Let me preface this with the following: You may notice a couple times throughout this article some parts are written in German. For anyone reading who understands, I hope you enjoy it. For the rest of you…. let’s be honest, you’re lucky I didn’t write the whole damn thing in German. However, I’ve added footnotes to help out.
When you ask people what their favorite time of year is, chances are they tell you Fall because of the leaves changing, or Summer because of beach weather. Perhaps they’re some kind of heathen and pay tribute to Winter’s death grip as it reminds them of some ill gotten Christmas fantasy with mistletoe and a fat guy breaking into houses around the world. All of these options are all good and well, sure, but if you asked me the same question, I’d have to go with… Beerfest season!
Beerfest season is that magical time of year somewhere between summer and fall when the weather is decent and the skies are clear, something familiar to the region between Satan’s ass-crack and Jack Frost’s nut-sack, the weather taint, if you will. It’s during those ever welcoming days of season’s in-betweens that Augusta’s 2nd Annual Craft-Beerfest und Das 4. Jahrlisches Deutsches Bierfest ☬ in Atlanta occur.
These are kind of my things: Beer, drinking outdoors, friends, drunken shenanigans, and sporadic memories that tend to reveal that I do dumb shit when I’m schmammered. Augusta didn’t quite meet the stipulations outlined previously. There was certainly beer, and friends, but it was difficult to get drunk outside in a space where the lines to get beer are enormous and you’re stuck to a basketball court with 5 thousand others trying to get hammered just as much as you are.
I will give it to them though; they did 2 separate events that day (1-4/6-9 pm sessions) without running out of beer, or even coming close in most cases. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about anything that happened that night. Actually, it was a wonderfully planned event. They had food trucks out back, there were competitions that took the attention of people (making it damn easy to get a beer in those 3 minutes), and random t-shirt tosses that also distracted the casual drinkers amongst the throng of drunks. I’d even venture to say it was a great fest, had it not been for the abundance of terrible breweries whose goal in life is to pack as many hops into a bottle as scientifically possible. Sure, there were plenty of good breweries as well, Service out of Savannah not only had good beers with awesome names, they had these really cool paper bag koozies that they gave away to all who tasted their Ground Pounder or Rally Point beers. Alagash was there, as was Southbound, another Savannah based brewery which makes delicious brews.
Other Georgia breweries who made an appearance include: Eagle Creek out of Statesboro, Jekyll from Alpharetta, Red Hare in Marietta, as well as O’Dempsey’s, Jailhouse, and Wild Heaven coming from Atlanta, Hampton, and Decatur respectively. If you’re in or from the Atlanta area and have never had any of these beers, kindly go back to the depraved teetotaling hell hole you probably came from, and try again. Also, despite Statesboro being the home of my Alma Mater, and the fact I have unfounded support for their success, the beers they make are terrible. Sure, a small college town in southeast Georgia makes a few bad beers, but the rest of the state has this art down. What every other brewery has is a nice balance of flavors, if not a specialization in a certain brew process. Look at Monday Night, and their Drafty Kilt – a scotch ale. Three Taverns makes a delicious Pilsner, A Night on Ponce, and, well, Red Hare makes a lot of decent beers in cans with an ongoing joke about an alcoholic rabbit. Not to take away of course, from Terrapin, which while delicious and similar to Sweetwater in their pot theme, make the same jokes about schedule 1 drugs. Terrapin has a stoner turtle and releases seasonally one of my favorite beers, a Coffee-Oatmeal-Stout “Wake-n-Bake”. While Sweetwater, being from a bigger city, make no attempts at “hiding” their intentions with their 420 IPA using an inordinate amount of hops (a plant which is in the same genus as marijuana), but I digress.
What bothered me a bit wasn’t the crowds, or the “misses” that every “hit” tends to attract, but rather the breweries that showed up to, what I thought was, a craft beer festival. Blue Moon, Leinenkugel, and Sam Adams were among those to make an appearance. While Sam Adams is a solid beer on all fronts, (their 2015 Oktoberfest is outstanding this year) they aren’t what one typically imagines seeing at a craft-beer fest environment where one might find the likes of Red Hare, Monday Night, Jekyll, or even Eventide. What I imagine from a craft beer fest is similar to what I’ve come to expect from the German Bierfest every year.
The Atlanta German Bierfest is the staple by which other fests should live by; an event outside with perfect weather, cheap food options, pretzels, and women in Dirndls. Simply spoken, it isn’t that Germany has a plethora of craft beers, rather the opposite given the Reinheitsgebot of 1516, the German Purity laws. What they do have, at this gathering of drunks in Lederhose, is a solid mixture of beers ranging from the lightest of Pilsners to the cloudy wheat goodness of a Hefeweizen, all the way to a strong bitter Rauchbier (smoked beer) that likes to kick you right in the face and remind you that you’re still in Germany you pussy!
The Germans don’t fuck around when it comes to drinking, and while we have a festival that commemorates the camaraderie and frivolity of drinking in public, they have an entire month dedicated to the very same thing which results in a oddly unique combination of drained bank accounts, defeated livers, and the regret everyone feels when they wake up in a park with a pounding hangover and someone else’s vomit in their hair. Alas that’s just day 1 and you have an entire weekend ahead of you.
Fortunately for everyone in attendance at the Atlanta Bierfest, it was only 5 hours of solid drinking, and ample opportunity to escape the sun and crowds with other activities to participate in. Life-size beer pong is a popular event, as is bumper soccer which consists of drunken idiots in rubber inflatable bubble-wrap trying to navigate to kick a ball, while taking out and simultaneously dodging the opposing team. I took a liking to this immediately. Have you ever placed yourself into a bubble whilst holding a beer and running after a soccer ball? No? You haven’t lived then!
Both of these events have their high points and purposes. The German Bierfest offers a look into the various beers of Germany from all their different regions, while exposing you to the purity laws (soon to celebrate 500 years in existence). In my opinion this is the biggest factor in the US craft beer scene and good beers from Germany. The purity laws, for brevity’s sake, required brewers to use only 3 (later 4) ingredients to make beer. Hopes, barleys, water, and later yeast were the only parts allowed. Today, most of German breweries stick to this standard, and while it’s not an enforced law it is viewed as a tradition that shouldn’t be forgotten, similar to Oktoberfest which finds its origin as a wedding party. The Americans on the other hand like to experiment with varieties of ingredients from chocolate, to coffee, various wheats, woods and even bourbon in some cases to create the brews we enjoy today. Is there any better way to brew beer, or is one nation superior to the other? Absolutely not. Both methods offer up a wonderful batch of booze, it’s up to the drinker to decide which brand or process is the preferred. As for me, I appreciate both methods for different reasons.
If there is anything to take from this long-winded article, it’s probably the idea that Bierfests are a great excuse to blow 30$ for all the beer you can drink. Further, to add a bit of pretentiousness to this whole thing, an arbitrary rating-system I just came up with as I sip on not-a-beer. The rankings are out of 66 because this is my article, and why the hell not?
Beer Selection: 43
Entertainment Value: 52.7
Is in Atlanta: 0
Girls in Dirndls: 0
Atlanta German Bierfest:
Beer Selection: 58
Entertainment Value: 66
Is in Atlanta: 66
Girls in Dirndls: 89
…. I may be biased. To make up for it, enjoy this picture of me in Lederhose!
☬ – The best damn Beerfest you’ll ever experience so grab a beer und exen!☘
☣ – You made out with your sister man!
☘ – Drink that shit quickly!