos of amazing cosplayers, gaming related art and posters from different games over the years. Drinks and food, oh man the drinks and the food! The food is extremely amazing and comforting, you aren’t going to find something you don’t love on their menu and chances are it’s named after one of your favorite videogames. The Walking Dead, Red/Blue Portal, The Fifth Element, Rainbow Dash and Pokemon Shooters also all happen to be drinks served up at Battle&Brew, which I may have treated myself to and a few more.
I had the opportunity to interview two lads from Battle&Brew, who were nice enough to answer a few of my questions. Gunnar, the Tournament Organizer and Drinks Mixologist Mage and Brian, the Chef-Warrior whose weapons of choice to take into battle might be a spatula and his own miraculous beard.
What do you want to accomplish with your bar for your customers?
Gunnar: I want to give my customers a destination that is completely different. I believe there’s a stigma surrounding geeks, that they are too smart and nerdy to know how to relax and have a good time. In reality, I think everyone is a geek in some way, shape, or form, and I try to bring that out in people. We have had so many people from so many different walks of life that I really don’t believe there is anyone out there who can’t find something they enjoy at our bar. My favorite moments are when people say, “This is so much better than anything I expected.” I mean, my job is to make sure you get to play whatever game you want while I bring you amazing beers and good food. How can you not be having fun?
Currently the drinks you have are completely amazing [enjoyed them all], what is the most popular drink among customers and what type of drinks would you like to do in the future?
Gunnar: I’m personally very happy to say that I don’t think we have a most popular drink. Some are more popular than others, but I think part of what makes a bar great is the ability to have more than one incredibly popular cocktail or beer. Since we are constantly rotating through different beers, we try to give customers an opportunity to try all kinds of new and rare beers. For example, seasonals are usually carried in limited quantity for only a few months out of the year. After that they are either made differently the next year or disappear completely. I used to be really comfortable drinking only a couple different beers, and now I look back and think, “Man, how many beers did I miss getting to try before they were gone forever?”
Can you explain in a little more detail what you guys do/offer with the Game Tournaments and Trivia Nights?
Gunnar: Every Thursday I host a tournament at Battle n Brew that features either Super Street Fighter AE, Tekken Tag 2, Mortal Kombat 9, Starcraft 2, Persona 4, or Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom. It’s usually only 5 to 10 bucks to compete and it’s totally free to spectate. The top 3 players end up getting different amounts of that money as cash prizes, and sometimes we offer different prizes that we raffle off, like free PC repair and house cash. Our trivia is geek themed, and can cover anything from science fiction to video games to history. A lot of people say it is the hardest trivia they’ve ever seen, but that never seems to keep tons of people from showing up. Trivia is usually our busiest night, and it’s a great way for first-timers to see how strong and varied our community is.
Where do you get inspiration to make certain dishes?
Brian: I draw inspiration from everywhere. The tri-force really has more to do with its “Three” nature than anything particularly burrito related. A 3-meat burrito is a solid staple on any tex-mex style menu and at the time that I added it to the menu we had nothing but American-Style bar food. I felt like we should try to do more ethnic and esoteric dishes and so that was the most successful thing to come out of a lot of different experiments. A lot of times I’ll see a dish online or something and I’ll be reading about games and I just sync the two up. The two biggest things are A. making sure the reference isn’t something off-putting to the appetite i.e. I don’t want to do a left 4 dead zombie food dish, despite it’s popularity and B. maintaining some semblance of a connection between the theme of the ingredients and the source.
What has been the most popular dish you’ve ever created?
Brian: The Tri-Force Burrito, hands down. I’ve sold something like 200 a month. That’s a lot of giant burritos. Second place goes to the Pesto Chicken Quesadilla. Both of those items became staples of the menu. One I haven’t added to the menu yet is a Curry Tater Tot basket because the cooking is a bit tricky with our current set-up.
Where would you like to see Battle and Brew in the future?
Gunnar: Personally, I would love to see a chain of Battle n Brew’s all over the United States. If we can get such a positive response in such a relatively small town as Marietta, GA., I would love to see what a place like this would be like in New York, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. I would also love to see us working with a lot of other people who do different things in the gaming community, such as gaming developers, eSports casters, and convention organizers so that we can explore different ways to take care of our customers when we are not just giving them great beer and fun video games.
Brian: I would really love to see it become a staple of geek and nerd culture for the entire south-east, not just Atlanta. I want people flying in to come hang out and talk games, food and geek culture. We want to be Atlanta’s nerd mecca destination, so people that come for Dragon*con say, “We have to go before we leave. We cannot miss it.” I want to go cook food for video-game developers that inspires them to make games I love.
Do you have any favorite moments/stories from working there?
Gunnar: I’m trying so hard to think of one specific example, but as corny as it sounds I think really my favorite thing about this bar has been watching it grow over the past couple of years. We have increased sales numbers in ways most bars never experience. We have started being noticed by celebrities in the video game and online communities. People are realizing, “There’s really no place like this,” and this is giving us opportunities that could be monumental. Maybe my favorite moment was when I was at a coworker’s apartment for a party a couple years ago and a few of us were sitting around some beer (maybe a lot of beer…) and talking about the potential Battle n Brew had. That was so exciting, and it was so nice to know I had a job I cared about, working with people who genuinely cared about me. Not everyone gets so lucky.
Brian: The guys at Riot Games and the guys at Hi-Rez are easily my two biggest supporters in regards to video game studios that saw what I was doing, i.e. video-game themed food, and said “That’s awesome”. The Hi-rez guys are local and will come in and say “Make me something insane” and then I go back and make German Style-bratwurst Nachos and four of them destroy the entire plate in seconds. The Riot guys saw me making food and posting about our bar and my food on their forums and thought it was so cool that they asked me to meet them personally at Dragon*con this past year when they had their panel. I got to hang out with them 2 days in a row and they were the nicest people. Both studios have really cool people that drive me to keep making great food.
Lastly, anything you’d like to add about the bar that might be a cool tidbit?
Gunnar: Yes: right now we are looking into ways to add a whole lot of things to the Battle n Brew experience, including serving liquor-based drinks (right now we can only serve beer and wine), increasing the number of consoles and PCs (meaning I can host League of Legends, HALO, and Call of Duty tournaments), and adding dozens of items to our food menu. Keep visiting us for more details!
Brian: Every day here is great and we really strive to make Battle & Brew a community and build friendships with our customers rather than just a bar you eat or drink at. We want to know people personally and be friends with them and I think that’s a big distinction. And if you think you can beat us in a game, then bring it on. We can’t guarantee ourselves a win, but I bet we can put up a fight(except me, I’ll beat you).
Where you can find Battle&Brew on the internet: