My Adventures at the Southern Brewer’s Festival

The Southern Brewer’s Festival occurred in August of 2009. In keeping with my lazy characteristic I didn’t write this recollection up until several months later. I sent it to the fine gentlemen over at Beer School Blog to be posted at their site but they must be really busy and haven’t gotten around to checking their email. Anyway, I decided to post it here and maybe it would be read by some person(s) who might happen by this most neglected site.

The day began with a couple of friends and me warming up for the brewer’s festival at the Terminal Brewhouse. While there I must always start with the famed Southsidenstein Stout (the Terminal’s oatmeal stout) followed by a Terminally Ale (their American pale ale). After sufficient, known commodity craft brews we were headed downtown. First to check in to our hotel (safety first, kids!) and a short walk down Chestnut Street to Chattanooga’s Downtown Riverfront park for the 15th Annual Southern Brewer’s Festival.

This is my second year attending this festival hosted by Chattanooga Kids on the Block (all proceeds went to this group) and the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group, Inc. This year seemed significantly more popular than last year’s event because the place was crowded way earlier than the year before. We, unfortunately, arrived too late and we missed the Krystal Square Off eating contest. Apparently, some guy won the qualifier.

When approaching a brewer’s festival one has to be slightly methodical about it. As much as I’d love to walk down the row of brewers with cup held out for them to pour their fine wares into my vessel that’s just asking for trouble. I have my favorites that I drink all of the time (Highland Brewing Company’s Gaelic Ale if anyone would like to know) but unless they are offering something new at the festival I tend to avoid breweries that I can get at the grocery store and drink on a regular basis. With that said, according to the scrawl in my moleskine beer journal, I brought forth my commemorative mug to six brewers in order to taste their fine offerings.

The first brewery that I tried was Yazoo Brewing Company from Nashville, TN. I had to revisit this fine brewery’s booth because I have yet to find it here in Chattanooga and I miss it so. When I arrived I asked the fine Yazoo representative about the latest offering from them, “‘Sue’, a deliciously smoked porter brewed with cherry-wood smoked malts.” (from their blog). But due to the high alcohol content of this fine mistress I was not able to introduce myself to Sue. Instead, I had a Dos Perros. Which is their interpretation of a Mexican beer style and was as good as I had remembered it. Like, seeing an old friend and clicking together like you’d never been apart.

My next craft brew choice was a brave one. Last year I tried a brew from the Barley Mob Brewers of Chattanooga and it was a horrible experience. Not only was it the worst beer I’ve ever had, I poured it out (and I don’t pour out beer!). However, this time  decided to give them another try and got the Cascade Pale Ale. And wouldn’t you know it? They have redeemed themselves with a decent pale ale. And by decent I mean I didn’t pour it out.

For the third taste test I decided to take a trip down south on A1A and had the Red Brick Ale from A1A Ale Works, a Gordon Biersch brewery out of St. Augustine, Florida. This typical red ale was just that: typical. Nothing too special about it in my opinion. Not bad but also not memorable. Which is pretty much what I think of most of the beers out of the Gordon Biersch conglomeration of breweries/restaurants.

My fourth choice of suds came from Starr Hill Brewery. I decided to stop by this booth because I have never heard of this brewery out of Charlottesville, Virginia. I decided on trying The Festie. The Festie is their interpretation of an Oktoberfest lager. I must say, “Yay” for the Festie. It reawakened my taste buds after a couple of lack luster brews. I am excited to try their other wares. I just need to find them somewhere!

Next on the list of beers that I tried was the Motorboat from the fine folks of Sweetwater Brewing Company. The Motorboat is their fine interpretation of an ESB. This one was, and still is, one of my favorites from this day of beer tasting.

For the final tasting of the day (because at this point I could barely write whatever I was drinking in my beer notebook) was New Belgium Brewing’s Hoptober. It’s a very nice golden ale with five different hop varieties. I continue to return to this seasonal every time I stand and look at the beer selection that my local grocery store offers. When the Hoptober season is over I will be one distraught beer drinker.

The Southern Brewer’s Fest is a fine gathering of the crafters of the beverage we all like to call home. The only complaint I have about it is the lack of water to rinse out our commemorative sampler mug. Every other craft beer festival has offered this and, to me, proves that these festival’s are hosted by professionals. Come on SBF! Get it together! Besides that one complaint it’s a fine festival at a great location along the river here in Chattanooga.

4 thoughts on “My Adventures at the Southern Brewer’s Festival”

  1. This year’s fest was ridiculous. So many breweries that they stretched all the way to the porta-potties. Kinda cool, kinda gross. I’m glad it’s alphabetical. :) I run the Barley Mob here in Chattanooga. Find me at the fest next year, and I’ll give you the skinny on which of our beers are the best. We have about 30 different beers brewed by about 20 different brewers. Some are really, really good, some are brewer castoffs. (One man’s trash…) Also, you want to get there early, as we put the best beers out first. The drunks at the end of the night don’t care about what kind of malt or hops we used. :)

    I agree with you about the rinse water. What are we, animals? Next year, I’ll devote a keg or two to just water so the volunteers can rinse out the cups.

    Anyways, keep in touch! At the very least I can bring you a good homebrew. :)

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