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Craft beer's visibility is continuing to rise in Savannah, from the launch of new brewery Service later this month to the expansion of regional brewers Eagle Creek, whose cans are appearing on store shelves now.
To help make sense of it all, here are some recent highlights culled from the Georgia beer scene.
Service Brewing Makes Its Debut
It’s been a long time coming; but things have moved quickly in the last few weeks for Service Brewing Co., Savannah’s newest production brewery. Its Indian Street location has seen the installation of the brewhouse and the interior is getting the final decorative touches. Most importantly, CEO Kevin Ryan and his team are ready to share the liquid fruits of their labor.
On Saturday, July 24 Service is holding its launch party at The American Legion Post 135 on Bull Street off Forsyth Park. It’s a fitting location for a brewery started by retired Army veterans with a focus on giving back to service-related charities. A portion of the event’s proceeds will benefit Honor Flight Savannah and the 200 Club. The launch beers will be brewery staples Ground Pounder Pale Ale and Compass Rose IPA as well as a special-release pecan and apricot pale ale.
In the most recent episode of the Brew / Drink / Run podcast (available on iTunes, Stitcher or at brewdrinkrun.com), Ryan describes the special nut and fruit ale as “trying to incorporate things that are a part of Georgia and keeping local ingredients. I think people will really enjoy it.”
Ryan also said that following the launch event, locals can expect to find Service’s beers on draft and in cans around Savannah, and the tasting room in the brewery is expected to open following the Savannah Craft Brew Fest on Labor Day weekend.
Terrapin Unleashes Guano Loco
The name of this beer correctly conveys the response from many beer drinkers when they hear the inspiration behind Athens, Georgia-based Terrapin’s latest Side Project beer. Described as a “chili pepper brownie ale,” a cake-like chocolate base serves as a platform for bright, hot pepper on top.
The chocolate and spice combination in Guano Loco is not a new one in craft beer; Westbrook’s Mexican Cake and Cigar City’s Hunahpu’s are key examples. But Terrapin’s offering is a solid, economical and relatively easy-to-find take on the blend. While most styles that incorporate those flavors are stouts or porters, this brown ale is a lighter interpretation that drinks smooth while still packing a pepper punch. At 8.6% alcohol by volume, the spicy heat and booze content make this a good bottle choice to share amongst friends.
Coastal Empire Wins Gold
Savannah’s Coastal Empire Beer Company won a gold medal in the barrel aged dark beer category at the United States Open Beer Championship. The award was for its Barrel Aged Savannah Brown Ale. While Coastal Empire’s non-barrel aged Savannah Brown Ale is an easy find in cans around town, savvy restaurant and bar patrons can find the more limited bourbon barrel variant on tap locally as supplies allow.
Recent social media updates from the brewery show that its local build-out is progressing, with the addition of a cold room. Coastal Empire is currently contract-brewing out of a facility in Alabama while construction on its Savannah brewery is underway.
Eagle Creek Cans Now Available
Statesboro brewery Eagle Creek Brewing Co. has been seen creeping in on local tap handles over the past few months, and now you can find its cans in area package and grocery stores. The artistically-designed vessels feature wrap-around scenes with a graphic punch that clearly separates them from other labels.
The look is distinctly rural and Southern, with lawn chairs, mowers, deer and a shotgun found on the Grass Roots can. Billed as a lemon lime hefeweizen, Grass Roots is a sugary brew that is a sweet but refreshing complement to long summer days of idle relaxation. Eagle Creek’s Spot Tail Blonde Ale is also available in cans.
Burnt Hickory on Beer Advocate Cover
Kennesaw, Georgia brewery Burnt Hickory graced the cover of the taste-maker craft beer magazine BeerAdvocate issue #90 on stands now. Burnt Hickory has gained a loyal following due to its delicious, innovative beers and irreverent branding which plays off a strong punk rock aesthetic. The article dealt largely with the expansion of its brewing space as the brewery transitions away from being Georgia’s smallest production brewery to being able to serve more of the state and beyond. Due to its small size, Savannah has only received the occasional keg from Burnt Hickory; but that should change with its new production capacity. That cannot happen soon enough for fans of its awe-inspiring The Didjits Blood Orange IPA or Big Shanty Graham Cracker Stout.