Combined Travel: Savannah May 26, 2015 The Flight Plan By: Shawndra Russell Savannah: Georgia’s Southern Belle, Savannah, has recently jumped on the craft beer wave with three of their four breweries opening their tasting room and production brewery doors in 2014. Before the opening of Service Brewing, Southbound Brewing Co., and Coastal Empire Beer Co., only one place in town was brewing beer: Moon River Brewing, which is much more restaurant than brewery. Now, Savannah can be a beer lovers’ destination not just for its breweries but also for several beer-centric bars, too. Here’s how to spend a great weekend in Savannah. Sip Due to Georgia’s somewhat stringent laws regarding breweries, Savannah’s are only up for a few hours at a time. The first and third Saturdays of the month is when you’ll find all three open, so aim for that to take a tour of each and taste samples. Service Brewing Co. Service is the only production brewery in the historic, walkable area of downtown Savannah and resides in a gorgeous, exposed brick warehouse space. Service launched by partnering with local artists to create unique tap handles, and they continue to integrate into the community through their focus on giving back to charities that support service to veterans. Easy drinking year round brews plus plenty of experimental choices on tap. SouthBound Brewing Co. Southbound had to fight the good fight to gain breweries in Savannah the right to even have tours and tastings, and the battle continues as they team up with other Georgia brewers and rally to be able to sell beer, too. In the meantime, they offer tours that are part educational, part backyard party with cornhole and live music. The Scattered Sun Belgian Wit and Hoplin’ IPA are fan favorites. Coastal Empire Beer Co. Coastal started slow and steady, first as a contract brewery and then opening their own location in Midtown at the end of 2014. Their claim to fame? The first week their beers were shipped and they were officially introduced to the public, Coastal took home the People’s Choice Award at the Savannah Craft Brew Fest with their Savannah Brown Ale. Moon River Brewing Company Moon River has been brewing since 1999, and the experience shows with a cask tapped every Wednesday and a standing tradition of six o’clock toasts that draws crowds. Yet Brewmaster John Pinkerton makes sure to mix things up too with inventive brews like the Sombra de la Marmota, aged in tequila barrels, and he added a beer garden in 2013 that’s one of the best open-air spots downtown. Pinkerton has been one of the loudest voices for improving the rights of brewers in Georgia, and he founded Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, currently still serving as President. Other Beer Spots Other great places to try some suds are World of Beer—over 500 choices—and my favorite, Crystal Beer Parlor, which has a solid bottle list and 25+ beers on tap curated to delight, like Weyerbacher Double Simcoe, Stone Japanese Green Tea, and Ommengang Three Philosophers. Crystal Beer Parlor also has the charming ‘Beers of our Fathers’ list, filled with throwbacks like Dixie, Schlitz, and Stroh’s—breweries that all date back at least 100 years. Nearby Distillery Ale House is Savannah’s original craft beer bar, with the motto, “No crap, just craft” and I highly recommend their signature Deep Fried Moonpie paired with a stout. Stay Savannah’s downtown is dotted with hotels, but for the extra shot of hospitality, try one of the Bed and Breakfasts of Savannah. All walking distance to downtown, and all in historical buildings. Pick up beers for your stay at The Beer Growler or Hops & Barley. Savor The Bier Haus doesn’t own a freezer (no, really) so your sausages, spatzel, and daily specials are all super fresh. Plus, the owner is obsessed with great beer, with ten on draft and over 100 in bottles—heavy on the Belgian and German varieties. Craving a burger and beer? Green Truck Pub is considered the best burger joint in town with the added bonus that the owner loves craft beer. This neighborhood spot often hosts tap takeovers and other beer events, plus their bottle list always sports a few new-to-me choices. See Catch the best sunset view at TopDeck while you enjoy appetizers and craft cocktails, and be sure to take a stroll through Forsyth Park, arguably the prettiest spot in Savannah. Don’t forget you can also carry your drinks on the streets in Savannah, so consider a self-guided beer and square crawl. Want a little more hands-on experience? Opt for the Savannah Taste Food Tours, which stops at a handful of locals’ favorites and provides plenty of opportunities for refills. Or, go for the full-on beer experience with Savannah Suds, hitting four beer-loving locations. Getting Here Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is only about 20 minutes from downtown, and Amtrak has a station in the heart of downtown. Traveling by car is easy northbound or southbound on I-95, then a quick mile on I-16 drops visitors into the belly of downtown.