To inform your voting in CHOW’s monthlong Best Brewpub in America Bracket, we’re throwing the spotlight on individual matchups.

What makes a brewpub great is more than the measure of its beers. It’s also food, vibe, and overall pubbishness. What do the experts—the beer-geek reviewers of BeerAdvocate—have to say about our bracket’s East Coast, North-South stare-down between Cambridge Brewing Co. in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Atlanta’s Wrecking Bar Brewpub?

Cambridge Brewing Co. has one major advantage over every other brewpub in America: Kendall Square. Hanging outside on a warm spring day in New England can lift anyone’s spirits. But sip a well-made barley wine as you watch the MIT geniuses and Harvard undergrads navigate the square, and it can make you wish spring would never end. The food’s cool, too, especially, writes BA reviewer kinopio, “since … they were one of the first places around here to focus on local ingredients.” Check out the specials board, where the local fish and cheeses are likely to appear. The beer, too, is the equivalent of just-picked. Fliunders57 says it’s “made almost every day and it’s always fresh.”

Meanwhile at Wrecking Bar, in Atlanta’s Little Five Points neighborhood, good beer and interesting food are only two elements in a pub whose main draw might be its massive ambiance. It makes BA reviewer coreyfmcdonald practically catch a whiff of barnyard, noting, “I get the feeling of an upscale rural locals bar (in a good way). Inside, there is lots of exposed stone and brick with lots of faded wood.” Meanwhile, mcrowther finds the restored-mansion surroundings “very cozy”—a nice place to sample the “creative cask beer” typically offered on Fridays, along with the rotating Wrecking Bar go-tos, “all so far … spot-on, style-wise.” Turns out the food is equally spot-on, notes Vierenner, especially the schweinshaxe (roasted ham hock), served with kale and poblano grits.

Ready? Go vote. Remember: This round ends soon, so don’t wait. And may the best brewpub prevail!

Photograph by Jennifer Yin / SF Beer Week

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