Last Wednesday, as drinkers all over the state were celebrating one small step for craft beer producers, Three Taverns Brewery casually dropped a Georgia beer news bomb: the Decatur brewery had taken over the SweetWater Brewing Company Draft House & Grill at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (South terminal, Concourse A).
Three Taverns brewmaster and CEO Brian Purcell still sounded a little dumbfounded on Thursday, answering many of my questions with a grinning "I don't know." He wasn't being coy, though. Chalk it up to the fact that an airport location is new ground for Three Taverns, and, indeed, any Georgia brewery that isn't SweetWater.
"This isn't, like, some back room work that's been going on for months," he said as we watched patrons take home Three Taverns bombers, 4-packs, and growlers for the first time in Georgia history. In fact, he says, the entire negotiation process only took a couple months, and the space was rebranded from SweetWater to Three Taverns in a single night. "I have no freaking clue. It's almost like I woke up one day and we have this bar in the airport."
When I sat down at Wrecking Bar with HOToberFest co-founders Alan Raines and Tryon Rosser last May, they sounded a little disillusioned.
"It's virtually impossible to hit a Saturday where there's not a beer festival," Raines told me. "If you stretch 'em out and don't duplicate 'em, there's a festival about every four days within 25 miles of downtown. We have more beer festivals than any city in the country."
When Raines and Rosser started HOToberFest in 2008, there weren't many festivals like it in the area. But in the years since, as beer culture has advanced, so to have the festivals. Priding themselves on doing something unique, the pair decided to take a year off from what can only be described as one of Atlanta's best beer events.
The event will be reborn as HOToberFest Barrel Aged Ball on Sun., Aug. 16 from 2 to 8 p.m. at downtown Atlanta's Georgia Freight Depot. (The location, it should be pointed out, is wildly convenient to MARTA.) Tickets, which go on sale June 9 via HOToberFest and Xorbia, will be $85 apiece. Only 350 will be sold.
Well, that's a much different photo than the last time Creative Loafing wrote about Governor Deal and beer.
Tuesday morning, Deal signed into law Senate Bill 63, the piece of legislation initially introduced as the Beer Jobs Bill. Representatives from the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, along with one of their lobbyists and a couple of their attorneys, were on hand for the photo opp, which was mostly that—a PR moment for Georgia's governor to pay lip service to Georgia's small business beer makers after taking money from Georgia's well-heeled alcohol wholesalers.
Meanwhile, the Georgia Department of Revenue still has to publish its regulations pertaining to the bill's changes, which in itself is a confusing and not-very-transparent process that nevertheless determines how the law will be interpreted. SB 63's changes become law on July 1, at which point breweries can change up their tours depending on the DOR's regulations.
Here’s the rundown:
In late March, the Atlanta Hawks — who are heading to the playoffs for the
NBA-Eastern-Conference-record eighth time in a row, OH HELL YES GO TEAM! — unveiled the Atlanta Brews craft beer stand in the "Hawk Walk" section of Philips Arena outside Portal 5. What this means for you, if you're at least 21 and enjoy drinking local beer at sporting events, is the availability of seven Georgia breweries just steps away from that Hawks hardwood. Do we call it "hardwood," even? Listen, folks, I write about beer, not sports. Let's just forget this ever happened and move along, OK?
Fresh off an Atlanta can release Monday night, Athens' Creature Comforts Brewing Co. is preparing to celebrate its one year anniversary. On April 25, from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., attendees can pay $25 for “sexy, collaborative stemware” into which they can pour a selection of 18 different Creature Comforts beers.
It's been an interesting year for the young company.
The brewery trained its staff to become Cicerone certified, brought a Great American Beer Festival medal back to Georgia, made a number of delicious, hard-to-find beers, doubled its fermentation capacity, and also found time to fight for better beer laws. In a mere eight months, Creature Comforts became one of Georgia's top 10 craft breweries by production.
"The most important thing we've accomplished in my eyes has been winning over the hearts and minds of the people who love to drink our beer and visit our brewery," co-brewmaster Adam Beauchamp says. "We set out with the ambitious goal of giving people something they can truly connect with and get behind. We've tried to be true to ourselves and infuse everything we do with authenticity. I think we've been able to communicate that with our beer and our brand fairly well."
With the exception of Georgia's two biggest, SweetWater Brewing Company and Terrapin Beer Company, none of the state's breweries publish their production numbers publicly, perhaps because they're all pretty small, relatively speaking. This isn't an insult — it's just the truth. And for that matter, big certainly doesn't always mean good.
But for a little perspective, Georgia's second biggest brewery, Terrapin, made 46,207 BBLs (barrels, which are 31 gallons each) of beer last year, but didn't crack the national top 50. Georgia's third biggest, Red Brick Brewing Company, made 10,000 BBLs. It's also worth remembering that while the country has a top 50, Georgia doesn't even have 50 breweries period. Not yet, that is. Anyway, for the other eight of Georgia's top 10, I emailed breweries and asked for their numbers.
Update: SB 63 passed through Regulated Industries on Tuesday afternoon with no changes. On Thursday, the Rules Committee assigned the bill to a Friday House floor vote, time to be determined.
On the heels of an impassioned blog post from Creature Comforts Brewing Co. published Monday morning and a last-minute call to action from the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, Senate Bill 63 began its journey through the Georgia House of Representatives with a Regulated Industries committee hearing Monday afternoon. This is the first of three steps in the House process following the bill's passing in the Senate March 13. If it passes today's 2 p.m. Regulated Industries Committee vote, it's off to the Rules Committee and then potentially a House floor vote.
"We are frustrated, saddened, disgusted, and annoyed by what we have seen and witnessed over the last couple of months," read a Monday morning Creature Comforts blog post that went live just a few hours before the hearing. "We are hopeful at the same time, because there are people fighting to do what is right in the face of extremely powerful political pressures, and we are grateful for them ... We ask for your support in asking the House to #FixTheBeerJobsBill. We will not achieve this without the unwavering support of the people and press who support us."
Last week, representatives from Three Taverns Brewery did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) Q&A session with Atlanta beer subreddit, ATLbeer. As fans peppered them with questions about homebrewing, churches, and the Clermont Lounge, Three Taverns brewmaster and CEO Brian Purcell, head brewer Joran Van Ginderachter, and "beer emissary" Jarrett Walker revealed a handful of new beer releases.
Here's the rundown:
Tickets are $65, and Sierra Nevada plans to sell 2,000 of them.
“Northern California winters weren’t like this, so we’re embracing them with a festival that’s all about bold beers to warm you up," Sierra Nevada Communications Manager Ryan Arnold tells Creative Loafing. "We have a great lineup of brewers from across the country bringing some knockouts.”
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