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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Talking Head: Will drive for beer

Looking to squeeze in one more beer-inspired road trip before the end of summer? Here are three events within a half-day drive in fun-to-visit cities.

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Southern Brewers Festival

Cruise up to Chattanooga next weekend for the Southern Brewers Festival on Sat., Aug. 22. Now in its 15th year, the Southern Brewers Festival brings brewers from throughout the Southeast and beyond to the downtown Chattanooga waterfront for a full day of music, food, and of course, beer. Proceeds benefit Chattanooga's Kids on the Block, a program that uses child-sized puppets to educate children about social differences and give them the skills to stay safe and healthy.

The participating brewers include all three of Georgia's microbreweries, as well as a number of breweries and brewpubs from Florida, Tennessee and North Carolina. Among the participants that do not distribute in Georgia are Foothills Brewing of Winston-Salem, NC, Boulevard Brewing of Kansas City, MO, and Yazoo Brewing of Nashville, TN.

The Southern Brewers Festival differs from many beer tasting events where participants pay a single admission price for unliited tastings. Instead, the $13 admission fee includes one token that can be exchanged for an 8-oz. sample from the nearly 30 brewers that will be represented. Additional tokens can be purchased for $3 each. Since the festival runs from 2 p.m.-12 a.m., there's no rush to slam back as many beers as possible in a short time frame in order to "get your money's worth." Relax, enjoy your generous sample of beer, listen to some tunes, eat some food from Big River Grill, and take in the Tennessee River and the beautiful vistas beyond.

Savannah Craft Brew Fest

Savannah's first and only beer festival (ok, except St. Patrick's Day) returns for its second year on Labor Day weekend (Sept. 4-5). The festival includes a beer dinner followed by dessert and fireworks on Friday night, an open tasting on Saturday, and a jazz beer brunch on Sunday, plus a golf tournament, a tasting class, and spa specials for detox. The beer dinner will feature Lowcountry cuisine paired with beers from Harpoon, Bell's, and Savannah's own Moon River brewpub. The Grand Tasting takes place from 1-7 p.m. on the Esplanade of Savannah International Trade & Convention Center, overlooking the Savannah River and downtown. Over 30 breweries will be represented, including Allagash, Dogfish Head, Full Sail, Highland, Lakefront, Oskar Blues, Stone, and Stoudt's. Tickets for the tasting are $35 in advance, $40 the day of the event. For details and information on other festival events, check out the official website.

Terrapin Back-to-School Bash

Finally, they probably won't be doing kegstands,  but things can get pretty lively at Terrapin Beer Company's Back-to-School Bash on Sat, Aug 22. Spike, John and the crew promise cask ales, reserve beers, live music and more to kick off your semester right. The party runs from 5-8 p.m. at the brewery on Newton Bridge Road in Athens.

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