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Brewin' up a party
Craft Brew Fest hits town this weekend


What's the best best bet to knock down the heat on Labor Day weekend? How about more than 120 different cold beers?

That's what beer enthusiasts from around the U.S. will find at the second annual Savannah Craft Brew Fest Grand Tasting on Saturday, Sept. 5.

Come expecting a crowd.

"The first fest welcomed more than 1,800 gusts," says Laura Simpson, Director of Special Events with fest organizer the Savannah Convention and Visitor's Bureau. "This year, we anticipate upwards of 2,500 participants."

And there will be plenty to choose from. More than 35 breweries are preparing to attend, and they will showcase a selection of American craft beers, a very specific market segment that represents small, regional breweries and even some larger brewers, like Sam Adams, that practice the brewer's art of very hand-crafted suds.

Popular brands like Dog Fish Head and New Belgium Brewing lead brand Fat Tire and will be present, but so will smaller brewers like Thomas Creek, Athens, Georgia-based Terrapin Brewing and employee-owned Full Sail of Oregon.

The Grand Tasting will be held on the esplanade of the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center from 1-7 p.m. Live music, food and festival merchandise will be available all day.

Friday night's prelude will take on the feel of a traditional Southern backyard cookout at the Charles H. Morris Center at Trustee's Garden.

"Guests last year told us they wanted a more casual Friday night experience," Simpson says. "And that's what they'll get. This event goes further to pair food with beer -- but still keeps a very relaxed mood."

The Friday event proceeds will benefit Senior Citizens Inc., a Savannah-based non-profit that serves seniors through programs like Meals on Wheels, Ruth Byck Adult Day Care and senior community centers.

Four or five breweries will offer samples of their beer to accompany food stations that will feature Lowcountry Boil, barbecue, fried chicken and a variety of side dishes. Popular local band Junkyard Angel will perform all night.

Additional events hosted by event sponsor Westin Savannah Harbor will include a beer and dessert pairing during fireworks over the Savannah River on Friday night, a Friday golf tournament and other informational programs during the day on Saturday.

Savannah Craft Brew Fest

Full schedule, Westin events and online ticketing at Tickets can also be purchased at the Civic Center Box Office.

Craft Brew and Food Pairing Dinner

Friday, Sept. 4, 6 p.m.

The Charles H. Morris Center

$50/advance; $75/day of

Craft Brew Grand Tasting

Saturday, Sept. 5, 1-7 p.m.

The Esplanade, Savannah International Trade & Convention Center
$35/advance, $40/day of, $33/group of 20 or more advance, $5/designated driver advance, $10/designated driver day of

Volunteers are also still needed! Sign up, work half of the festival, attend the other half free -- and score a cool volunteer t-shirt. For more, information or to sign up, call 644-6429.