One of the best beer festivals in Georgia, the 21st Annual Classic City BrewFest took place over the weekend in Athens, GA. Organized by Brewtopia Events, LLC founder (and frequent BC collaborator) Owen Ogletree, this year’s Classic City BrewFest was once again a rousing success and a delightful paean to our favorite beverage.
The festival started at 2:30, which was about when I arrived. One of the most important parts of the event is the cask ale tent, and this year’s selection didn’t disappoint.
I made a beeline straight to the tent, which was already overflowing with imbibers, and started our rounds. The beers were organized alphabetically by brewery, so I started on the left and worked my way around to the finish.
Though a full description of the beers I sampled would probably end up being over 3000 words, suffice it to say that I discovered some luscious flavors as well as some experimental brews. A few of the highlights:
Another important part of any beer festival is discovering breweries you’ve never heard of and beers you’ve never had before. Classic City was no exception.
Parallel 49 Brewing, located in Vancouver, Canada, was on hand to pour its Salty Scot, a delectable salted caramel Scottish ale (honestly one of the best brews I had) and Tricycle, a Grapefruit Radler. Both of these beers were excellently made and featured colorful and interesting can designs.
Richmond, Virginia’s Strangeways Brewing also came in hot, with my personal favorites being Woodbooger Belgian Brown, marked by notes of caramel, chocolate, dark fruit and a hint of woody esters, and Martian Spring Biere de Mars, an uncommon style done right, aged in oak wine barrels with a blast of five hop varietals and the characteristic Biere de Garde yeast, making for a unique finish.
I also stumbled upon the most pleasant surprise of the event in the form of Terrapin’s Tangerine Lemon Hopsecutioner. The fruiting further mellowed the IPA’s already quite quaffable bitterness, and to add to the occasion, it was poured from a street-legal mini-car/keg contraption. Surprisingly, one of my favorite beers of the event.
Picking my way through the crowd, I found the “Special Treats Table,” which poured some well-known whales every hour – first was AleSmith’s velvety Speedway Stout, followed by ’14 and ’15 versions of Goose Island’s classic Bourbon County series, which caused a bit of debate. ’14 was delicious, but there were rumors that the ’15 batch had been infected. Though Goose Island supposedly caught all the bad ones before they went out, these certainly tasted so. Nevertheless, the carnival of delicacies continued soon after with Founders KBS.
Continuing along to the Galleria section, Brooklyn Brewery was on hand with its flagship Brooklyn Lager as well as new year-round Red IPA, Defender IPA. Brouwerij Lindemans was represented by its classic Cuvée René, a delightfully spritzy Gueuze.
Overall, Classic City ’16 was everything one could want out of a festival – rare brews, joviality, and pretzel necklaces abounding. There were dozens, if not hundreds more worth mentioning, but as is often the case with beer, some may be best left to the imagination.