Craft beer has taken the country (and Athens) by storm, gaining ground against the bland monotony of the corporate behemoths that had dominated the industry until very recently. In 2012, just two companies—Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors—controlled almost 90 percent of the domestic beer market. But by 2018, craft beer had doubled in market share from 12% to 24%, with thousands of microbreweries and brewpubs opening up across the country.
These beers are made in a wide variety of styles, often by very small local businesses that are somehow able to compete against the titans of industry and their multi-million dollar ad campaigns. Craft beer is a remarkable success story. It shows that a commitment to quality and innovation can sometimes pay off.
In Athens, the revolution began with the founding of Terrapin in 2002, but shows no signs of slowing down in 2020. Two new microbreweries are opening up this year, giving local beer connoisseurs more choices than ever.
Athentic Brewing, located on Park Avenue in Normaltown, plans to open later this month for service at socially distanced tables that are frequently sanitized. But they’ve already started curbside pickup, with a limited number of bottles available each week. Depending on availability, you’ll be able to pick from a variety of brews, including Amour de Ferme (6.3% alcohol by volume), a saison; Perfect Number (4.8% ABV), a coffee brown ale; Sunshine (5.9% ABV), a wheat beer, and also Sister (5.6% ABV), a pale ale.
Other offerings include a juicy IPA, dry Irish stout, pilsner and a double IPA for those who appreciate the hoppier side of microbrew.
On the other side of the Boulevard neighborhood, you can find Normaltown Brewing, hidden in the same warehouse complex as the Cotton Press and Canopy. Normaltown is a “nanobrewery,” producing very small, carefully-crafted batches. They aren’t currently bottling for distribution, but according to co-founder Scott Fortson, they might start as early as next year.
Right now, they’re open for in-person tasting on Fridays and Saturdays, and occasionally on weekdays as well. They also sell 32-ounce crowlers to go. If you don’t know, crowlers are large, machine-sealed aluminum cans that can keep beer fresher for longer when compared to a more traditional glass growler.
So what should you fill your crowler with this week? Fortson recommends Elder Masters (8.9% ABV), a West Coast double IPA that is his favorite, but he notes that Normaltown’s specialty are hazy, New England-style IPAs like Electric Mist (7.5% ABV). They might also have some of their coffee stout, Lazarus Ascending (8.4% ABV), which you can get in hazelnut vanilla and toasted coconut varieties. A new strawberry lime kettle sour is also in the works and should be available as you read this.
The brewery that started it all is currently open for curbside pickup. You can order beer before 2 p.m. for same-day pickup. Terrapin is working on plans to reopen for in-person visits, but they have not yet set a date.
“Our production area is in close proximity to our tasting room, so we’re prioritizing safety over speed,” marketing manager Leah Keggi told Flagpole.
In addition to classics like Hopsecutioner, Terrapin has several new beers available. First, they’ve got Frenchy’s Blues (5% ABV), a Berliner Weisse brewed with blueberries in collaboration with former Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur. That’s available in six-packs. They’ve also got Black is Beautiful (7% ABV), a stout with notes of cocoa and coffee, available in crowlers. Making it an even more tempting choice, Terrapin will donate 100 percent of the proceeds from Black is Beautiful to the Georgia ACLU.
Finally, Terrapin will release Peach Dreamsicle (7.89% ABV), a “peaches and cream” Imperial IPA, in cans this month.
Southern Brewing is open Wednesday through Sunday, with outdoor seating only for now. They’ve got five acres, so you can spread out and get comfortable under the tents as you enjoy the huge number of different beers Southern has on tap (from 25–32 choices, depending on the day). But remember to bring a mask—they require them inside, while you’re making your selection.
You can also get takeout. They’ve got six-packs for sale, including Hobnail IPA, a citrusy American-style IPA (6.5% ABV); 7:00 AM, a light and balanced lager (4.2% ABV); Fog Machine, a hazy, New England-style IPA (6% ABV); and Red and Black, a Berliner Weisse aged on raspberries and blackberries (4.5% ABV). They’ve got growlers, too, so you can take anything on tap home with you.
Southern releases a new beer every Friday, making it even harder to choose which one to get next. Usually, it’s a variant on an existing brew, but this month they released a brand new one, United Pale Ale (4.7% ABV). It’s an easygoing, citrusy American pale that sounds perfect for a hot summer day.
Akademia, out on Atlanta Highway, is open seven days a week for dine-in—outside on the patio and inside in the dining room. There’s even a large space you can rent for private events.
They’ve got a number of new beers you might want to check out, including Choose The Sword (4.8% ABV), which is a Berliner Weisse brewed with ginger and pears. Send Your Ninja (4.8% ABV) is another Berliner Weisse with Sudachi, a Japanese citrus. Finally, they’ve got the intriguing new offering Mountains of Madness, which is a double IPA with Hallertau hops and an experimental hop that’s the product of Sabro hops and open pollination.
Akademia’s building is fairly large, so it’s easy to keep tables six feet or more apart. If you’d rather get your beer to go, they’ve got four-packs of Mountains of Madness, Hoprodisiac (a hazy Imperial IPA, 8.2% ABV) and 2XIQ (a citrusy, New England-style double IPA, 7.8% ABV) for sale right now. You can also fill up a 32-ounce crowler with anything on tap, to enjoy later.
Creature Comforts has reopened its taproom with limited seating outside on a first-come, first-served basis. You’ll be served right at your table, but party size is limited to eight, and masks are required when not seated.
While there, you’ll get to pick from all your old favorites—like Classic City Lager, an easy-drinking lager (4.2% ABV); Tropicalia, a juicy IPA with passion fruit (6.6% ABV); and Athena, a light Berliner Weisse (4.5% ABV)—plus some new options. Automatic (5.5% ABV), a pale ale, is now offered year-round. They’ve also got the completely new Athena Painkiller (4.5% ABV), a tropical-inspired Berliner Weisse available on tap and in four-packs you can take home with you.
As always, Creature Comforts has a large selection of special offerings sold in bottles, which now includes Gaucho de la Playa (12.4% ABV), a limited-release imperial stout with coconut and dulce de leche. You can get it or any of their other beers at their drive-through, which is still open 1–6 p.m. six days a week (not including Saturday).
Enjoy—with safety and moderation, of course!
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