- Food and Cooking
5 Awesome Peach State Microbreweries
Brewing It Up in Georgia
Visiting microbreweries all around this great country of ours is on the bucket list of this old (well, kinda old) beer junkie, but for now I'm sticking around town and learning more about notable microbreweries in and around my city of Atlanta, Georgia. On this page I'm delving into just five of the many breweries that are located in Georgia, from Sweetwater in Atlanta to Jailhouse in Hampton. If visiting microbreweries is something you like to do as well, think about adding a couple of these to YOUR bucket list. Now, pop open a cold one and get your drink on!
Photo Credit: " 'Appley-Peach' by Matt" - via Creative Commons
Sweetwater Brewing Company
The very first ideas for what would become the great Sweetwater Brewery began in the early 1990s when Freddy Bensch and Kevin McNerney were roommates at the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO. The two wanted to get into the business of brewing beer and began their quest by washing out dirty kegs. After they finished school, they found themselves at the American Brewers Guild in California and starting to brew their own beer for breweries on the West Coast. The summer Olympics in Atlanta in 1996 brought Freddy to the city. He began thinking that Atlanta really needed some West Coast-style brews. Together, Freddy and Kevin began pinching their pennies and started a small brewery off of Fulton Industrial Boulevard in Atlanta's west side. They decided to name the brewery "Sweetwater" after Sweetwater Creek, where Freddy often enjoyed kayaking, and their motto became "Don't Float the Mainstream". February 17, 1997 marked the official beginning of Sweetwater Brewing Company. As the beers started to become more popular after a few years, Sweetwater was moved to its second and current location in Midtown Atlanta in 2004. Sweetwater is currently enjoying its new and huge expansion project that now has the capacity to brew 100,000 barrels of beer.
Public tours, which are really just like huge outdoor parties, operate on Wednesday-Friday from 5:30-7:30 pm, Saturdays from 2:30-4:30pm, and Sundays from 2:30-4:00pm. You will want to arrive very early for the tours and tastings because they are very popular around here and usually packed to the gills with very nice people ready to taste some excellent beer and just chill. Rides home are offered at a discount in case you need one. The gift shop is loaded with lots of Sweetwater garb, so be sure to check it out. Check out sweetwaterbrew.com for info about the company, the brews, upcoming event info, and to sign up for the newsletter. Sweetwater's Blog is an excellent source for news about the brewery, and you can follow Sweetwater on Twitter and Facebook as well.
Year-Round: Blue, IPA, 420, Georgia Brown, LowRYEder IPA
"Catch n Release": Happy Ending, Road Trip, Motorboat, Festive Ale, Waterkeeper Hefeweizen
"Dank Tank Series": Dank Tank, Crank Tank, Anniversary Ales 15, 16
What Is the Best Offering from Sweetwater?
Terrapin Beer Company
Terrapin's story begins with two guys named "Spike" and John who met when they worked together at a microbrewery in Atlanta and began setting their sights on brewing beer that was original and different from anything being brewed in the southeastern United States. In 2002, they introduced their first craft beer, Rye Pale Ale. It instantly became a hit and won the American Pale Ale Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival later that year. Around that time, Spike and John decided their headquarters should be located in Athens because both Athens and Terrapin feel strongly about great music, the environment, and living life to the fullest.
According to John's blog, Terrapin saw its best month ever in July 2013, selling over 4,000 barrels of beer. That can be thought of as over 8,000 kegs or over 120,000 gallons of beer, all in just one month! Currently, Terrapin boasts 43 full-time employees, over 30 part-time employees, and over 20 different beers being sold in ten states. Terrapin brews have won many awards and Jimmy Carbone of Beer Sessions Radio on Heritage Radio named Terrapin as one of the 25 best breweries in the United States. Public tours of the brewery are offered on Wednesday - Saturday from 5:30-7:30pm. There are also many charity fundraiser events, benefits, and festivals here throughout each year and at the gift shop you can score some Terrapin gear like hats, t-shirts, and koozies. Follow Terrapin on Twitter at @TerrapinTours and @TerrapinBeerCo. They are on Facebook as well. At the Terrapin Site you can learn more about the brewery and their beer and also sign up for the newsletter.
Year-round: Rye Pale Ale, Golden Ale, Hopsecutioner, Tree Hugger, Recreation Ale
Seasonal: Hopkarma, Moo-Hoo, Pumpkin Fest, Maggie's Farmhouse
Monster Beer Tour: Wake n Bake, Monk's Revenge, Hopzilla, Oaked Big Hoppy Monster
Terrapin also has many collaboration brews, special releases, and side projects - see the site for more info.
Red Brick Brewing Company
Red Brick Brewing Company, founded in 1993, was originally known as Atlanta Brewing Company and is the oldest operating brewery in Georgia. Its current location is off of Defoor Hills Road in Midtown Atlanta and it distributes to eight states within the Southeast. Its doors open for public tastings and tours Wednesday - Friday from 5-8pm and Saturday from 2-5. They have a Facebook group for you to follow and you can also visit redbrickbrewing.com for more information.
Red Brick Brews:
Year-Round: Hoplanta, Laughing Skull
Seasonal: Winter Seasonal Red Brick Porter, Red Brick Chocolate Cherry Porter, Spring Seasonal Red Brick Blonde Ale, Summer Seasonal Dog Days Ale, Fall Seasonal, Winter Seasonal
Limited Release: Brick Mason Series #5 - The Lost Years, Brick Mason Series #6 - Black-Eye Rye, Brick Mason Series #7 - 20th Anniversary Ale, Brick Mason Series #8 - Vanilla Gorilla
Jailhouse Brewing Company - Good Things Come in Small Packages
This small, up-and-coming brewery started in 2008 when its owner got his training at American Brewer's Guild and bought an old, run down jailhouse in which to house his brewery, Jailhouse Brewing Company. Renovation to the Old Hampton Jailhouse began in 2008 and Jailhouse began selling its craft beer in 2009. Only offered in Georgia at the moment, this tiny brewery is sure to be a hit in short order. Tour the brewery and taste the one-of-a-kind beers on "Lockdown Thursdays" from 5:30-8 and on "Visitation Saturdays" from 2-6. To read more info and join the mailing list, see Jailhouse's site.
Year-Round: Slammer Wheat, Misdemeanor Ale, Mugshot IPA, Breakout Stout
Seasonal: Saison Reprieve, Restraining Order Porter
Red Hare Brewing Company
Currently located on Delk Industrial Boulevard in Marietta, Georgia, Red Hare Brewing Company got its start in 2009 when Roger Davis first began thinking he might want to brew beer. He and his friend Buddy Thomas began brewing their own craft beer in Roger's basement and even came up with their own brewing system using water coolers, a big brew pot, and other various tools and hoses. They thought up recipes, brewed them up, and found that their beers were becoming quite popular amongst their friends. About a year later, Red Hare Brewing Company was born along with bigger dreams and a very convenient and much bigger brewing facility. In 2011, the brewery opened its doors to public tastings and tours and its beers were becoming more readily available in Marietta and the surrounding areas. Red Hare currently boasts an 11,000 square foot facility and many award-winning brews. The brewery was also the first craft beer brewery in Georgia to can their beer. You can tour the brewery and taste the delicious beers on Thursdays from 5:30-7:30, Fridays from 5:30-7:30, and on Saturdays from 2-4. Follow Red Hare on Facebook and on Twitter, and visit Redharebrewing.com for more information.
Red Hare Brews:
Year-Round: Long Day Lager, Gangway IPA, Watership Brown Ale
Fall Seasonal: Forbidden Fruit
Limited Edition: Coffee Cream Stout
Rabbit's Reserve Series: Chocolate Porter, Imperial Red IPA, Saison, Oktoberfest, Bitter Hearts Double Black IPA