Staff Photo: John Bohn A large pretzel adorns a food booth set up by the Village Corner German Restaurant at the second annual Blues and Brews Craft Beer Festival held Saturday in Grayson.
GRAYSON -- Paul Propes enjoys a glass of beer the same way other connoisseurs might choose a good cup of coffee or a fine cigar.
The Snellville man prefers smooth beer without a bitter aftertaste. He revels in discovering distinct and interesting flavors.
He thinks that far too many beers these days "taste like beer-flavored water."
Propes and hundreds more Saturday got to sample a wide range of beers, each brewed with distinctive qualities. The second annual Grayson Blues and Brews Festival featured musical performances and vendors from more than 50 breweries.
The beverage, which contains fermented sugars from grains like malted barley and wheat, was plentiful as Gwinnett County residents traversed a shaded Grayson City Park beneath a thicket of tall trees.
"I'm thankful for the shade," said Christopher Benner, a second-time attendee of the yearly festival. He said the event seems to have grown larger since its inaugural year.
He stood at the entrance shortly before the venue opened Saturday, glancing at the various tents and the many beverage vendors preparing for the event.
He hoped the festival would feature Bell's, a Michigan-based microbrewery.
Microbreweries, or craft brewers, are small businesses often known for innovative takes on the age-old recipe for beer.
In addition to the basic ingredients of malted barley and wheat, beer companies may add hops--or tiny flower clusters. Other flavor enhancers include herbs and fruit.
Mike "Tiny" McClannan said he enjoys many different microbreweries. He hoped to taste some old favorites Saturday as well as maybe find a new brand or two worth remembering.
It was a good day for a festival, he said.
"The weather's great, it's close to home and you don't have to fight that Atlanta traffic," McClannan said.
Event volunteer Ed Podsiad agreed.
"It sounded like a fun Saturday," he said. "A friend told us about it and we signed up to help out," he said, smiling. "That means free beer."
Volunteers like Podsiad assisted attendees as they entered the festival, tickets in hand.
Once inside the gate, Propes and hundreds of others traveled on foot from tent to tent, tiny tasting glasses in hand.
For Propes, choosing a glass of beer can vary from situation to situation.
"If I've been outside cutting grass and want something refreshing I might go for a lager," Propes said. "If I'm going out on the deck and relaxing I might drink something completely different."
Added Propes: "To me, nothing's better than a real craft-brewed beer."