Breweries are booming across Georgia, serving up great beers, events and gathering places for the community. Follow this guide to start exploring Georgia's craft beer scene.
They may be found in warehouses, where the grind of machinery has been replaced with liquid gold and the sound of good times. Or, in new wide-open spaces where the conversation flows as easy as the beer.
Breweries are booming across Georgia, thanks in part to a law that went into effect on Sept. 1, 2017, which cut out the middleman and allowed brewers to sell their beverages direct to customers. The law made such an impact that 13 breweries opened in the 10 months after it passed.
Georgia's craft breweries are much more than unique spaces to sample brews. They've proven their value to their communities by providing jobs, serving as gathering spots and building a brand to stand behind. For those in the state's smaller cities and towns, they're often a beacon for visitors and tourists, and have been at the forefront of downtown revitalization efforts.
Having been around since 1993, Atlanta Brewing Company claims to be the oldest craft brewery in Atlanta. And don't be confused by the signs when you pull up to its northwest Atlanta locale; it's also known as Red Brick Brewing Company. You'll find artisanal-quality beers in a souvenir glass—a must-have memento for a brewery road trip.
SweetWater Brewing Company
A jumping fish and vibrant labels are easily recognized as belonging to SweetWater Brewing Company. Like Atlanta Brewing Company, it's an established veteran in this field. Not many of its brethren can claim they've been around since 1997 like SweetWater, which produces and promotes a laid-back vibe and easy access to Interstate 85.
Orpheus Brewing is located next to Piedmont Park, which makes it the perfect place to hang out with friends and pets on a weekend, or before or after one of the many festivals at the park. Be sure to check out the intricate labels, which are created by Atlanta artists.
Brews in the burbs
Much like I-285, craft breweries ring Atlanta.
Jekyll Brewing Co.
Taking its name from the coastal Georgia island, Jekyll Brewing has paved the way for craft breweries in the northern suburb of Alpharetta. And on the topic of branding, you may be amused by the names of their beers, such as Hop Dang Diggity, Southern Juice, Cooter Brown and 'Merican Amber.
With a variety of monthly theme nights, such as books and board games, Reformation Brewery in downtown Woodstock doubles as a fun hangout and community center. The brewery plans to open another location in nearby Canton this spring.
Gate City Brewing Company
Heading north of Atlanta, stop by Gate City Brewing Company, housed in what used to be two Roswell mechanic shops. The brewhouse and taproom serves up to 20 house-brewed beers on draft and features live music on weekends.
Terrapin Beer Co.
Athens and beer have been a perfect pairing for a long time. Terrapin Beer Co. is a springtime destination for college students, visitors and their pets, who gather at the former textile factory for tours, music and picnics on the lawn. The brand began in 2002, and it recently built on its popularity to open the Terrapin Taproom, which teamed with Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q at The Battery, next to SunTrust Park in Atlanta.
Creature Comforts Brewing Co.
Located within walking distance of college dive bars, Creature Comforts Brewing Co. made a space in a former car dealership and auto repair shop on the edge of downtown Athens, where it thrives in the midst of the college revelry. Try its Tropicalia and see why it's considered one of the top IPAs in the country.
Oconee Brewing Company
Expand the road trip and drive 45 miles south to Greensboro, where Oconee Brewing Company has set up shop just off I-20 in a community known for its lakes and golf courses.
River Watch Brewery
Or, you can stop there on your way to Augusta to check out the Masters and swing by River Watch Brewery, which is drawing visitors to downtown.
Macon Beer Company
Downtown Macon has been making a resurgence, thanks in part to breweries like the Macon Beer Company. This spot in Georgia’s Historic Heartland region playfully uses the city's name in the name of its beers, such as Macon Love, Macon Plays and, of course, Macon Money.
While in the region, make sure you have time to explore nearby LaGrange, where Wild Leap Brew Co. took over an old garage and tire shop. It often hosts events, like its grilled cheese contest on National Grilled Cheese Day in April.
Omaha Brewing Company
About 75 miles farther south, Omaha Brewing Company is bringing folks to rural Stewart County with its brands and tours.
Mercier Orchards, in the mountains about 3 miles from Blue Ridge, has long been a destination for foliage followers and apple tasters. But it's now producing wines and hard ciders, including the Grumpy Granny, made from Granny Smith apples.
Spend the night
Georgia Beer Co.
College buddies founded Georgia Beer Co., which proudly states it is Georgia’s southernmost brewery, located in Valdosta. Stop there for the brewery’s Field Party, a blonde ale, before crossing the border.
Eagle Creek Brewing Company’s connection to nearby Georgia Southern is evident in its name. Beautiful Eagle Creek, in the state’s Magnolia Midlands region, flows past the football team’s practice field. The first beer at the Statesboro brewery was poured on former coach Erk Russell’s birthday.
Service Brewing Co.
Make a visit to Savannah complete by stopping at Service Brewing Co. and Southbound Brewing Company, in Georgia's Coast region. A short stroll from the city's famed River Street, the names of the beers at Service Brewing Co. might give away that the owner is a U.S. Army vet. Beers here include Ground Pounder, Rally Point, Battlewagon and Gun Bunny. Southbound Brewing Company has been around since 2013 and sometimes offers uniquely sweet pairings, including donuts and Girl Scout cookies.
More to explore
Georgia's modern-day breweries are places where friends and family can while away the hours learning how beer is made, playing games and listening to live music, or trying out seasonal beers and ciders. Hit the road this season to get a taste of Georgia's unique craft beer offerings, and while you're at it, bring an empty growler or two, since “filling stations” have taken on a new meaning.