SPRINGTIME in Savannah is ushered in with a few constants: The hazy thrill of the Saint Patrick's Day parade, the explosion of azalea blooms throughout our squares and cemeteries, and the sudden switch from coats and corduroys to tank tops and short shorts.
With the continued growth of our local craft beer scene, it’s time to add another item to that esteemed list of springtime signifiers: new beer releases!
All four of Savannah’s breweries have new products for you to enjoy throughout March. These highlights are must-try beverages that will help you celebrate the season.
Rollin' & Tumblin'
India Pale Ale
Southbound Brewing Co.
Southbound’s Hoplin’ IPA is a standout in their main line, and March welcomes a second India Pale Ale to join in the fun. The brand new Rollin’ & Tumblin’ is a collaboration beer with the Savannah Music Festival. The involvement of the festival is more than a simple branding tie-in. SMF Executive & Artistic Director Rob Gibson and Marketing and Management Director Ryan McMaken worked closely with brewer Smith Mathews and his team from concept to final product.
“As an amateur homebrewer, this was a highlight of 2014 for me,” said Ryan. He described the beer as having “a very flavorful straw-colored malt bill, modest bittering, and a slightly piney, tropical fruit hop aroma using azacca hops.”
The beer will be available on draft at venues, bars and restaurants around Savannah during the festival, which takes place March 19-April 4. A distinctive blue fiddlehead tap handle will make it easy to spot. Southbound will also be canning the beer for distribution to package stores.
India Pale Ale
Coastal Empire Beer Co.
Hop heads will have another locally-brewed IPA choice this month as Coastal Empire debuts Inshore Slam. The label art boasts it as an “aggressively hopped” sipper, clocking in at 75 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). Co-founder Chris Haborak says that despite the overall quantity of hops, the beer is still balanced and drinkable.
“The aromas and flavors of the hops are a balance of melon, citrus, spicy and a little funky hop notes to boot,” explains Chris. “The balance provides a intense hop flavor without a overpowering hop bite. It also has a nice malt backbone that stands up to the hops.”
The initial draft rollout of Inshore Slam will be to local restaurants, bars and growler stores at the end of the month.
Biere de Garde
Service Brewing Co.
Service has been on a winning streak with its smaller-batch seasonal releases. Winter’s terrific Lincoln’s Gift oyster stout is being followed up with the complex and lip-smacking Old Guard, an ale crafted in the French farmhouse tradition.
Old Guard is based on a “R&D” batch tested in the brewery’s tap room, which used honey from Service’s Creative Marketing Director Meredith Sutton’s apiary. This wider-release production version instead includes Savannah Bee Company’s Yaupon honey, a whopping 180 pounds worth in total.
But don’t feel bad for Meredith’s bees. The fermentation yeast used in Old Guard was collected by SouthYeast Labs from that very same apiary. Pulled from honey comb and pollen, brewer Jeff Hyatt described the yeast’s characteristics as “Incredible. I’ve never tasted anything like it. Bubblegum, a clove-like spice are just two things that jump out at you. There’s a little woodsy funkiness going on and floral notes, too.”
Old Guard will be released on draft and limited to only one thousand 22-oz. large-format bottles.
Moon River Brewing Co.
Frequent patrons of Moon River will know that their Foras saison was actually released last year; but be assured this year’s Foras is the same in name only.
“We call it the same thing,” brewer Aaron Deist confirmed. “We have a small barrel aging program... and once a year we empty those barrels out and refill them with a new beer.”
A blend of five barrel-aged saisons along with one barrel containing Super Foxy double IPA, Foras manages to be tart and edgy without losing the easy drinkability of the original ales. The additional step of dry-hopping the blend unifies the batch into a unique entity.
Wild brettanomyces yeast adds a distinctive twang to Foras which is a welcome addition to Moon River’s beer garden taps and is available right now.