The faithulness of the Bulldog fans draws countless visitors into the Classic City, but it’s the experiences shared while there that keep travelers coming back time and time again. Home of the reigning college football national champions, Athens’s fame now reaches far beyond the gridiron to the taproom. With characteristic craft breweries popping up each year, the creation of the Athens Beer Trail was inevitable.
Created by the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau and in collaboration with six breweries, the beer trail celebrates the local breweries and promotes their creative differences and tastes. These tasty differences are what make Athens the newest All-American beer town.
Not only is the trail easy to follow, but there’s a prize waiting at the end. Pick up the unique Field Guide at the Athens Welcome Center on Dougherty Street before you hit the trail. But don’t worry, if you head to the breweries first, simply tell the taproom staff you’re following the trail, and a guide is yours. Have a beer and get a stamp. And then on to the next brewery. Once you have collected all brewery stamps, stop by Athens Welcome Center and claim the prize. Currently, it’s a commemorative pilsner glass.
The newest addition to the beer trail is the Beer Trail Trolley, running Thursday and Friday afternoons and evenings. Allow the hop-on, hop-off trolley to be the designated driver for the tour. On Thursday, the trolley stops at breweries on the outer loop; on Friday, the inner loop. Meet at The Classic Center or at any brewery to make your way to the other locations. Since this is a new addition to the trail, the hope is that more stops and days will be added to the trolley schedule. Reservations are recommended at athenstrolleytours.com. The cost is $28, and riders must be 21.
The six breweries showcase the multitude of tastes of their brewmasters. From citrusy to earthy to floral to smoky, there’s a hop flavor or bitterness profile that you’ll love or one that will broaden your beer perspective. With the Athens Beer Trail, the opportunity for decision-making is only six breweries away. Here’s a taste of what you’ll find.
Akademia Brewing Co.
Co-founders Matt Casey and Morgan Wireman put this brewpub in motion in 2017, and it has quickly grown to one of the liveliest spots in the city. Promising “craft brews and great food,” Akademia is open daily. Home-brewed selections include pilsners, lagers, IPAs, stouts and sours. They also offer wine and cocktails. For the hungry owls on the weekend, there’s a Beer and Biscuit Brunch, which sounds odd but works deliciously. Try Brunch Therapy; it’s French Toast with chocolate stout reduction. Beer is better when paired with the ideal food, and a full menu of their favorite bites (from cheese curds to steak) greets everyone who stops in. akademiabc.com
Athentic Brewing Co.
“Crafting Good Times” leads life at Athentic. The staff celebrates the roots of the community while creating a beer based on quality products and community effort. What began as a hobby became a passion for co-founders Paul Skinner and Mark Johnson. The microbrewery became a family affair framed with patience for building the brewery of their dreams. Located in the Normaltown area of Athens, the brewery offers lagers, IPAs, pale ales, sours, ales and stouts, plus seltzers. In addition to brews, live music and events draw the crowds. athenticbrewing.com
Creature Comforts Brewing Co.
Creature Comforts Brewing Co., housed in the old Snow Tire building in downtown Athens, transformed the showroom into an indoor taproom and has become one of the most iconic gathering places in Athens. It has also garnered accolades from beer lovers across the United States, but none more so than the “Avengers: End Game” director Joe Russo, who fell in love with the beer and is helping to expand the brewery to Los Angeles. The brewery’s intense belief in humanity drives its purpose, values, legacy and product. Beers like Cosmik Debris, Tropicalia, and Athena are available year-round along with seasonals like Galactic Space Circus. creaturecomfortsbeer.com
Normaltown Brewing Co.
Small but mighty, Normaltown Brewing Co. welcomes visitors to its small space in one of the oldest areas of Athens. Sit at the bar, watch the game, and enjoy a single handmade brew or a flight. Many consider this one of the city’s best kept secrets. Doors are open Thursday through Sunday. normaltown-brewing-co.business.site
Southern Brewing Co.
Opened in 2015, Southern Brewing Co. sits on 15 acres of land about two miles outside Athens. With its tagline as “Athens Born. Southern Made,” Southern Brewing feeds off the vibrancy of Athens as well as the Southern tradition of hospitality. In seven years, founders Rick Goddard and Brian Roth have rolled out over 50 unique beers, collaborated with a wealth of entrepreneurs, and solidified their place in the brewing industry. sobrewco.com
Terrapin Beer Co.
As the senior member of the beer community, Terrapin Beer Co. laid the foundation for the beer scene in Athens. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, its beer can be found in more than 15 states across the Southeast and continues to expand its footprint. It was even proclaimed the official beer of “The Walking Dead.” In addition to the brewery and taproom, the new beer garden expands its space to the outdoors, providing an atmosphere where people, and pups, can gather. Favorites include the year-round Hopsecutioner, seasonal Oktoberfest, and if you want a little something different, Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Moo-Hoo or Spicy Margarita Gose. Brewery tours are free. terrapinbeer.com
For more information on the Athens Beer Trail, visit visitathensga.com.