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The South will Rise Again

by Kevin Howells
Features April 9, 2009      
Written by CheersMate

Portland (Sellhood), OREGON -

Even though the introduction might seem a bit discouraging, relax. What I have to say has nothing to do with Ulysses S. Grant (the man loved his Old Crow), or Robert E. Lee. What I have to say should be uplifting for all Southerners. Hell, I was born in Connecticut, so don’t judge me. I am as big of a Yank as the next Rhode Islander, or New Yorker, so don’t think I am going to bloviate about Southern pride. I hate sweet tea, I think Southern food is mediocre, and hate the heat.

Ok, now that we can forget about the bad history of the South, we can start to look forward to the promising “Beer Future”. I moved here (to Georgia) with my family as a high school student; the old man got a new job. With the parents now retired in Seattle, Washington (a beer Mecca compared to Georgia), I am still stuck in Georgia, attending my last few years of college. I had no idea what the beer culture was like in Georgia at the time of my arrival in Georgia. The beer I knew of came in 30-packs and hampered my wallet to the tune of $15. It was the type of beer that we all at one point would have rather funneled than enjoyed it for what it really is/was i.e. beer. With age comes wisdom, beer wisdom that is. I tried to Google “the best beer in the world” and was directed to Ratebeer.com. The rest is history - the site opened my eyes to the available beers we had in Georgia.

After discovering which beers were available, I was unaware of the drab history that preceded my beer adventure(s). It wasn’t until 2004 that Georgia politicians removed their head from their anal cavities and decided to increase the beer alcohol by volume limit from 6% to 14%. One would think that this opened the floodgates for beer, unfortunately, and only until recently, this was not the case.

When I first started to visit local liquor stores I noticed the likes of St. Bernardus Abt 12, and a lot of the better known Belgian ales e.g. Rochefort Trappistes ales. There were even some American “microbrews” that I noticed at the time i.e. Sierra Nevada, Sweetwater, Terrapin, and Left Hand breweries. This was enough to keep me happy for awhile, but with research and a bit of curiosity came disappointment. I saw Hair of the Dog, Russian River, Bell’s, Surly, Three Floyds, Weyerbacher, Alesmith, and Stone all at my fingertips. I would log on to Ratebeer.com and see all of the happy people in the Northeast, Midwest, and on the West coast talk about all of their happy beer experiences. As I sat drinking and wanting more, I began to wonder, where is all of the beer in Georgia?

After pondering this question, I did some more research and realized that we have a very formidable 3-tier beer distribution system i.e. a local brewer cannot sell to an individual, but must sell to the distributor, who then sells to the patron, hence, 3-tier. This distribution system has severely limited our chances in Georgia of receiving some of the finest beers in America, and from all over the world.

Again, that is until recently. A light from Heaven has shown upon our little Southern state, and with this light, God has given us the chance to receive thy manna from Heaven which came in the form of good beer, and believe me he who gathered much did not gather too much at all. I have much to live for with the recent arrival of many exciting breweries. I walked into the liquor store about two years ago and noticed Mr. Ungstrup’s favorite beer, Victory Storm King Imperial Stout. This moment in my life was somewhat of an augury or epiphany, if you will. After its arrival, it’s as if beer herpes had spread through the South. I began to see Weyerbacher, Flying Dog, Duck-Rabbit Head, Anchor, Full Sail, Dieu du Ciel, Harpoon, Mikkeller, Oskar Blues, Stone and more varieties of beer from Left Hand, Sierra Nevada, Terrapin, Great Divide, Lagunitas, and Rogue beers, just to name a few!

The point in all of this is the gamut of available beers in Georgia is growing at an exponential rate and hopefully, around the country as well. This should be an exciting point in every Georgians’ life. Fear not Georgians! The beer gates are still open as we are expecting Bell’s Brewery and New Belgium Brewing in the near future. The 3-tier distributors have bowed down to the requests of their patrons. Yes, all of this is possible, and all beer enthusiasts are experiencing an exciting time in beer culture. There are simply too many wonderful beers out there to be held back from those who are dying of thirst.

So you see everyone! There is hope for every beer market around the country; even if that market reminds you of your college refrigerator. The beer market is expanding. Time heals all wounds, and the prohibition wounds are still being felt in Georgia, but this convalescent is getting better! Beseech your local suppliers to have the impetus to bring in great beers. Talk to the liquor stores, and see what you can do about the beer droughts that are going around. I have faith in all of my fellow Ratebeerians, and I hope to see your Flickr pictures loaded with beers from all around the United States, and even the world.


mixmasterob says:

Right on. I’d say this is as true as it’s ever been right now. New stuff seems to be popping up everyday.

90 months ago
BeerVirgin72 says:

Good read! Recently spent some time in Georgia and I was impressed!!!

105 months ago
BBB63 says:

We have the three tier system in Indiana and are able to get lots of world class beers and even better we also make some of them. Sorry but the South will NEVER be the equal to anywhere else in the US, the best brewery in Georgia shut it's doors years ago.

105 months ago
BMan1113VR says:

I know how you feel... we still have the three tier system here in TX...seems like things are slowly improving though...

105 months ago
beastiefan2k says:

I have no idea who you are but I love your avatar.

105 months ago
douglas88 says:

Nice article. In Utah we have had similar changes. At least we never had an ABV cap.

105 months ago

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start quote The point in all of this is the gamut of available beers in Georgia is growing at an exponential rate... end quote