Here’s an interview with the founder of Georgia’s longest running beer festival, Owen Ogletree.
Well it's going to be nuts in Athens, Georgia, on April 7th, and we have the founder of the 18th annual Classic City Beer Fest, Owen Ogletree, breaking down all of the special happenings he has in store from 2:30 to 6 pm, including the hundreds of hard-to-find ales and lagers being poured; and the beer scene in Athens, which is home to both the Georgia Bulldogs and Terrapin Beer Company, to name a few.
Owen—a beer writer, Europe beer tour host, BJCP National beer judge, and the editor for www.Brewtopia.info—is no stranger to the craft brew movement nor this website, where he was interviewed about his other stellar event, the annual Atlanta Cask Tasting here. Ultimately, you will see why Classic City continues to be not only Georgia’s longest running beer fest, but one of the most revered beer festivals in the nation after reading this Q & A. There is also a listing of some highlights to look forward to, and a sneak peek of some of the amazing beers being offered, so if you didn't get your tickets, pray there are a couple left. It’s going down in Athens!
Now let’s kick it with Owen.
What can we expect with BrewFest this year and what makes it different?
We've got somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 amazing, world-class beers on hand, with lots of regional brewpubs showing up to pour their beers. The Cask Ale Pavilion alone is worth the price of admission— 17 one-off, unique casks done just for the Classic City Brew Fest— all under one roof in the scenic Foundry wedding pavilion. We like to stay classy. There will also be live music from Tropical Breeze, a local Caribbean-style band led by a retired faculty member of the UGA music school. They are quite awesome.
The Foundry & Melting Point complex provides three ballrooms, an outdoor patio, music hall and outdoor cask pavilion for attendees to enjoy the BrewFest in an attractive, non-crowded set of fun venues. Attendees think it's cool to walk from one venue to the next to see what beers are on offer in the different spots.
Well damn! Let’s go to the beginning. What made you start Classic City?
I traveled to Denver back in 1994 and 1995 to attend the Great American Beer Festival and foolishly thought that it would be easy to bring a big beer festival to Athens, GA. I didn't realize at the time just how much work running a good beer festival truly is. I started the Classic City Brew Fest back in 1996 with a friend of mine, and the first year almost killed us, but everyone talked us into doing it a second year, and I have not looked back since.
Can you list some of the highlights we can expect for your 18th installment?
Sure! Here you go:
· Our popular Cask Ale Pavilion serves 15+ unique cask ales, and attendees can vote for People's Choice casks while they sip these one-off batches.
· The Foundry & Melting Point complex provides three ballrooms, an outdoor patio, music hall and outdoor cask pavilion for attendees to enjoy the BrewFest in an attractive, non-crowded set of fun venues.
· Each ticket this year comes with a free digital subscription to Beer Connoisseur magazine.
· On the Friday and Saturday before the BrewFest, you can enjoy great tours of Terrapin Beer Company, special tappings and tastings at Trappeze, and aromas [craft works] pubs during Athens Craft Beer Weekend that culminates on Sunday with the Classic City Brew Fest! Athens' Copper Creek brewpub is now also open on Sundays.
Okay, now hit us off with just a few of the 300-plus brews being offered. I can’t wait for this. Drumroll, please…
Ha! Let’s do it! Here are just a few noteworthy examples of what’s pouring:
· Dogfish Head/Sierra Nevada Rhizing Bines
· Dogfish Head Noble Rot
· Lagunitas Undercover Shutdown
· Stift Engelszell Gregorious Austrian Trappist Ale
· Heavy Seas Barrel Aged Siren Noire draft
· Heavy Seas Oak Aged Big DIPA draft
· The Bruery Saison de Lente draft
· The Bruery Tradewinds Tripel draft
· New Belgium La Folie draft
· New Belgium Transatlantic Kriek draft
· Cannon / JailHouse Breach of the Dammed draft
· Sierra Nevada Ovila Abbey Quad w/ Plums
· Max Lager's Dark Side India Black Ale
· Back Forty Brewing's Kudzu Porter draft
· Benediktiner Weissbier
· Unibroue 17 Grand Reserve
· LaTrappe Isid'or
· Cherry St. Dylan's Dubbel
· Wrecking Bar Son of a Beech Rauchbier draft
· Founders All Day IPA
· Founders Dirty Bastard (and KBS?)
· Redstone Sunshine Nectar Mead draft
· New Holland Dragon's Milk Oak Aged Stout
And here are just a few of our almost 20 casks…
· Wild Heaven White Blackbird that has been aged on Chardonnay oak. White Blackbird is a French Saison brewed with pink peppercorns and fresh lime zest
· Lazy Mag Southern Belle of the Ball Southern Pecan aged on pinot noir soaked oak chips with a hint of vanilla bean
· Jailhouse Saison Reprieve
· Mazurt aged in a room full of coconuts
· Max Lagers "My Cold Scottish Soul" blended St. Mungo Scottish ale and Cold Soul Winter (Rye) Lager aged in a High West Rye barrel
· Moon River The Bomb Dry Irish Stout w/ lavender
· Back Forty from AL
· Terrapin Mosaic Red Rye Ale
· Wrecking Bar Bourbon Barrel Siberius Maximus
· O’Dempsey’s Your Black Heart Russian Imperial Stout withblack cardamom, star anise, cocoa nibs and Northern Brewer hops
· Stone IPA dry-hopped
· Eagle & Lion Yes Face IPA
· Copper Creek
· Westbrook Brewing Udderly Oatmeal Milk Stout
· Burnt Hickory coffee vanilla cask of our graham cracker stout
· Cherry Street Nelson Sauvin Dry Hopped Guava Cream Ale
· Twain’s Black Eye Roasted Rye India Black Ale dry-hopped with Galaxy hops
· Blue Tarp Bantam Weight Ale dry hopped with Kent Goldings hops
· Highland Imperial Kashmir dry hopped with Simcoe
Okay, okay! I’m going nuts over here! Last question: Let’s show the surrounding city of Athens some love because it’s truly becoming one of the most legit beer hubs in the South and beyond.
Absolutely! In the past 30 years, I've seen the Athens beer scene truly blossom. Terrapin Beer Company provides a superb tour and tasting experience at their microbrewery. Trappeze is one of the very best craft beer pubs in the state, and offers a really relaxed, friendly, laid-back atmosphere in which to sip some of the best craft beers available in the state. Our small Copper Creek brewpub cranks out four delicious house beers. Aromas Craft Works has ten taps filled with top brews, and the Five Points Bottle Shops easily rank as two of the best craft beer shops in the Southeast. Just a few miles south of Athens, Chops & Hops in Watkinsville, is quite an impressive gastropub with a tantalizing array of menu items and draft and bottled beers.
On the Friday and Saturday before the BrewFest, you can enjoy great tours of Terrapin Beer Company and special tappings and tastings at Trappeze and Aromas pubs during Athens Craft Beer Weekend that culminates on Sunday with the Classic City Brew Fest! Athens' Copper Creek brewpub is now also open on Sundays, too.
Well I am looking forward to it. I am finally in town to attend my first Classic City, so let’s kick it when I am there. Tell Athens to get ready for Ale Sharpton!
Oh, we are ready for you! Bring it!
Hit up http://www.classiccitybrew.com/brewfest.html for more information, It’s evidently going to be outta control!