Oktoberfest is upon us! This traditional German “volksfest” or people’s festival (Wikipedia describes it as a “travelling funfair” which is just …yes) starts in mid-September and runs through early October. The Munich Oktoberfest was established in 1810 and, today, we embrace it around the globe. If you’re really into it, strap on your lederhosen and travel to Helen, Georgia, a self-made Bavarian alpine village in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains with the longest-running Oktoberfest in the U.S. They’ve been partying for almost 50 years.
If something closer to home is more your style, there are plenty of breweries and beer fests to choose from. Any time is a good time to visit our breweries, but the coming months just feel like beer season. Saturdays and Sundays (and sometimes Thursdays, Fridays, and Mondays) fill with football. Outdoor events and festivals abound. Our local breweries turn out unusual, crafty brews in honor of the season. All are certain to be offering some variation of a märzen or weissbier or good ol’ dunkel for the tasting.
Recent legislation in Georgia remedied an archaic law restricting breweries to specific hours and methods of serving (you had to buy a “tour” on which you got “free” beer). Now, unshackled from that hindrance, they’re open most days and you can just sidle up and order a delicious beverage like you would at any other bar or restaurant.
Check out our recommendations below to get your craft brew fix this Oktoberfest season.
Two Tides Brewing Company – The newest brewery in Savannah, Two Tides quickly gained a loyal following for their focus on IPAs and sour-style beers, “haze and funk” as they like to say. With a new food truck park across the street and frequent block parties, there’s always something going on at this Starland hot spot.
Service Brewing Company – Service is a veteran-owned business and provider of the famed “Savannah Banana” beer served at all Bananas games. Their Compass Rose IPA is a solid choice, and they usually have a rotating tap of more experimental styles like a Jalapeno Lime Lager or a Smoked Sour with Raspberries.
Southbound Brewing Company – Southbound is the crunchy granola to Service’s steak and eggs and Two Tides’ avocado toast. They are music heads, frequently hosting concerts and featuring a “Discography” series of beers with names like “Yacht Rock” and “Freakin’ and Peakin.’” Tie-dye and flip-flops welcome.
Moon River Brewing Company – Moon River is Savannah’s first brewery, founded in 1999. These folks are true professionals with a number of accolades and awards to their name. They are also the only brewery with a full menu, and they have a great beer garden where people watching on Bay Street is at its prime.
Coastal Empire Beer Company – This brewery is a bit off the beaten path in west Savannah, but don’t let that stop you from making a visit on your brewery tour extravaganza. They offer a wide range of beer styles that will please anyone looking to escape the IPA craze – a brown, a blonde, a coco pina gose. They offer an IPA as well, but it seems like that’s just de rigueur.
Southern Barrel Brewing Company – Stop at Southern Barrel on your way home from Hilton Head or other points north of Savannah. They offer a full kitchen (try the fried pickles) and a varied selection of beers. The Damn Yankee IPA is my husband’s favorite (he’s from Boston, naturally).
River Dog Brewing Company – Last, but certainly not least is River Dog Brewing in Ridgeland, South Carolina, just north of Southern Barrel. With a full selection sampling a number of styles and not repeating one, they’re another great choice to round out a tour of the best breweries of the Lowcountry.