I love summer in Chattanooga solely because it’s jam-packed with festivals and big outdoor events. Last weekend was the 22nd annual Southern Brewers Festival in Chattanooga, which is one of my favorite events of the summer. It’s a summer tradition among many Chattanoogans, and my goodness do Chattanoogans love their craft beer.
I went to last year’s Southern Brewers Festival on a complete whim. I wasn’t really a beer drinker but it sounded like a good time, and after just moving to town, I wasn’t turning down a chance to try something new. Going to the festival was a highlight of my summer last year, so I was super excited to go back this year!
Southern Brewers Festival–affectionately called “Brewfest” by many–is a celebration of the best craft beer from around the region. More than 60 breweries from across the southeast and beyond came to Chattanooga to share their best brews. Each of the breweries brought at least two brews for festival-goers to sample and sip on all day, either by the half-pour or full pour. Aside from the beer, there’s delicious fair-type food–corn dogs, funnel cakes, bacon on a stick and more–to keep the hunger at bay while tasting beer.
Like many big events in Chattanooga, the Southern Brewers Festival is a benefit. Proceeds from the event go toward the Craftworks Foundation and Chattanooga’s Kids on the Block. The Craftworks Foundation is the charitable portion of Craftworks Restaurants and Breweries; its mission is to provide its team members with financial assistance during difficult times, and with resources for career and personal growth when needed. Chattanooga’s Kids on the Block was founded in 1977, and aims to educate children about social issues and differences through the art of puppetry. They do some pretty fabulous work around Chattanooga, so it’s great to know the proceeds from Brewfest go toward these awesome causes.
That’s not all, though – Southern Brewers Festival also boasts great live music throughout the day. This year’s acts included Nick Lutsko & The Gimmix, Mike Farris & The Roseland Rhythm Revue, JJ Grey & Mofro and Perpetual Groove.
So, which breweries and beers did I get to taste at the festival?
This year, I branched out from the breweries I was already familiar with: Yeungling, Devil’s Backbone (although their Vienna Lager is a favorite of mine), RJ Rocker’s, Leinenkugel’s, New Belgium, Sweetwater (hello 420), etc. I know I can get those almost anywhere, so I focused on new brews.
I started my day with Paw Paw’s Peach from the Back Forty Beer Company (Gadsden, Ala.). This Georgia girl will never say no to anything peachy, so that was a great, lighter beer to start. I followed that with a Blue Ridge Lager from Fannin Brewing Company (Blue Ridge, Ga.) and a Sunseeker Pilsner from Green Man Brewery (Asheville, NC). I prefer lighter beers, if you couldn’t tell.
I did sip on a couple darker ales, like the Ropegun Rye Ale from Chattanooga’s own Hutton & Smith. I was also happy to see the Carolina Brewery (Chapel Hill, NC) back at the festival; their Sky Blue Golden Ale is quite refreshing!
Even though I said I was sticking to new beers, I couldn’t resist a Watermelon Wheat from Straight to Ale Brewery (Huntsville, Ala.). This was my absolute favorite from the 2015 festival and I was super excited for it to be back this year. Anyone know where I can find this in bottles?!
Other popular beers and breweries from the day include Jackalope (Nashville, Tenn.), Terrapin Beer Co. (Athens, Ga.), Bold Rock Hard Cider (Mills River, NC), Blackhorse Brewery (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Wiseacre Brewing Co. (Memphis, Tenn.). A full list of the breweries in attendance is on the festival’s website.
These guys certainly enjoyed their Jackalope brews–complete with antler crowns!
The Southern Brewers Festival is yet another instance of the strength of the Chattanooga community. I’m starting to believe that we will come together over anything. And that’s definitely not a bad thing, especially when delicious craft beer is involved.