Labor Day weekend, I was in Savannah, Georgia for the weekend. It was not mere happenstance that this also happened to be the weekend of the Savannah Craft Brew Fest. My wife and I decided to attend the Saturday session and we were tremendously excited about the field of brewers at this festival.
The participating brewers represented national, regional and local brands. In this way, Savannah benefits largely from its proximity to North Carolina. Brewers like Highland Brewing and Duck Rabbit had quite a large presence. Georgia stalwarts such as Sweetwater and Terrapin as well as relative newcomer Wild Heaven Craft Beers also had a large presence and following. This festival is simply massive in scale and must be quite the undertaking to pull off. A small army of volunteers are utilized to do almost everything including pouring the beers. This is pretty common at a festival this large, but it was also a nice touch that each tent also had a representative from the brewery or distributor around to answer questions and provide information. I think this is a great formula for maximizing the number of people you can serve, while also providing timely and accurate information about the beer.
Savannah is an amazing city, with great hospitality, but it doesn’t exactly have the best craft beer scene, in fact, it is pretty lacking. This festival is helping to change that. In addition, there are two local breweries that are really working to change it as well. Savannah is home to the venerable Moon River Brewing and the newcomer, Coastal Empire Breer Co. which won a medal at the festival for it’s Savannah Brown Ale in 2011. I would also give a lot of credit to a bar in downtown Savannah called The Distillery. If you are a craft beer lover and you find yourself in Savannah, you simply must visit The Distellery. They have made it their mission to bring craft beer to the masses in Savannah and it is paying off. Two more craft beer bars (World of Beer and Temperance)are slated to open this year in downtown Savannah largely because this movement was started by the folks at The Distillery.
I encountered a few surprises at this festival, including a large presence by Crown Valley Brewing and Distilling from Ste. Genevieve, MO which has pushed its distribution in a southward direction to combat the current dearth of craft beer in the American South. The absolute most unique thing about this beer festival though…it is held at the Savannah Convention Center which is across the Savannah River from Downtown, so you actually arrive via ferry. This makes it the first and only beer festival I have attended where I arrived by boat. You can find out more information about the brewery lineup and how to buy tickets by checking out the festival’s website. Bottom line, if you happen to find yourself near Savannah on Labor Day weekend, don’t miss this festival!