Sunday, May 5, 2024

Why the Craft Brewers Conference is So Rewarding


By Owen Ogletree
Last April's Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) & Brew Expo America took place in fabulous Las Vegas. The event brings together craft brewers from around the world. When strolling through the conference and exhibitor halls, one can sense the enthusiasm and eagerness among the attending brewers. Unlike many other business models, craft brewers love to share, collaborate and build each other up. With each presentation, panel and social network gathering, the CBC promotes and encourages these qualities with deep earnestness and veracity. Diversity and inclusion also form a vital focus at the conference.  
Organized by Colorado's Brewers Association, the CBC offers educational programs and allows international and domestic brewers to come together to share ideas, make contacts, problem-solve and discover new solutions and resources—usually over a beer. CBC also forms the culmination of several blind judging sessions of the annual World Beer Cup that awards medals to the best world-class global beers in several categories. Judges in each category were given beer samples identified only by an anonymous number, and judge teams sniffed, tasted, discussed and decided on the top entries.
This year's World Beer Cup boasted 9,300 entries from 2,060 breweries in 50 countries. 290 beer judges from 37 different countries judged the beers according to strict style guidelines in 110 beer style categories, and medal winners were announced at an impressive and boisterous awards ceremony taking place at the conclusion of the CBC. 
Winners celebrate at the World Beer Cup Awards Ceremony
Being from Georgia, I wanted to mention our four medal winners from the Peach State:
- Bronze went to Tie XII from Monday Night Brewing Garage in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout category.
- Gold was awarded to The Virtue of Patience from Bold Monk Brewing in the Fruited Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer group.
- Bronze went to Hazy West Coast IPA by SweetWater/Green Flash in the Juicy/Hazy Pale Ale category.
- Bronze was presented to Bartow Brown from Drowned Valley Brewing Company in the American-Style Brown Ale category.
2024's most entered style categories in the World Beer Cup:
1.    Category 109, Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale: 326 entries
2.    Category 110, West-Coast Style India Pale Ale: 281 entries
3.    Category 40, German-Style Pilsener: 221 entries
4.    Category 108, American-Style India Pale Ale: 213 entries
5.    Category 29, Wood & Barrel-Aged Strong Stout: 198 entries
As an attending media representative at CBC, I was honored to attend the welcome reception, stroll through the expansive hall of exhibitors and chat about the current state of the craft brewing industry. I also enjoyed sipping beers in various hospitality suites and sitting in on informative seminars such as:
- Exploring Hop Picking Windows and Their Impact on Aroma and Flavor
- Exploring the Boundaries of Innovation: Biotechnology and Brewing Ingredients
- The Flavor of Your Taproom: How the Drinking Atmosphere Shifts the Taste and Memory of Beer
- Getting Your Guests into Your Taproom and Keeping Them There.
- Beyond Cell Counts: Off-Flavor Sensory for Aspiring Yeast Whisperers
Owen Ogletree chats with BJCP Grand Master Beer Judge Sandy Cockerham at Silver Stamp Pub
Of course, all the visiting CBC brewers enjoyed evenings of sipping brews around the best taprooms, bars and breweries in Las Vegas. Many facilities offered special celebrations, beer tastings, rare beer tappings, and opportunities to network. Among my favorite beer spots in Vegas were Atomic Liquors, Hop Nuts Brewing, CraftHaus Brewery, Nevada Beer Works, Able Baker Brewing and the extraordinary Silver Stamp pub. Silver Stamp is only around three years old but was built to make customers feel like they'd entered a neighborhood dive bar from the 1960s. However, this Vegas "dive bar" offers the best international beer selection in the city. Of course, no beer trip to Vegas would be complete without a visit to the city's amazingly accurate and enjoyable recreation of Munich's Hofbräuhaus.
Want to learn more about the intricate details of craft beer? Are you thinking of starting a brewery or amping up your current brewing business? Please plan to join me at the Brewers Association's 2025 Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America, which will be held from April 28 to May 1 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
CBC/World Beer Cup photos courtesy of Brewers Association.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Georgia Craft Brewery Events Too Exciting to Miss

- Exciting Georgia Brewery Events
Beer & Boiled Seafood
NoFo plans a range of enjoyable events for the spring. On April 27, NoFo's Cleveland location hosts its first Market Day, with over 40 arts and crafts vendors, along with music and food trucks. During the first weekend of June, NoFo Cleveland also plans a low country boil in conjunction with Clyde's Table & Tavern. Guests will enjoy live music, mouth-watering food and exceptional NoFo beers. 
Cultivating a Caring Culture
Cultivation Brewery in Norcross plans a fitness boot camp for April 20 that includes workout tips and tasty beer. As the weather warms, Cultivation invites guests to enjoy its patio for outdoor drinking, surrounded by picnic tables and plenty of umbrellas for shade. Cultivation's Kat Ash Whaley adds, "Cultivation Foundation, the brewery's philanthropic seed, will be hosting its second annual kickball tournament, tentatively set for June 2. Following the success of last year's event, which raised funds for a local charity, the foundation is shifting its focus towards supporting local athletics and providing greater access to sports for children in need. Our mission at Cultivation Brewery has always been to support and uplift our local community."
Creature Turns Ten
Creature Comforts Brewing Company celebrates its exciting tenth anniversary this year, and the Athens taproom plans a multitude of special happenings that will take place throughout April. The main event will occur on Saturday, April 6, with bands, DJs, food trucks, special glassware and amazing beer. Tickets can be purchased on the Creature Comforts website. “The Creature Comforts team has always believed that beer brings people together and that breweries have historically been the place where people gather to share ideas and life together,” says Creature Comforts co-founder and CEO Chris Herron. “As we mark this significant anniversary, it’s allowed us to reflect on the positive impact we’ve made in the communities we serve, both in conversations over beer and with philanthropic efforts through our Get Comfortable campaign.”
New Digs for Normaltown
Normaltown Brewing plans to begin construction on its new Athens brewery and taproom around June. Until then, check out the beers at the original location that include SunTan Fruited Sour, Elder Masters IPA, Elder the Adolescent, Yet to be Named Hazy Citra NEIPA, Hair Band Blonde Ale, One Place to a Better One Saison and a new West Coast-style IPA with Citra, Simcoe and Nectaron hops.
German-Style Celebration in Atlanta
Round Trip Brewing's annual Fruhlingsfest spring celebration takes place at the Atlanta brewery on Saturday, April 20. "We'll have a full kölsch service with our Instant Krüsch and the release of Extra Krüsch and Zum Bamberg," explains Round Trip's Billy Rudolph. "Extra Krüsch is an 'India pale kölsch' with an extra bump of hops. Zum Bamberg is a smoked märzen brewed with Ireks pilsner and smoked malt. In addition, we are releasing a May 5 Vienna lager collaboration called Tecolote. It's our first Vienna lager, and we added Lemondrop lupulin hop pellets to the whirlpool. Round Trip also plans to open our second location at Avenue East Cobb sometime this spring."

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting Beer List: 1/20/2024

Scroll down for FULL DESCRIPTIONS OF ALL OUR CASK BEERS this year and photos from the event:

Important ACAT Festival Notes:

  • WEAR YOUR BEADS. These are required for entry and for being served.
  • ALLERGENS: Some beers contain nuts and other allergens. Check the descriptions below and ask servers to be certain.
  • Ribbons for 1st, 2nd & 3rd place Avant-Garde and Classic-Style casks will be posted on casks at 4 PM. Festival attendees can use the link below to vote for People's Choice cask. 
  • Floors are wet - please use constant caution. 
  • Don't drink and drive! Use Uber and Lyft.
  • Attendees get 10% off delicious food items at Bold Monk today!
  • Beers are subject to change without notice. ACAT code of conduct is posted at the bottom. 

CLICK HERE to vote for your favorite cask before 5 PM on festival day. Use the unique six-digit passcode from your blue ticket to vote. 


01. Arches I’m Not Bitter, You’re Bitter ESB. This 5.1% ABV ale comes across as a well-balanced, sessionable, traditional English-style bitter. Look for earthy, herbal English hops balanced with light bread and cracker notes from domestic and English malts.

02. Athentic Brewing Company Cask-Hopped Wide Open IPA. Athentic pulled a fresh cask of Wide Open IPA near the end of fermentation and cask-hopped it with Simcoe, Rakau, Denali and X10416 hops to complement the X1019 and Citra hops of the base beer. The result is a perfect marriage of piney and citrusy fruit notes with a touch of dankness and a smooth, satisfying finish.

03. Bagby Beer Company Three Beagles. This mouth-watering English-style brown ale from one of California's best breweries weighs in at 5.3% ABV and delivers elegant dark malt flavors and aromas with just enough hops for balance. Quite easy-drinking and not sweet or cloying, it's just enjoyable. 

04. Beacon Brewing Weiss Guys Dunkel Weizenbock is a 7.5% ABV German-style strong dark wheat beer that offers a complex bouquet of esters and phenols from the German weizen yeast, coupled with a bready malt backbone from copious amounts of locally malted wheat and German Munich malt. Notes of freshly baked banana bread, dark fruit, and a hint of caramel also come through.

05. Blackbird Farms Customer Entitlement is an American Pale Ale with appealing aroma, flavor, and bitterness from additions of Citra and East Kent Golding hops. 6% ABV.

06. SECOND PLACE CLASSIC STYLE: Bluejacket Company Porter (East India Porter) is our interpretation of the 1858 Whitbread Contract Porter brewed in collaboration with beer historian Ron Pattinson. Company Porter is heavily hopped with East Kent Goldings to punctuate malt-driven coffee, bread crust, and cocoa flavors with notes of tea, citrus, herbs, grass, and lavender. This remarkable 6.2% ABV dark brew finishes earthy and dry, with a pleasant lingering bitterness.

07. Bold Monk Prophets of Hope
is a 12.7% ABV bourbon barrel-aged barleywine brewed with select English malts, fermented in stainless steel, and aged in Prichard’s bourbon barrels for eight months. It boasts a full, malty body that's supported by a firm addition of hops for balance. The ale pours with a deep reddish brown hue and a light brown head. With intense notes of malt, charred oak, bourbon, hints of cherries and dark fruit, this beer will hold up to time’s test.

08. PEOPLE'S CHOICE FAVORITE CASK: Cherry Street / Lincoln Fill Station Maui Delight is an 8% ABV imperial porter that was aged in a Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel. This cask contains additions of toasted coconut, macadamia nuts, grilled pineapple, and Kona coffee. One sip and you'll be transported to winter break in Hawaii! (Our annual cask collaboration with our friends at Lincoln Fill Station in Snellville.)

09. Cherry Street Berries of the Sword Baltic Porter is our 9% ABV big and bold Baltic porter (Brothers of the Sword) infused with a blackberry, blueberry, and raspberry reduction. Roasty chocolate notes mingle with sweet, rich fruits for an indulgent cask experience.

10. Close at Hand Brewing Flex & Pretend Saison is a dry, rustic farmhouse ale built with pilsner malt, a substantial dose of spelt and rye, and paired with a lovely blend of turmeric, ginger, and lemon peel. It offers a warm, invigorating aroma with bright, earthy, citrus and clove notes on the palate with a punch of ginger. Decidedly versatile, it’s a beverage just as at home in the heat of summer as around the family table during the holidays. (A collaboration with Normaltown Brewing.)

11. Cøntrast Artisan Ales Double Chocolate Big Poppa Imperial Stout. Big Poppa, the base beer of our beloved Hypnotize Biggie Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, was cask-conditioned on delicious Costa Rican cacao to create a decadent layering of deep chocolate flavors. Layers and layers and layers, oh my! 10.1% ABV.

12. Creature Comforts Winter Trees Cold Red IPA. Innovation and nostalgia abound in this 7.1% ABV beer. We believe this to be the first Cold Red IPA, meaning it is brewed with rice and corn, fermented with lager yeast, and possesses a strong malty backbone complemented by piney hops and toasty malts.

13. SECOND PLACE AVANT-GARDE: Cultivation Brewery Simple Habits. This 8.5% ABV Belgian-style imperial IPA was generously dry-hopped with Nelson Sauvin hops. It offers a balance of fruity notes and herbal spices from the Belgian yeast, rounded out by the light honey sweetness of the malt. The aroma is a complex mix of white wine and gooseberry from the New Zealand hops.

14. Elsewhere Brewing Blank Czech
comes from a collaboration with brewer friends Piece Brewery from Chicago and Five Wits Brewery in Chattanooga.  Staropramen yeast, pilsner malt, Carared malt and Saaz hops make for a light and drinkable Czech-style amber lager. This cask contains a hop plug of Mt. Hood for a nice resinous finish. ABV: 4.7%, IBUs: 20.

15. Eventide Brewing Cinnamon Bun Kattegat Baltic Porter was conditioned with cinnamon, brown sugar, and vanilla beans. The 7.0% ABV dark beer offers a creamy medium/full body with an outstanding flavor profile from the dark malts and adjuncts.

16. Gate City Brewing Company Fuego Lager provides a spicy twist to our popular 4.3% ABV Gate City house lager. We dosed this cask with a special blend of peppers for a mild, firey kick.

17. FIRST PLACE CLASSIC STYLE: Good Word Brewing Digital Comforts is a classic English-style Best Bitter coming in at a sessionable 3.8% ABV. For such a light alcohol content, this elegant pub ale packs layers of subtle UK malt and hop character. 

18. Highland Brewing's Nutz & Voltz Coconut Coffee Porter is a harmonious blend of rich flavors, featuring the tropical essence of coconut seamlessly intertwined with the robust notes of freshly brewed coffee. The infusion of vanilla adds a velvety smoothness. With every sip, the coconut and coffee dance on the palate, elevated by the subtle sweetness of vanilla, delivering a uniquely delightful brew that captures the essence of a tropical morning in a glass. 5.8% ABV.

19. Hop Atomica Bronze Goddess. A classic doppelbock, this adjunct-free 8% ABV malt bomb was brewed with Munich and Pilsen malts and kissed with Magnum hops. Expect aromas of carob, caramel, chocolate, and a touch of plums and dark stone fruit. It is oh-so malty with sweet, yet well-attenuated, flavors of dates, toffee, and Raisinettes. That's some good bread!"

20. Hopstix Yasuke is our take on an international dark lager. We started with a foundation of Continental pilsner malt and roasted Chinese sweet black rice. A healthy amount of Spalter Select hops combined with the malts to form a clean and crisp 5% ABV dark lager with sweet toasted rice and coffee nuances.


21. Jekyll Brewing Southern Juice IPA. Our 6.3% ABV Southern Juice IPA ranks as one of our year-round offerings that boasts a nice citrus and piney dank aroma from Citra and Simcoe hops. This cask received our usual dry-hop treatment and was then conditioned on fresh sumo mandarin oranges and a hefty dose of additional Citra hops.

22. Khonso Brewing No Scrubs. This Wheatwine does not have time for those sitting on the passenger side of their best friend's ride. No Scrubs is made with 75% wheat malt, along with some traditional malts for a subtle sweetness. Pecan extract provides a subtle nuttiness, and Liberty and Paradigm hops contribute hints of hoppy spice. With an ABV of 9%, No Scrubs is the next crossover hit.

23. Liquid Nation Second To None E.S.B (Extra Special Bitter). This 5.0% ABV traditional English strong bitter performs a nice balancing act between hop bitterness and malt toast taste, with caramel sweetness coming through mid-palate, before drying to a clean and pleasing hoppy finish.

24. Lost Druid Shrewd Speculation Wheatwine. Deep gold, tilting to light amber in color, this 11% ABV heavily wheated ale presents an aroma of complex fruitiness dominated by golden raisins and white grapes. The same fruits, along with a touch of apricot esters, hit the front of the palate with sweet effervescent vigor, followed by subtle caramel and honey notes in the middle. The beer finishes slightly drier, with a wisp of tartness and moderate alcohol.

25. Magnanimous Brewing ZURG Czech-Style Pale Lager is a 4% ABV lager using 100% floor malted Bohemian pilsner malt and Saaz hops. This beer offers refreshing, yet complex, notes of pilsner malt, lightly toasted bread, and beautiful hop character arising from generous additions of floral/spicy Czech hops.

26. MAZURT Rum Barrel-Aged Unfocused Reflections of Matter: Elders Edition. As the Elders were hiking to Machu Picchu drinking the local hot cocoa, they were surprised by the rock star on the trail. In the confusion, the rock star spilled his drink into the hot cocoa. Coffee and rum tasted great with the cocoa! This Imperial Stout was aged in Independent Distilling rum barrels, and then rested on Machu Picchu cacao nibs and Kenyan coffee beans. (A collaboration with Bold Monk.)

27. FIRST PLACE AVANT-GARDE: Monday Night Choculus Pecan Pie is a 10% ABV Imperial Stout rested on cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, and locally sourced Georgia pecans. The resulting flavor is delicious, slightly roasted, and nutty. This ale is served still to amplify the decadent stickiness of this delightful stout.

28. Monkey Wrench Brewing Pipe Wrench Stout. This easy-drinking 6.3% ABV dark ale includes Maris Otter and chocolate malts plus flaked and roasted barley, which bring out espresso, toffee, and rich chocolate flavors. Oak chips soaked in bourbon for four weeks were added to impart woody and vanilla notes.

29. Moon River Captain's Porter is our 6% ABV porter with special additions of cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, and vanilla beans that enhance the already rich, full-bodied brew that is our porter. Think "Mexican hot chocolate."

30. New Realm 1800’s XXX English Mild
. Inspired by recipes from Ron Pattinson’s book The Homebrewer’s Guide to Vintage Beer, this recipe is a historical nod to the stronger mild ales from England in the 1800s. This cask was brewed with English Mild Ale malt and Maris Otter malt, fermented with London Ale yeast, and weighs in at 8.8% ABV.

31. NoFo Brew Co. Dapper Don's Pecan Porter rested for three months in a NOFO Apple Brandy barrel. Expect notes of figs, brown sugar, caramel/toffee, vanilla, and oak. 6% ABV and 18 IBUs.

32. Normaltown The Mild Midwinter is a 3.8% ABV UK-style dark mild ale brewed with classic British base malt, crystal, brown, and a touch of chocolate rye malt for an intriguing twist on a classic, elegant style of ale.

33. Red Hare Streaking Through the Quad is a 10% ABV Belgian-style quad aged in a Red Hare Rum Barrel. Look for strong caramel and prune flavors followed by notes of oak and a smooth rum finish.  Be careful, or you might actually end up streaking through the quad. 

34. Round Trip Brewing Krüsch on Nelson. Instant Krüsch, a New Zealand hopped Kolsch, is a collaborative effort between Round Trip and Victory Brands. For ACAT, we took freshly fermented Instant Krusch and added an elevated level of Nelson Sauvin hops to the cask that was conditioned with a small dose of freshly fermenting IPA.

35. Schoolhouse Brewing 70's Bushel is an 8% ABV double IPA that starts with a prominent hop aroma. This big brew delivers flavors of citrus, tropical fruit, and melon, along with piney resin notes. Brewed with West Coast yeast and hopped with heaps of Mosaic, Simcoe, Citra, Centennial, Chinook, and Sabro.

36. Service Brewing Company The Big Churro is a bourbon barrel-aged blonde pastry stout brewed with cinnamon, vanilla and cacao and then aged for eight months in Barton 1792 and Wild Turkey barrels. A boozy dessert beer with bold doughy notes of cinnamon sugar with a smooth blend of vanilla and bourbon.

37. Good Word Brewing Analog Life English Dark Mild. This 3.6% UK session ale is brewed with intention and a focus on the classic style. Rich malt character, dark fruit and light chocolate highlight this balanced and extremely drinkable classic ale. 

38. Six Bridges Brewing's Time Out of Mind is a 10% ABV barleywine made with Crisp Heritage #19 Maris Otter malt and finished on oak from Six Bridges' own house rum. The beer name comes from a groovin' Steely Dan song. Take some time out of mind while enjoying this flavorful barleywine.

39. Social Fox Brewing Oot Yer Face Wee Heavy. This 8.2% ABV strong Scottish ale was brewed using traditional methods. The dark brown (almost black) ale offers a rich caramel flavor with notes of semi-sweet chocolate, roasted hazelnuts, and cold brew coffee.

40. Southern Brewing Smooth Operator comes in as a potent 9.5% ABV imperial stout with impressive mouthfeel and dark malt complexity. Peanut butter and raspberries were added to this exclusive ACAT cask for additional layers of flavor.


41. STATS Brewpub Albatross IPA is a West Coast-style IPA with mango and serrano peppers added to this exclusive cask. Expect a firm malt backbone, complemented by generous hops and a pleasant fruit/capsaicin note. 6.7% ABV.

42. THIRD PLACE AVANT-GARDE: Steady Hand Puffy Monkey Milk Stout is a 6.5% ABV milk stout base brewed for our seasonal release, Puffy Jacket. Puffy Monkey is a traditional milk stout aged on Bananas Foster coffee.

43. THIRD PLACE CLASSIC STYLE: StillFire Brewing Suwanee Claus Imperial Doppelbock is a 12.1% ABV special beer brewed only once a year on December 6. It's lagered for the entire year until the next batch to replace it is again brewed on St Nicholas Day. Extremely complex, it comes across as malty, yet smooth and drinkable due to the extended aging.  Enjoy a little late Christmas cheer! 

44. SweetWater Brewing 3rd Time is a Charm is a delicious and surprisingly easy-drinking 10% ABV dry stout with dark chocolate, roasty flavors, and a hint of coffee. This delicious brew marinated in a barrel that previously aged whiskey. Prior to this, the barrel contained port wine. Expect complex flavors of berries, caramel, almond, vanilla and green peppercorn.

45. Terrapin Double Secret “Hazy” Probation is a 9% ABV imperial hazy IPA that was hopped generously with Amarillo in the boil, then double dry-hopped with Sequoia, Setiva and Zamba hops for a big, juicy flavor and aroma that will definitely keep you off the Dean’s List.

46. Three Taverns Old Bones. Inspired by our passion for classic English pub-style beers, we took the concept of an English Old Ale and brought the ABV down to a sessionable 5.0%. Old Bones is a delightfully simple, yet subtly complex beer, brewed with a blend of floor-malted Maris Otter malt, medium English crystal malt, black malt, and a touch of flaked wheat. Notes of toffee, freshly baked biscuits, black cherry, and molasses come through, along with stone fruit esters from the English yeast.

47. Torched Hop Anthem of the Angels Coconut Porter. This 6.2% ABV Robust Porter was aged on toasted coconut flakes post-fermentation. Additional coconut was added to the cask. Notes of coconut and dark chocolate leap from the glass.

48. Twain's Break the Wheel English Dark Ale is a 4.9% ABV nod to classic British brown ale. While all the hype may lie in lagers and IPAs these days, this nutty, chocolatey, and toasty dark ale is really what the beer-drinking soul needs on a cold winter's day. Ingredients: English Maris Otter, crystal malt, chocolate malt, UK Fuggle and East Kent Golding hops, and expressive English yeast. It's adjunct-free, just as it oughta be.

49. Variant International Taste Station. This special version of our 10% ABV Imperial Stout was conditioned in the cask on toasted coconut, vanilla, cacao nibs, maple, and coffee for outstanding layers of complexity.

50. Wild Heaven Big Baby Cakes. Big Baby Cakes is a Bulleit barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout filled with the flavors of a classic Mardi Gras king cake. Milk chocolate and espresso pair with sweet cinnamon and creamy vanilla with bourbon oak undertones. No plastic baby included.

51. Wrecking Bar Brewpub's Me Want Oatmeal Cookie Porter. This is our malty English brown porter aged on cognac and rum-soaked golden raisins, cinnamon and vanilla.

52. Bold Monk Rejoice! Celebratory Ale is our 8.9% ABV anniversary tripel brewed with hibiscus, sweet orange peel and raspberries. The beer pours a beautiful deep red color with luscious tropical notes of citrus and rose petals, along with the tart sweetness of raspberries - all supported by fresh hops. 

53. Khonso Sugar Foot Stomp. Get ready to let your doggies romp while enjoying this dark brown barleywine made with copper malt, cold brew coffee and a vanilla bean for a subtle sweetness. Galena & Mandarina Bavaria hops join the party for a hint of fruitiness. With an ABV of 10%, Sugar Foot Stomp is a new classic that'll get you high-stepping. "Sugar Foot Stomp" is a 1925 jazz song by the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra. 

CLICK HERE to vote for your favorite cask before 5 PM on festival day. Use the unique six-digit passcode from your blue ticket to vote.

ACAT CODE OF CONDUCT: ACAT is dedicated to a harassment-free festival experience for everyone, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, race or religion. We do not tolerate harassment in any form. All communication should be kind, appropriate and inclusive for all audiences, including people of diverse backgrounds, sexual orientations and cultures. Sexual language, harassment and imagery are never appropriate. All festival participants are expected to conduct themselves with responsibility, integrity, courtesy and respect for others. Participants violating these rules will be asked to leave at the sole discretion of the festival host and/or organizers. Thank you for respecting these important rules.

Photos from our 2024 ACAT by Mary Fiorello, Ale Sharpton, and Ginger Atteberry.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Maximizing Your Beer Travel on a Budget

 By Owen Ogletree

For people who enjoy craft beer, there's no better way to see a city than through "craft beer tourism." When checking out a town's top brewery and pub locations, travelers typically become exposed to the area's best entertainment centers, restaurants, sights, culture and people. Folks wanting to make the most of their beer travels on a limited budget should note the following valuable tips. 
When visiting a new city for a "beercation," it's usually best to start with breakfast and visits to the city's best non-beer tourist sites in the morning. After all, you can't drink beer all day. offers excellent recommendations and reviews regarding a city's top restaurants and visitor attractions. Following lunch for a good food base, visits to breweries and pubs crank up in the afternoon. 
TripAdvisor Screenshot
Do the Research
Be sure to conduct plenty of pre-planning for any beercation. Google makes an excellent source to scope out a city's best breweries and read reviews. If you are a fan of the Untappd app, try to check the overall scores for each brewery in a destination. Keep in mind that delicious, old-school classic beer styles and the breweries that produce them often score a bit lower on Untappd than more trendy styles and locales, so approach the app's scores and reviews with a grain of salt. 
Start in the Southeast
With its excellent airports and multitude of cities with concentrations of craft beer breweries and pubs, the southeastern United States makes for an easy and approachable introduction to craft beer tourism. Once you've mastered domestic beercations, expand your beery travel horizons to international destinations such as Canada, Ireland, England, Amsterdam, Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic. Remember to apply for a passport well in advance. 
Just a few favorite craft beer hubs of the Southeast include New Orleans, Louisiana; Birmingham, Alabama; Nashville, Tennessee; Atlanta and Athens, Georgia; Greenville and Charleston, South Carolina; Tampa, Florida; and the extraordinary beer mecca of Asheville, North Carolina. Don't overextend yourself on a beer trip. It's usually best to pick a city hub, score a nice hotel room or B&B and focus on the central breweries, taprooms and outstanding beer-centric pubs and restaurants in the area. Use Google as a resource for figuring out the hours of each business, as there's nothing worse than showing up to a closed taproom. 
Safety ranks as the most important consideration on a beer trip. Designate a non-imbibing driver, do lots of walking and use taxis, public transportation and ride-share options like Uber and Lyft. GoogleMaps provides extensive timetables and route planning, making logistics and daily public transport scheduling easy. For a nominal fee, many beer-centric cities in the Southeast offer shuttle buses that drive participants around to various breweries in town.
Google My Maps Screenshot 
Map Your Spots
As a helpful part of Google Documents, Google My Maps allows users to create personalized digital maps of cities that users can mark with "pins" to keep track of hotels, tourist spots and all interesting craft beer locations. Google My Maps can be loaded on smartphones, allowing beer travelers easy navigation to targeted points. Loading a Google My Map with a multitude of points of interest is extremely quick and straightforward. You'll never miss or forget a brewery destination again. 
Budget Flying Means More Beer Money
Beer travelers wanting to save money should subscribe to air travel discount email newsletters such as Going (formerly Scott's Cheap Flights), Thrifty Traveler, Kayak or Google Flights. A useful rule of thumb is to find a deep airline discount to an interesting city, book it, and then figure out all the best destinations there. You'll end up seeing the world on a budget. Picking a location and hoping for a sale fare usually means travelers will pay more. 
If you have a solid beer destination in mind that currently requires an expensive air ticket, set up price drop alerts online. Kayak, Skyscanner, Google Flights and will send email alerts when airfares go on sale for a specific destination and date.
Affording more air travel to beer destinations involves being loyal to a major airline that possesses a hub in a nearby city. If you fly this airline enough to get a frequent flyer status boost to a superior level, you'll be rewarded with free upgrades, mileage boosts, companion fare certificates, sale fares and access to lounges with free food and drinks. For instance, if you frequently fly out of Atlanta, Delta should be your go-to airline. Atlanta-area beer travelers should also remember also to search Delta flights from Birmingham or Greenville (South Carolina), as these will usually connect in Atlanta and can sometimes provide substantial savings over flying direct. Charlotte (North Carolina) and Miami rank as major hubs for American Airlines. 
Points and Miles from Credit Cards
It's frustrating that actual flying doesn't earn you miles significantly, especially when booking the least expensive fares. These days, airlines award miles based on the amount of money the ticket costs rather than actual flying mileage. To rack up travel points for a beer trip, people should focus on earning points through everyday credit card spending. 
Once you've picked your loyalty airline in your hub city, do a bit of online research regarding credit cards that provide generous mileage bonuses based on monthly spending on the card. For example, the Delta Skymiles American Express offers huge mileage additions based on your spending. Sure, the card charges about a couple of hundred dollars a year as a membership fee, but frequent flyers will get this back several times over with free mileage air tickets, complimentary checked bags and annual companion fare certificates. Other cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, allow customers to designate bonus points toward miles with many airlines and hotel chains. Both cards offer generous airline mileage bonuses just for signing up and spending a certain amount during the first months. It's essential to pay off the balances on these cards in full at the end of each billing cycle. Finance charges can be costly and negate mileage bonuses quickly. If travel is a priority, use your mileage bonus credit card to pay for as many of your monthly purchases as you can, then watch your airline miles add up.
Do You Really Need a Rental Car?
The best advice regarding rental cars would be to avoid renting a car unless absolutely necessary. With convenient rideshare options available in most cities, who wants to be responsible for driving a rental car on a beer trip anyway? It can be stressful, inconvenient and unsafe. Also, car rental companies are masters of squeezing every penny out of customers. If you must rent a car, compare prices from several companies on websites such as Kayak, Expedia or Orbitz. Avoid shady, off-brand rental companies with low review scores, as these companies make money by forcing unnecessary options on customers, offering subpar vehicles and sometimes charging you for previous damage you didn't cause. 
Use a credit card at the car rental counter that offers full vehicle coverage, and decline the expensive car rental company insurance fees. Check with your credit card company and home car insurance firm to be sure you are fully covered. Never agree to pay more at the counter for a vehicle upgrade. Most times, the agents will push you to pay for a more expensive car because the cheaper car you booked is unavailable. You'll end up getting the upgrade for free in the end. Companies will also push you to pay for the full tank of gas that comes with the car so you won't have to fill the tank before returning the car. Never do this. Always bring the car back full. Imagine paying the rental company for an entire tank of fuel when picking up the car and then returning the vehicle with a half-full tank. Don't throw your money away.
When picking up a rental car, always make time to take a detailed video or photos of any preexisting dings or damage. Remember to look at the wheels and roof of the vehicle and check inside for damage to seats and windows. Without damage documentation before driving off, you could be charged for damage that you did not cause.
Where to Stay?
Use discount travel search sites like Hotwire, Kayak,, Vrbo, Agoda and TripAdvisor to find the best hotel deals. If hotel rooms in a particular city cost a fortune, consider other options like Airbnb that can put extra beer money in your pocket. When two couples or a group of four or so friends team up for a beer excursion, getting a two-bedroom house or apartment on Airbnb can save a ton over booking two expensive hotel rooms. If you are a government employee or belong to AAA or AARP, check the hotel's website for special discounts. 
When enjoying a beercation, always remember to stay safe and in tune with your body. Drinking lots of water, taking vitamin B supplements and spacing out beer stops with walking or food breaks go a long way in avoiding hangovers and not becoming "beered out." Splitting a beer flight with a friend during a brewery visit allows beer travelers to try a wide range of brews instead of just gulping down a pint. Above all, have fun and enjoy your beery travels!
Owen Ogletree has spent over 35 years traveling the world in search of exceptional craft beer. To join one of his popular and affordable group beer excursions, CLICK HERE.
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