ENJOYING SAVANNAH’S CRAFT BREW SCENE
This weekend Savannah hosted thousands of visitors for it’s annual Craft Brew Fest. Although the dozens of craft breweries and ale aficionados have packed up their convention gear and headed back to their respective homes, Savannah’s craft brew scene doesn’t just crawl into a hole and hide until next year.
Savannah, sometimes called the “Toast-Us City” as a play on its long-held distinction as the Hostess City, continues to build momentum in the craft beer industry with a new production brewery opening in 2014 (Service Brewery) and two more slated to debut in late 2014. Here’s how to soak in all the suds Savannah has to offer in one weekend while keeping your wits about you. Thankfully, Savannah’s to-go cup freedom means you’ll never have to chug a brew before heading to the next establishment, so you can savor every last drop as you stroll on the cobblestones and under the Spanish-mossed live oaks. You and your beau or group of friends will be Savannah beer experts by the time you head home!
Savannah is a bike-friendly destination, even boasting a city-sponsored bike share program. So, why not pedal around sampling a few beers along the way? Parking can be a pain in Savannah . . . especially March through July . . . so biking is a good way to enjoy the beautiful sites in between suds.
Lunch: Begin your Savannah beer adventure at the best burger joint in town—Green Truck Pub. This farm-to-table spot treats both food and beer with equal respect, rotating Georgia-made and unique brews constantly plus housing an impressive bottle list considering the limited square footage of this tiny neighborhood eatery. Check their website and social media for frequent beer events, too. Of course, you can always take our five-star rated food tours and enjoy beers as you go, too.
Happy Hour: Next, head to Moon River Brewing Company, a brewpub home to Savannah’s only true beer garden—great for enjoying Savannah’s Southern climate year-round. Take your time sampling their house brews by opting for a flight of each of their current house offerings, typically between 6 and 9 choices. Play a little Bean Bag Toss in the beer garden before heading to a surprising beer haven, Jen’s & Friends. Don’t be distracted by their humungous specialty martini list; this pint-size destination offers up quite a bottled beer selection.
Dinner: Beer drinking drives an appetite, and what better place is there to get your sustenance than The Bier Haus, Savannah’s only German/Belgian restaurant? They have three flight options—German, Belgian, and International—along with specialty casks tapped every Wednesday. These folks refuse to have a freezer on-site, so the hand-cased, inventive sausages and four varieties of saucy schnitzels are super fresh. Ask them for recommendations if you decide to go for their 4-liter boot option (they know their stuff!).
So you’ve paired your food with beer; now it’s time to pair your beer with music at World of Beer. If you’ve never been to one of these beer bars with 500+ options, they can be a little overwhelming. So, tell your bartender what you like and ask them to create a flight around your palate. Savannah’s World of Beer has live music most Friday and Saturday nights, plus a human-sized Jenga when the stage isn’t in use.
Save your brunch for for Sunday! You’ll want to start your Saturday off with a savory scone and incredible coffee at the brand new Collins Quarter Cafe and then make your way over to Savannah Taste Experience’s First Squares Food Tour for a delicious 3-hour tour, where 2 of the stops on the tour include Molly MacPherson’s Scottish Pub (where you can pick up where you left off the night before by grabbing some Scottish beer, like Belhaven) and B&D Burgers, which has a mind-bending number of American craft brews on tap, including local brews such as Southbound (Savannah, GA), Terrepin (Athens, GA), and Sweetwater (Atlanta, GA).
Pit Stop: Stop at the historic Colonial Park Cemetery. Note that some of the headstones have wonky dates—soldiers stationed in Savannah were known to get a little, um, mischievous. This cemetery is also a regular stop on many haunted tours with plenty of stories to spook you.
Brewery Tour: Visit Savannah’s only production brewery, Southbound Brewing Company, for an educational tour and some samples. Tours are from 2-4pm and Saturdays usually include live music and two Bean Bag Toss setups. For $10, you get a souvenir cup and 6 drink tickets so you can try each brew, like their award-winning Moonlight Drive coffee beer. Check Coastal Empire Beer Co. and Service Brewing pages before your visit, as they may be open when you come on your Savannah beercation.
Dinner: Tonight, enjoy throwback Savannah at the Crystal Beer Parlor. This rumored former speakeasy is a locals ‘ favorite for meals with its giant menu and wide-ranging beer list. The red vinyl booths, black-and-white photos and neon beer signage will transport you back a few decades, not to mention their “Beers of Our Fathers” menu. On it you’ll see plenty of hard-to-find-elsewhere classics like Ballantine XXX, Stroh’s and Dixie. But never fear craft beer lovers; they have plenty of fine options on draft and in bottles, too.
Dessert: Time to visit Savannah’s first true craft beer bar—no Miller or Bud here!— The Distillery. The owners helped drag Savannah into the craft beer revolution when they opened in 2008 on the heels of Savannah’s premier beer event, the Savannah Craft Brew Fest. Again, go for a flight—pick your own or have the bartender surprise you—and pair it with their gigantic fried moon pie. Decadence!
Haunted pub crawls are one of the top activities in Savannah and they allow visitors to take full advantage of our city’s liberal to-go cup policy. While beer isn’t the focus on these crawls, most all of the pubs en route have quality beers on hand—a given to survive in this budding craft beer destination!
Brunch: If you need a break from beer, head to Ampersand for their tasty menu alongside their Bloody Mary and mimosas bar. But don’t leave before trying one of their nearly 50 craft brews on hand with a nice variety to boot.
Growler Stop: Before leaving Savannah, stop by The Beer Growler to take home your new favorite Lowcountry brew, or discover a new-to-you beer. They let you sample a few before filling up your growler, and you’ll likely find a growler store near your hometown where you can reuse it later. Take it to one of Savannah’s 22 squares for your own beer picnic (bring plastic cups!) to end your Savannah beer adventure.