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2023 Georgia Best in Beer Recap

Georgia Beer Day 2023
Brandon Cohran

Here we are again – counting down the days of in-laws, traveling, stress and everything in between – and just strolling through the light shows until the calendar flips to January. Overall, it’s been a great year for the Georgia beer scene, but there are certainly reasons to be a little bah-humbug about the year in review, as closures happened more frequently than in any year in memory. But, this article is all about the great things that happened in 2023, so as usual, grab a glass, pour a pint and let’s highlight the great moments of Georgia beer.

Favorite Beers of the Year

Pilsen Liberation | Three Taverns Brewery

While this Hoppy Pilsner had a new look in 2023, there’s a reason that it still is on this list like it was last year. We waited on this beer from the last can of the 2022 release and it was absolutely worth every minute. The classic Saaz hops paired perfectly with the YCH Veteran’s Blend and reminded us all that Three Taverns is Georgia staple for a reason. Damn good.

 

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Dream Machine Double IPA | Inner Voice Brewing

Inner Voice is one of the newer spots, ~two years or so, but they have done nothing except seemingly release banger after banger since starting. There’s likely a few Hoppy beers of theirs that could be up here like Simcoe City, Citra Citra or Lazy Bones, but for us Dream Machine really stole the show. It’s juicy and soft with bursting citrus and a dank profile on the palate. It’s a Double IPA through and through, but sheesh, it’s one that is easy to enjoy.

Read the Room Brown Ale | Good Word Brewing

Listen, right off the bat, the rules are simple: if you think about a beer months after having it, it goes on the list. This is that. Yeah, an English Brown Ale that was one of the favorite beers of the year we enjoyed. Good Word Brewing continues to be an absolute beam of light in the Georgia scene as damn near every release is just as great as the one before it. Read the Room is an exceptional example of the style, but it stands on its own as well.

 

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Honorable Mentions

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Sour | Drowned Valley Brewing Co.
You Know It’s True BA Stout | Two Tides Brewing Co.
Sanguine Belgian Pale Ale | Halfway Crooks Beer

 

Best Beer Events

Little Beer III

The third iteration of Good Word Brewing’s Little Beer Festival was as exciting as ever. It was arguably the best version of the now three-time running best event in Georgia for beer drinkers. Same as always, the focus was on low-ABV Lagers and Ales from across the country, but there’s always a healthy presence of Georgia breweries represented. It’s always fun to see what folks come up with, as last year featured a few barrel or oak-aged beers from Pilsners to Stouts. There’s an early indication that this event will likely find its way on this list next year, too.

Georgia Beer Day

Each of the last couple Springs, typically in March, the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild works with breweries across the state to highlight the work and passion of Georgia breweries on a designated day. There’s to-keep glassware for customers and a lot of places will try and line up a special release for the day. It’s a great event that happens at breweries across the state so many of the Georgia faithful are able to celebrate and raise a glass together.

Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting Festival

This event is always a pleasure to attend just because of the one-off casks that breweries create for the event. There’s always something out-of-the-box and unique to try, whether it’s an oak-aged IPA or funky Sour and everything in between. Bold Monk is a hell of place to host as well, since there’s beers just about everywhere you look. The next one is coming up soon, by the way, so grab tickets while you can!

 

New Breweries in 2023

Crooked Culture Brewing | Cumming
Elsewhere Brewing Greenhouse | West Midtown
Tvelo Brewing Co. | Thomasville
Laurel Canyon Brewing | Canton

 

Biggest Moves of 2023

Creature Comforts Opens L.A. Location

What seems like old news at this point is finally official news as Creature Comforts opened its long awaited downtown Los Angeles location. This made a huge splash when it was announced back in 2021, and it certainly took a little longer than expected, but they crossed the finish line and have been serving pints for a month or so now.

There were several breweries who opened or announced plans for additional locations in 2023. Elsewhere Brewing opened their second location, the Greenhouse, in West Midtown. Fire Maker Brewing and Round Trip Brewing, two Atlanta staples at this point, announced second locations outside of the city as Fire Maker is renovating an old mill building in Griffin and Round Trip is opening a spot at the Avenue in East Cobb. NoFo Brew Co. opened their new spot in Gainesville also.

Biggest Story of 2023

This is a really unfortunate part of this article. We’ve spent time highlighting great beers, breweries and events throughout the recap, but now is an issue that we have to talk about. 2023 saw a handful of brewery closures across the state, and some of them were shocking, to say the least. Orpheus Brewing ceased operations, although some of their portfolio is still being packaged by Bevana. Pontoon Brewing also announced a closure due to an ongoing issue and battle with their distribution partner. Second Self, Ironshield Brewing, Anderby Brewing and Candler Rail also were forced to close their doors this year. Blackbird Farms Brewing in Lilburn also closed.

It’s easy to speculate as to why or how breweries could close in today’s seemingly ever-growing market, but this shows that the industry isn’t immune. The laws in Georgia are still restrictive and favor the other tiers of the system than the producers. The Georgia Craft Brewers Guild is fighting to change that, but while that’s happening some of the oldest and most respected breweries are having to close. Hopefully, this is the last time that closures are the big story of the year, as previously expansions and growth was the standard. Here’s hoping for that. Cheers.


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