Brew Fest

An event attendee takes a beer sample from Wrecking Bar Brewpub on Saturday, August 29, 2021 at Hotel Indigo in Athens, Georgia. Over fifty cask ales were available for tasting during the afternoon event. (Photo/Katie Tucker ktucker@randb.com)

Georgia’s longest-running beer festival came back to Athens on Aug. 28 at Hotel Indigo. On this sunny day, Athens locals and beer lovers alike came together to celebrate over 52 different selections of pales, ales, sours and IPAs at the 25th anniversary of the Classic City Brew Fest.

This festival is focused on highlighting rare and special beers that brewers feel should be placed at the forefront of every beer lovers’ palate. With a particular emphasis on cask ales, many beers were carefully crafted through a process of secondary fermentation to create a flavorful craft beer.

Patrons swarmed the outside patio and parking deck of Hotel Indigo from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. with a souvenir sampler glass that could be filled at one of the many beer stations. Live music by local artist Jim Cook sounded through the tents, where local radio stations set up shop.

Beer Guys Radio, a nationally syndicated craft beer podcast and talk radio show, broadcasted live from the event. The podcast covers the world of craft beer with interviews, news and new brews.

“We’re based in Atlanta, actually Marietta, and we have been coming to this event for five or six years,” said Beer Guys Radio podcast co-host Tim Dennis. “We love all beers, but [have a] special place for Georgia beer because it’s our home state.”

Dennis and his co-host Brian Hewitt spent the majority of the day taste testing and speaking to brewery owners and beer crafters.

All six of the Athens breweries were present at the event. These included Terrapin Beer Co., The Southern Brewing Company, Creature Comforts Brewing Company, Athentic Brewing Co., Akademia Brewing Company and Normaltown Brewing Company.

The Classic City Brew Fest is one of the largest fundraisers for the Athens Area Humane Society. Every ticket purchased at the festival went towards supporting the no-kill shelter. This year’s festival sold out, an exciting comeback after the one year hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The selection of beers ranged from light pale ales to dark and rich stouts. Many of the brews were unique to the style of the brewery in which they were crafted. For instance, “The Queenswood Pub La Lucy” was created by The Brewer’s Friend as a tribute to a beloved Terrapin Beer Co., Chelsy Giles, an employee that died last month.

“‘La Lucy’ is the name of Chelsy’s cat, and Chelsy would have loved this imperial Gose ale almost as much as she loved her kitty,” read a pamphlet handed out at the event. “Chelsy would say, ‘This beer is worthy of a flower crown.’”

“La Lucy” was held in a cask, like the other 52 beers on tap, and was covered in a yellow sash and surrounded by baby’s breath flowers.

Athens locals and beer lovers were encouraged to volunteer at different tables. Each brewery was represented by either knowledgeable employees of the brewery itself or Classic City Brew Fest representatives, eager to point out their favorites.

Aside from the beers themselves, there were also tables offering beer accompaniments, such as sour mixes and tonics. The Georgia Cider Vinegar Company hosted a table lined with fresh ciders, wine vinegars and craft mixes.

“[These are] all living fermented vinegars, brewed with organic local fruit and wildcrafted medicinal herbs and spices,” said company owner Almeta Tulloss. “So you can use them in cocktails, mocktails and even sauces.”

The tasting of over 400 regional, national and world craft beers united Athenians to try, rank and appreciate the art that is brewing beer.