Achtung! German Bierfest this weekend 

Plus Southern Brewers Festival in Chattanooga

Two sure signs that autumn is approaching are Oktoberfest beers on store shelves and the arrival of the German Bierfest Sat., Aug. 23, 2-8 p.m., at Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta. But make no mistake, the festival sponsored by the German-American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern United States is not an Oktoberfest celebration. "No one's going to run around in lederhosen, there's not an oompa band," says GACC South's PR Director Stefanie Jehlitschka. "It's really more about the beer and its traditions. We are aware that if it is an all-you-can-drink event, some people are not going to be interested in the culture or where the beer comes from, but we try to focus on that."

The main mission of GACC South is to help German businesses import, market and sell their products in America, but like any good trade organization, they sponsor their share of parties. The German Bierfest, now in its fifth year, is the largest of these and approximately 4,000 attendees are expected. The festival relocated this year from Atlantic Station to provide fest-goers with more room, shade and grass. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the gate, and entitle you to a tasting glass and unlimited samples of more than 30 different beers from more than 20 German breweries.

The festival is family-friendly, and non-drinkers are admitted free. There will be music from the band Justin, a Kids Zone, raffles, information booths, and food vendors in addition to all the beer. For more information and to purchase advance tickets go to www.germanbierfest.com.

If you are feeling like a road trip, this Saturday is also the Southern Brewers Festival in Chattanooga. Twenty-one breweries from throughout the Southeast and beyond will be presenting their wares from 2 p.m.-midnight on the Chattanooga Riverfront. Participating breweries include locals Big River Grille & Brewing Works, Moccasin Bend Brewing Company, and the Barley Mob Homebrewers Club, as well as Foothills Brewing Company from Winston-Salem, N.C., Yazoo Brewing Company from Nashville, Highland Brewing Company from Asheville, N.C., and A1A Ale Works from St. Augustine, Fla. Georgia's brewing community will be well represented by Terrapin, Sweetwater, Atlanta Brewing Company, Rock Bottom, Gordon Biersch, and Moon River (Savannah). Tickets are $13 in advance, $15 at the gate, and include a commemorative mug and one token for beer. Additional tokens are $3.

The Southern Brewers Festival always features great music, and this year is no exception, with neo-swingers the Cherry Poppin' Daddies headlining, along with the Stratoblasters and Pat McLaughlin. Kids are welcome at the festival, and those under 12 are free. Proceeds from the event benefit Chattanooga's Kids on the Block, an educational puppetry organization.

jeff.holland@creativeloafing.com

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