The Beer Drinker’s Guide to the Appalachian Trail [Georgia Edition]

Originally posted on The Trek on August 31st, 2016

Some may say doing a thru hike is like being on a very long vacation, but after a few days in the woods and as you’re approaching town, it can be nice to enjoy a vacation from your vacation! I like to partake by dabbling in what I dream about while on the trail (aside from copious amounts of town food), CRAFT BEER! I normally will budget and go the macrobrew route for the sake of pinching pennies, and free trail magic beer is great, but occasionally I’ll go splurge. Deep down inside, I hate to admit it, but I’m a beer snob!

There are numerous breweries, brew pubs, and bars found in and around trail towns where people of age can pack on those liquid calories and calm those aching muscles. Aside from stuffing my face with food and deodorizing myself and my clothes, I like to set up shop at the local watering holes to see what each state has to offer. Here are some (but of course, not ALL), of the places worth checking out along the trail state-by-state. For the start of this journey we’ll head on down south to the state of Georgia to see what dixieland has to offer! Beer Me Georgia!

ATLANTA:

If you’re heading NOBO, you may be flying into the A.T.L. before getting a taxi, shuttle, etc. to your starting point in Amicalola Falls State Park (or you may be flying out of Atlanta if traveling SOBO). Before hitting the trail, you may want to explore and get that last dose of big city society while you still can. I haven’t explored Atlanta myself (although I have experienced some of their local brews), but through friends and rating sites, I made a very, very small list of recommendations (keep in mind, Atlanta has A LOT to offer in the beer world!).

Little Five Points (photo credit: Pawell Loj)
Little Five Points (photo credit: Pawell Loj)
  • The Porter Beer Bar – Located in the heart of Little Five Points, this bar and restaurant provides a casual dining experience with up to 44 beers available on draft and 700 bottled beers from all over the US (with a large selection from Georgia). They also have a wide selection from other countries like Canada, Japan, and all across Europe, and it is also rumored to have a speakeasy with more beer to choose from if you can find it! Contact: 1156 Euclid Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30307; 404-223-0393; https://www.theporterbeerbar.com

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  • The Brick Store Pub – In the outskirts of Atlanta in Decatur on the square, you not only get one, but two bars inside the Brick Store Pub! The main bar has a frequently rotated beer selection including about 29 on draft and 75 bottled. After visiting Antwerp, the owners were inspired to create a Belgium bar upstairs with different Belgium and Belgium-style brews; 8 on draft and about 120 bottled. They also have accumulated about 900 vintage brews in their cellar from all over the globe which is one of the largest selections in the country. Contact: 125 E. Court Square, Decatur, GA 30030; 404-687-0990; https://www.brickstorepub.com

DAHLONEGA:

If you’re like me, you may take the road trip route to Amicalola, and just before getting there, you can stop at the small town of Dahlonega (pronounced “”dah-lon-igah”). In that case, I recommend:1919570_818423934970355_2583481459467638745_n

  • Spirits Tavern – They have a good selection of local craft beer on draft and a bottled selection as well. Some local brews they frequently carry would be from Monday Night Brewing based out of Marietta and Terrapin from Athens, Georgia. Sabrina, the owner of Spirits also suggested to try Eagle Creek’s “Georgia Tea Party” (Sweet Tea Amber Ale) from Statesboro, and Cherry Street Brewing Co-op’s “Hoppy Balboa vs. Apollo Green” (Imperial IPA) from Cummings, Georgia. Both brews are occasionally available to enjoy at the tavern. They also carry a good wine selection and signature craft cocktails if you’re less in the mood for beer. If you’re stomach’s growling, you’re in luck since they have a delicious food menu with numerous yummy burgers to choose from, and fun snacks like fried green beans and mac & cheese bites. Contact: 19 E. Main Street, Dahlonega, GA 30533; 706-482-0580;  https://www.spirits-tavern.com/

***Note: I wasn’t able to get a clear response on liquor laws in Lumpkin County, but it appears in the Dahlonega area that beer, wine, and liquor can all be sold through retail, and in licensed bars/restaurants during all days of the week although hours may vary. 

SUCHES:

The first town that you will be able to visit will be the town of Suches (pronounced “such-is”). I don’t believe there are any places where you can purchase beer in general (note: I contacted Wolfpen Gap Country Store and they do not sell beer). However, if this changes after 2016, you can get to Suches by traveling 2.7 miles West on USFS 42 from Gooch Gap or 2 miles West on GA 60 from Woody Gap.

***Note: Union County doesn’t allow the retail sale of distilled spirits, but beer and wine can be sold Monday-Saturday (no Sunday sales). You can however buy distilled spirits by the drink in select restaurants (just not by the bottle).

BLAIRSVILLE:

So you’ve finally arrived at Neel Gap. You can hitch 14 miles West along US 19 into the quaint little town of Blairsville. One place I went to that stood out to me was:

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  • The Bearding Bottle Shop – Tom the general manager greeted us kindly even though the 6 of us had just gotten off the trail and smelled horribly (please spare poor Tom the trail cologne and shower before you go there if you can, unlike us!). If you’re of age, he’ll let you sample one or all of the 4 beers on tap (and there’s usually a non-alcoholic beverage to sample as well) at no charge, and will amaze you with his knowledge of them. I was seriously blow away by all the information he provided for each regarding where they’re brewed, how they’re brewed (sometimes down to the science), and a little history as well. Tom really knows his beer, and won’t stall a second if you ask him about anything sold in his shop! Some common Georgia brews sold on tap and on the floor are, but by no means limited to: Red Hare Brewing Co. (Marietta), Three Taverns Brewery (Decatur), Jekyll Brewing (Alpharetta), Second Self Beer Co. (Atlanta), and Coastal Empire Beer Co. (Savannah). They carry a wide selection of craft beers from across the US as well, and pack a lot in such a small shop. Contact: 6 Town Square, Suite D, Blairsville, GA 30512; 706-745-2337; https://beardingbottleshop.com CLOSED

***Note: Union County doesn’t allow the retail sale of distilled spirits, but beer and wine can be sold Monday-Saturday (no Sunday sales). You can however buy distilled spirits by the drink in select restaurants (just not by the bottle).

HIAWASSEE:

I am unaware of anything notable in the beer world regarding Hiawassee, but certain grocery stores (ie. Ingles Market) may have a decent selection to choose from. Just make sure that if you’re staying at a hostel they’re alcohol friendly (ie. Top of Georgia Hostel does not allow alcohol at their establishment).

flat-glass-of-beer Update: Shortly after posting, I received information regarding an awesome beer shop located in Hiawassee by the name of Bacchus Beer & Growlers. They have 16 taps to choose from, most of them being from GA brewing companies. I was informed by a fellow hiker that they provide plastic milk jugs for hikers on the go, and that they’re super knowledgeable about local brews. It appears they also sell wine and they’re closed Sundays. Contact: 355 North Main Street, Hiawassee, GA 30546; 706-896-9947; https://bacchusbeerandgrowlers.com

***Note: Towns County doesn’t allow the retail sale of distilled spirits, but beer and wine can be sold Monday-Saturday no later than midnight. No Sunday sales unless passed in the City of Hiawassee (city limits) starting November 2016. You can however buy distilled spirits by the drink in select restaurants (just not by the bottle).

HELEN:

Believe it or not, there is a little German-themed resort town in Georgia by the name of Helen! You can travel there by hitching 9 miles East on GA 75 from Unicoi Gap. There’s a German-style beer store there called the:

Das Boot!
Das Boot!!! Well… it sounds right in English.
  • Alpine Brew-Bottle Haus – most of the beer to choose from are German beers, but they also carry a small selection of craft beer from Georgia and elsewhere. You can mix-and-match some single beers and they even sell wine and liquor. Contact: 8265 S. Main Street, Helen, GA 30545; 706-878-3196

***Note: White County doesn’t allow the retail sale of distilled spirits, beer and wine on Sundays, but allow them to be sold by the drink in select restaurants (just not by the bottle).


Some Suggested Georgia Brews for your Enjoyment:

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  • Orpheus Brewing Co. (Atlanta) – Atalanta Tart Plum Saison, ABV: 5.25%
  • Creature Comforts Brewing Co. (Athens) – Tropicália American IPA, ABV: 6.5%
  • SweetWater Brewing Co. (Atlanta) – Hash Brown American Brown Ale, ABV: 6.2%
  • Terrapin Beer Co. (Athens) – Hopsecutioner American IPA, ABV: 7.3%
  • Wild Heaven Craft Beers (Decatur) – Invocation Belgian-style Golden Ale, ABV: 8.5%

Please Drink Responsibly! Cheers!

Thumb it north to check out what North Carolina & Tennessee and Virginia have to offer!

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