IT’S THE most wonderful time of the year for hop fiends and malt aficionados as the Savannah Craft Brew Festival returns to the International Trade and Convention Center with a veritable army of breweries.
With over 60 breweries from around the world sharing over 150 different beers, the 8th annual festival promises to be the sudsiest one yet.
The festival is sponsored by Southbound Brewing Co. and Habersham Beverage and there will be a lot onsite for attendees to experience. I got a heads-up from Alex Colee of Red Mountain Entertainment, who is organizing the festival, about what to expect this year.
“We are always excited to have all of our Savannah breweries return: Southbound, Service, Coastal Empire, Moon River, as well as some other folks from the region,” says Colee.
“This year we have several newcomers to the Craft Brew Fest that we are very excited about: Second Self, Wrecking Bar, Carson’s, Humbolt, Florida Beer Co. and Duck Rabbit. I think we have a very well rounded group of breweries that everyone can enjoy!”
Samples are served in lovely little 2oz. souvenir glasses that may seem small, but really encourage visitors to try as many brews as possible. There are an overwhelming variety of lagers, ales and wheat beers to taste.
But there is one style that is particularly popular right now.
“In all our markets, not just Savannah, we see that IPAs are the big hitters,” explains Colee. “This year we have a great selection of IPAs, Double IPAs, Red IPAs, etc.”
Depending on your tastes or what you’d like to discover, there will be several indoor and outdoor beer gardens to visit. Besides the Import Garden and Cider Garden, the Mixology Garden is making a return.
“Since being introduced in 2013, this has become one of our favorite parts of the event,” exclaims Colee.
“This year the Mixology Garden is being presented by our friends over at World of Beer and their amazing bartenders will be mixing up some incredible beer cocktails, so make sure you check those out!”
If you’re feeling scholarly, you can attend the World of Sam Adams Brew University featuring three educational sessions to learn more about how some of their most popular beers are produced and enjoyed.
One class focuses on deconstructing signature IPAs made with hops from the 48th Latitude, also known as the “Hop Belt”. Afterwards, you can learn how to pair certain beers with your favorite desserts. For example, you can try Sam Adams October Fest with Crème Brule.
Finally, you can learn some German history while flexing your muscles in the October Fest inspired Stein Hoisting competition.
Sports and beer are practically inseparable. Some football obsessed participants may be hesitant to attend the festival on a college game day. Well, rest assured, you can have your game and your beer, too.
“Several great college football games will be on during the event and we’d hate for patrons to have to miss them, so we will be showing them on multiple TVs in our Savannah Craft Brew Fest Sports Bar,” says Colee.
For athletes, there is an official SCBF Cornhole Tournament, so if you have time before the festival, you should practice tossing the old beanbag in the back yard.
The winning team will take home a custom Harpoon UFO Cornhole board. Players can sign up by emailing their team name and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(My team name is the Seersucker Sacks, so that one’s taken.)
After you’ve loosened up from a few samples, you may want to shimmy over to the Silent Disco. For those unfamiliar with this otherworldly activity, it may appear that a large group of people are ecstatically twisting and strutting about for no good reason, but put on a pair of provided headphones and you’ll find yourself dancing in a private rave hidden in plain sight.
“It’s so much fun to watch someone dance to what looks like silence,” says Colee.
For live music everybody can hear, the band Souls Harbor will make another appearance this year with an acoustic set on the Screamin’ Sicilian Stage 1-5PM.
Souls Harbor have released 3 EPs and 2 full-length albums and have toured with notable bands such as Papa Roach, Filter, and Seether.
Grab a glass, take in the view of the river, and enjoy as many wonderful beers as you can.
BREW FEST FAQS:
Where can I park?
Attendees who plan to travel by vehicle to the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center have the convenience of ample onsite parking within close proximity to the main entrances. Parking fees are $5 per car per day; $7 per RV per day. A two minute complimentary ride from the Savannah Belles Ferry landing is a convenient connection to Savannah’s River Street and Historic District and a 20 minute drive from the Savannah International Airport via Interstate highways I-95 and l-16. You can of course ride your bike, but no bicycles inside the Trade Center—there will be bike parking outside the festival entrance.
Can I bring my own food and drink into the festival?
No outside food or beverages allowed, except pretzel necklaces!
What else can't I bring in?
Framed or large backpacks, glass containers of any kind, skateboards, picnic baskets, lawn furniture, tents, pro camera/video equipment, coolers.
Will food and non-alcoholic drinks be available for purchase?
Can I buy beer to take home?
No beer will be for sale at the festival. 2-ounce beer samples are the only alcoholic beverages available.
Who's allowed in?
Anyone 21 and older, with a valid I.D. Yes, everyone’s I.D. will be checked.
What if it rains?
The event is rain or shine, but takes place both indoors and outdoors.
Can I leave and come back?
There is no re-entry once you have entered the site.
Do I need tokens for beer?
No. All beer tastings are included with your ticket.
Can I bring my pet?
Sorry, only service dogs allowed.
And most importantly: Will some beer run out?
Possibly. All beers are subject to availability and popularity, so no guarantee that a beer will be available the entire session.