THE SAVANNAH Craft Brew Fest brought significant attention and focus to the world of craft beer when it debuted in Savannah seven years ago. To build on the event's momentum, the local craft beer industry has steadily turned the days leading up to the Labor Day weekend festival into a true week-long celebration of craft beer.
To help promote those local happenings, the SAVCraftBeer.com website launched this year, providing a central home for all things Savannah Craft Beer Week.
While locals and tourists love the festival, the new site also highlights the local businesses that advocate for craft beer in Savannah every day of the year.
There are more than 30 events planned for the 2014 Savannah Craft Beer Week at venues throughout Savannah and Tybee Island. The scope varies from small, intimate tastings with single breweries to large-scale events that are sure to attract hundreds of beer enthusiasts.
Savannah Distillery Ale House—until recently called The Distillery—has been celebrating since the early years of the Fest by holding special events every night of the lead-in week. In the words of General Manager Julia Volen, their philosophy was “Why don’t we do it? We have people in town who love beer so why not?”
Formerly known simply as The Distillery, the restaurant’s plethora of taps will spend days celebrating sour ales, dark brews and high gravity beers. Their kick-off event is a tribute to beers brewed in Georgia.
“Last year we only had 14 taps that were available. This year we’ll have 21, which is awesome. Georgia breweries have expanded so much. Now, it’s insane and we’re getting awesome stuff,” said Volen.
The biggest event for Savannah Distillery Ale House every year is their Night of the Beer Geek, held on the Friday night before the Savannah Craft Brew Fest. Volen and her staff hold on to several highly sought-after kegs throughout the year and ask brewery representatives to send their best and most exotic beers to showcase experimental brews.
“It’s pretty special. The brewery reps really love our place and want to showcase the best they have to offer. They get excited and know we’re the place to go. We’re small, local and people know to come here for that night.”
Anyone who has ventured to Green Truck Pub knows that the locavore paradise —lauded for its grass-fed burgers and small but meticulously curated tap list—does not need to hold a special event to bring in business. Dozens fill wait queues to get tables on average week nights for good reason.
So when owner Joshua Yates scheduled four tap takeovers during Savannah Craft Beer Week, it wasn’t to revitalize slow week nights, but to celebrate one of his passions.
“We’re a small business, mom and pop, and it reflects what we want to do. It’s more to promote craft beer than Green Truck,” said Yates.
Yates is bringing in some of his favorite breweries to spotlight, including locals Southbound and Service. “The ‘Support Local’ mantra is across the board at Green Truck. We have great interpersonal relationships with the brewers.“
In addition, Green Truck Pub is holding events highlighting Athens, GA’s Terrapin and Bell’s, which is based in Michigan. Terrapin’s Tap Takeover will include a cask of Midnight Monk, a new beer yet to hit distribution. As to why he picked Bell’s, he had high praise. “We really like Bell’s. Two Hearted is an amazing IPA.”
And yes, dark beer fans, the highly touted Black Note will be available in bottles.
“We’ve been saving it for a rainy day,” Yates said. “It has an amazing mouthfeel and is very complex. It’s strong with so much going on. It just tastes special.”
For those not looking for the traditional bar experience, Liberty Street’s The Beer Growler allows you get exclusive beers and then take them home to enjoy in 32oz or 64oz containers. Store Manager Liz Williams describes what makes them different.
“We want to have events set up for people who didn’t want to have to commit to going out to a bar and spending several hours. We’ve designed it for people who have kids or have to get up early for a job can come and enjoy a wide variety of good craft beer, special beer and new releases.”
Like Savannah Distillery Ale House and Green Truck, The Beer Growler is also championing Georgia-brewed beer with the “A-Town Tag Team” promotion with giveaways and new brews from Atlanta’s Red Hare & Monday Night Brewing and their “Local Love” event, where a 15% discount is extended to fills from Savannah’s Southbound, Service, Coastal Empire, and Moon River breweries.
“It’s a lot easier to get a good beer in Savannah,” said Green Truck’s Yates. He adds that “having better access to higher quality” is a result from those who “go out and support events, take brewery tours and ask local watering holes and even gas stations for better selection.”