Georgia fans have perfected the art of red and black Saturdays in Athens every fall. Tailgating is a fun precursor to a football game, but for those without parking passes or tickets, it can be a little tougher to find the right spot to cheer on their favorite team. Local breweries offer a great tailgating experience for those in need or for those who don’t want to commit to that much planning and effort for every game. Breweries have the beer, the space, and the entertainment. They allow outside food, and food trucks or restaurants are never far away. They have plenty of parking, and they’re happy to host football fans, families, and (friendly, leashed) dogs on football weekends in Athens.
By Kathleen Mansfield
The Classic City is fortunate to be home to three local breweries within minutes of downtown. Each brewery has a unique atmosphere, a tasty selection, and some of the friendliest people in town.
CREATURE COMFORTS BREWING COMPANY
The brewery behind the famed Tropicalia IPA made Athens its home in 2014 and has quickly become one of the most well-known breweries in the south. Creature Comforts established itself in a handsome historic building downtown that was originally built as a Chevrolet dealer in the 1940s and more recently housed Snow Tire Company. The building was remodeled to suit the brewery’s needs while maintaining its historical integrity and old wood from the site was refinished to accent the brewery’s tasting room. This reclaimed wood was Creature Comforts’ inspiration for another core brand, Reclaimed Rye Amber Ale.
Creature Comforts provide public tour hours Tuesday through Sunday. There, tour goers can enjoy beer samples inside or outside under tented shade during tour hours, and a weekly farmers market takes place on Wednesday afternoons April through November.
Tour prices vary depending on the level of tour chosen; onsite tours include a souvenir glass and up to 36 ounces of free samples at the tasting room, while to-go tours include a tour and up to 72 ounces of souvenir samples. In addition to the brewery’s year-round and seasonal offerings, Creature Comforts also brews limited release projects on its 30-barrel system, adding variety to the tasting room and souvenir offerings.
Football game weekends at Creature Comforts include live music, Saturday’s games shown on a projector, and fresh beer on tap. For information about special releases, events, or fell tour hours at Creature Comforts, please visit its website http://www.creaturecomfortsbeer.com/.
THE SOUTHERN BREWING COMPANY
“SBC,” as the brewery is fondly called, has had a strong following since it opened in 2015 just outside of downtown Athens, Built on 15 acres off Highway 29 South, the facility has an indoor tasting room with garage doors that open the tasting room up to a substantial outdoor area dotted with Adirondack chairs and picnic tables. Outside, tour visitors enjoy their beers around fire pits, under canopies, and while playing games like corn hole, Frisbee, and football. The brewery has multiple styles on tap inducting Porter, Saison, Berliner, and Sour to name a few
SBC’s public tours run Thursday through Saturday each week, but the brewery also books private events throughout the week. Tour prices depend on the desired level of the tour but can include a souvenir glass and up to 36 ounces of samples onsite, or up to 72 ounces to enjoy offsite.
The brewery is always tapping special releases, such as sours, band-aged beers, and collaborations with local home brewers or other breweries. One popular beer, Wild Azalea Saison, gives new meaning to the phrase “local ingredients;” it is brewed with wild yeast collected from the air on brewery property. Another flagship, Hobnail IPA, is a traditional IPA whose name is a reference to Larry Munson’s famous radio call from the Georgia- Tennessee game in 2001.
On football game days, SBC adjusts its hours for the football schedule to give fans a great game watching experience; Hobnail and other beers flow from its taps while several projectors show the action. For information about SBC’s special releases, fundraising events, or game day tour hours during football season, please visit its FaceBook page: @TheSouthemBrewingCompany.
TERRAPIN BEER COMPANY
In the early 2000s, craft beer was a new concept to many. Terrapin Beer Company was one of the first craft breweries in Georgia, the very first in Athens, and helped grow the craft beer industry we know and love. Its founders created the brewery in 2002 with flagship Rye Pale Ale, which remains a core brand today. Terrapin specializes in hoppy beers and stouts, but expertly brews all styles at its Newton Bridge Road production facility, which also boasts a spacious tasting room with bars, seating, and a stage as well as an inviting grassy back yard with room for tents, chairs, and all kinds of activities. Terrapin hosts many events in addition to its public tours Wednesday through Sunday; fundraisers, yoga, celebrations, and festivals take place throughout the year. For public tours, cost varies and can include a souvenir glass with up to 36 ounces of free “now” samples and up to 72 ounces of “later” sampling options.
Football season is a great time to tailgate with Terrapin. The brewery shows games during its regular tasting hours and provides live music and special releases on tap. Terrapin’s annual Hop Harvest festival in October will showcase the perennial release of its wet-hopped IPA, So Fresh and So Green, Green. A new “Side Project” release will be announced in the fall, while Moo Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout will return in the colder months. For more information about Terrapins fell tours, events, and releases, visit its website www.terrapinbeer.com.
New beer laws in Georgia means that tour hours and offerings will change on September 1st for breweries across the state. Look out for details regarding these changes in August! Another big change coming to the beer scene in Athens: Akademia Brewing Company and Pub is set to open, becoming the fifth brewery in Athens behind Creature Comforts, Southern Brewing, Terrapin, and brewpub Copper Creek. The fall of 2017 will be a wonderful time for a beer (and football) in the Classic City. Cheers!