This past weekend it was my birthday and I saved the Athens Brewery Trail just for this special occasion. Terrapin has always been one of my favorite beers and I thought it would be a good choice for the birthday celebrations. Plus it’s not too far if friends wanted to come up and join us. We went with an Airbnb on the water with the most amazing view. It was in the perfect location and all of the places we visited were within 10 minutes.

After work on Friday we headed out to Athens to check out the town. In my entire 33 years I have never visited this incredible college town. I had been told so many times to visit and see the different bars and restaurants they have. If you don’t know Athens is home to Georgia University and is home of the Georgia Bulldogs. So around every corner is someone in red and black or a store that sells Georgia gear. Since the town loves their football I did do a quick check to make sure there was not a home game, just in case I didn’t want it to be too crowded in town so I could enjoy everything. I have plenty of friends who went to Georgia and am sure I will make it up for a game and to check out the town in a different light.

When we got to Athens that afternoon we stopped by our place and got settled and then went to our first stop Southern Brewing Company. They were doing an SBC Fundraiser for the Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support group at Athens Regional, and had on site registration for the 10k benefit run. The location was a nice size; however they could have used some additional parking with the size of their location. With the new beer laws here in GA I see them getting busier and having more people. When we walked in their facility is open and welcoming. They had live music and a decent sized lawn to play corn-hole and have other activities. Their staff behind the bar was so friendly and knew their beer. Since the new law I decided to go with a few samples of beer. I tried the Ironmaker Kolsch, Hobnail IPA, and Rye’d On Time. All of which were very flavorful and easy to drink. I would highly recommend them to anyone in the area.

Our second stop for the day was one that I was really looking forward to, but was severely disappointing, Creature Comforts. Over the past 3 years Creature Comforts has grown into a very well-known brewing in Georgia. It has a key location right in downtown with easy access to their location. Their staple beer that they can not make enough of, is the Tropicalia, American IPA. Now the reason everyone loves this IPA is because it is not too hoppy and it is an “easy drinking” IPA. I tried the Tropicalia a few months ago and was not impressed. I did not think it was a great IPA or even a great beer; however I do understand why people may like it. It is an IPA for someone who doesn’t actually like IPA’s and they can drink it and now they like an IPA. On to the rest of our visit, with the new laws you can now select a full pint pour for $5-$6 or a sampler 3oz pour for $2-$2.50. Since I like to give everything a try I did a 4 flight sampler.

 

And here is where it goes down hill. They had one beer on tap that was just called their seasonal and had no real description to it. When we asked the bartender what it was he couldn’t really describe it, so I asked for a sample sip to try before I spend more money. They refused to provide a small sample “sip” to determine if I wanted to buy a full glass or full sample. They advised they can not give out any beer for free. Now I have been to 100+ breweries and this is the first time someone has not been willing to let you see if you would even like the beer. Their excuse was the new beer laws and that you can not really know if you are going to like it unless you get more than a sip. To me this is just a way for them to make you have to pay more money to try everything. I was already spending $10 and just wanted to see if I wanted to shell out another $2.50 for a beer that had no description to it. To hide behind the beer law that just went into effect and be wasteful of people’s money or your own product is terrible. Here is my question for them, If I wanted to try a new beer and was a college student with little money and I ordered a beer for $5 and didn’t like it then what do you do with the beer? Is your answer is to have them buy the $2.50 sample first I would assume, but now that $5 beer is $7.50 and if they don’t like that one then they have to throw another $2.50 at it and now they are at $10 for 1 beer? This seems like a bad ploy to make more money when you could provide a quick sip, not a full sample, but a quick sip and then they would know if they could drink it or not. I can take one sip of a beer and know if it will be something I can drink a full one of or something I would just need a half pour.

Now sorry for my long-winded rant of this, but it really got to me that we have a new beer law in place and they are taking advantage of people. So now on to the beer portion of the visit. Creature Comforts does make some okay beer, but overall their beer seems like it is more for people who don’t like beer. Most of their beers while they had some good flavors seemed to be very watered down and light. It’s okay to have one or two like that, but you need some with more body and that pack a bit more of a flavor experience. In the end this brewery just felt like a step up from Bud, Miller, or PBR. It felt like a place that you can say you drink better beer but really it is close to the same level. *Beers tried: Fulcrum, Automatic, Reclaimed Rye, Athena.

For the final brewery of Friday night we stopped by Copper Creek Brewing, which happens to be the name of my neighborhood. This location is a brewpub and had a small selection of craft beer and some pretty amazing food. Their beers were full of flavor and so was their food. We had the Fire Spiced Beef Skewers and they were delicious and would recommend. We paired that with their flight of craft brews. We had the Gose, Hulk Smash Vol. 2, Amber Ale, and Finally! The Milk Stout. My favorite was of course the Hulk Smash being of the Hoppy nature and it has my favorite Mosaic Hops in it. The Milk Stout was like dessert and was a great way to finish off the meal and the night.  After all of this I needed sleep and to be ready for tomorrow.

On Saturday the original plan was to head over to Terrapin at 1pm to check out the brewery, since they were having their first ever fall festival at the brewery with food trucks, music, and vendors. However, I discovered using my nifty Brewery Explorer App that the Oconee Brewery was only 40 minutes south of us so of course I added that to the days festivities. We grabbed some breakfast and headed out to check out the little town in Greensboro, GA. We arrived a little early and did some exploring of the town where they have several little antique shops that were so fun to explore. The location for Oconee Brewing is just around the corner from Oconee Lake.  The brewery is located in what was once an old Cotton Mill and they have turned this location into one of the most stunning breweries I have ever been to. They have an event space that is to die for and their beer is pretty good too.

They offered some very great beer options, but my favorite part was that they figured out the new beer law and how to keep things moving. You purchase your pours up front and they provide you tickets for your drinks. This allows the bartenders to not get backed up ringing people up. It keeps the lines moving and you are able to drink more than one beer in a visit. I enjoyed the following beers Lion Lamm IPA, Three One Thousand – Habanero, Gran Dunkel, Bird in Barley, and their Saison. Their Three One Thousand – Habanero so named because it takes almost three seconds before the Habanero hits you, was a very smooth drink with just the right amount of heat in it. Overall I would definatly go back and would love to throw some type of event here one day.

Next on the list was the one I was looking forward to for months Terrapin. When we arrived there it was packed and the parking overflowed into a lot across the street. This was probably not the safest place for parking since it was like frogger to cross the street, and imagine when people start drinking more. When you walk into the building you enter on a large merchandise area and they can ring you up for swag or just get you stamped to drink. When the lady at the counter saw my ID she told me she had a suprise for me. Apparently on your birthday you get a glass and a free pour, needless to say that got me pretty excited. The next area you enter is where you get your beer and they have a pretty good set-up for stations to get beer, but again you have to pay at the bar so now the lines start to back up. We got some samples so we could determine what we wanted to have as our first beer. I went with the new Chopsecutioner which is aged on baseball bat chips as my free birthday beer.

We went outside to explore the festivities and see what vendors and food trucks were there. They had a taco truck, crepe truck, and a waffle station. They had over 20 vendors that sold a variety of items. They also had a large field with lots of seating and corn-hole. We had fun shopping and litening to the music, which was a DJ that was using records. This is where things got not bad, but long let’s say. It then took us another 25-30 minutes just to get  a beer. Both the inside and outside lines were very long and in the end we only stayed a bit longer and had one more beer since I didn’t want to spend the rest of my day in lines.  Unfortunalty the new law will take some locations a bit of getting used to and they will all find a way. As always though all the beer was amazing.

 

Atmosphere = A | Beer = B |  hopshopshopshopshops |

 

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