With the College Football Championship set for the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta Monday night, I thought I’d get in the spirit with some Georgia beers for at-home tailgating.
Georgia’s largest brewery is the SweetWater Brewing Co. Its brews are ubiquitous in our area, easily found in both bars and grocery store aisles, but because all SweetWater beers are unpasteurized, they are only available here in the Southeast. Best known for its 420 Extra Pale Ale, a really nice lighter ale — not too hoppy, with some fruit flavors in the finish — SweetWater is Georgia’s second-oldest brewery, founded in Atlanta in 1997. Like a number of its beers, the 420 is bottle conditioned, which also gives it a nice head.
SweetWater puts out a half-dozen year-round beers, including three different IPAs: Its regular IPA, a bit bitter; its “Goin’ Coastal,” with pineapple flavors; and its “Hop Hash,” which sounds as if it would be very strong but is actually more of a session IPA, not overpowering and only 4.2 percent alcohol by volume (ABV).
One of SweetWater’s most unique and popular beers is its “Blue,” a wheat ale with blueberry flavorings. For some reason, I find the SweetWater Blue on tap is much better than out of the bottle, which has too much blueberry flavor.
If you happen to be in Atlanta for the game and want to check out the SweetWater Brewery, its taproom is open Wednesday through Sunday, and for $8 you can take a tour and taste some samples.
Just north of Atlanta in Alpharetta, is Jekyll Brewing, named for the Golden Isle off Georgia’s Atlantic Coast where the South’s first brewery was reportedly founded all the way back in 1738. Jekyll’s “Cooter Brown” is probably its most familiar brew, a smooth but surprisingly strong brown ale, but Jekyll offers a fairly wide variety of year-round beers, including a lager, an amber and three IPAs.
I recently sampled Jekyll’s “Big Creek,” a light Kolsch, which is really nice — light, crisp and flavorful with hints of fruit. If you are tired of too many hops, this is a nice change of pace.
Only about an hour and a half from Mercedes-Benz Stadium (or four hours, depending on Atlanta traffic) is Sanford Stadium, home of the Georgia Bulldogs. Athens is not only home to the University of Georgia, but also to Terrapin Beer Co. (which one would expect to find in College Park, Maryland, not Georgia, but whatever).
Best known for its excellent (and, at 7.3 percent ABV, strong enough to knock you down) “Hopsecutioner IPA,” Terrapin puts out a wide variety of different styles, both year-round and seasonal, including a number of IPAs of different strengths and flavors.
While previously hard to find in our area outside of bars that carried a large number of craft beers, Terrapin is now much more widely distributed and many of its styles can be found in retail stores. I recently tried its “Hi-5 IPA,” touted as a California-style IPA. I found it to be a good, strong, hoppy IPA, and at 5.9 percent ABV a bit more manageable than the Hopsecutioner. I’ll get this one again soon.
So if you can’t go to the game, take out some Chick-fil-A, grab a couple of Georgia beers from your favorite store and sit back and enjoy!
(Photo | Facebook) Jekyll Brewing in Alpharetta, Georgia — 30 minutes north of Atlanta — has 26 different beers on tap every day.