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Oct. 17, 2019
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Beer fests flowing around Lake Lanier

By Jane Harrison
 
The suds are flowing from one end of Lake Lanier to the other as fall kicks many boaters off the water and into hibernation. From the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River to Buford Dam, beer suds top off seasonal festivities celebrating the craft brew craze in the region.
 
New breweries and tap rooms seem to spring up monthly in the region, spurred by Georgia’s loosening of alcohol restrictions a couple of years ago. And, festivals starring the amber liquid are popping up around the lake. Here’s a rundown on several this month:
 
Best of Georgia Craft Beer Festival. Hosted by Tannery Row Ale House in Buford, the Oct. 26 outdoor festival at the Buford Community Center is the first alcohol-related event permitted by the city. Tannery Row co-owner Brian Campbell welcomed the opportunity to throw the celebration close to his Buford restaurant. “This is the fourth-year,” for the festival, he said. “Last year it was in Sugar Hill.” He hopes Buford will remain home for the beer extravaganza showcasing 30-35 Georgia breweries, plus corn hole tournaments, food trucks, and music.
 
The restaurant offers fest-goers a double dose of fun with shuttles and discounts to the ale house annual Paranormal Party that evening. The Halloween party usually fills the house with 500-600 pre-holiday fun-seekers.
 
Info: 4-7 p.m. Oct. 26, Buford Community Center, 2200 Buford Hwy. Unlimited samples with $25 wristband. Paranormal Party, Tannery Row Ale House, 554 W. Main.
 
 • Laketoberfest. Held the same day as the larger celebration downstream, the inaugural festival at Lake Lanier Olympic Park grew from the popular Food Truck Fridays rolled out two years ago. “The past two years the park has been branching out and exploring different community events, so we decided to plan an Octoberfest- inspired event on the lake. With the success of Food Truck Fridays it definitely played a key role in our planning of this event,” said James Watson, Interim Division Manager overseeing the day to day operations of the park.
 
Expect food trucks, live music, and brews from Gainesville’s Tap It Growlers on the plaza overlooking the lake. Watson said he is seeking other venders, but was not ready to make announcements in late September. Local songwriter/guitarist Caleb Davidson will serenade fest-goers with music from all genres. No word on whether he’ll end his sets with “The Chicken Dance,” the all-time favorite from a similar-named Bavarian festival in Helen.
 
Info: 6-10 p.m. Oct. 26, Lake Lanier Olympic Park, 3105 Clarks Bridge Rd., Gainesville. $10 includes souvenir cup and one drink ticket.
 
Fest of Ale. This elegant event originated from beer’s arguably more refined cousin, wine. For the finale of this year’s “Wine in the Woodlands,” the Gainesville Garden of the Atlanta Botanical Garden will include fall-themed beers. “We’ll still have more wine than beer,” said Cyndilyn Loudermilk, garden visitors services manager.
 
Beers from six breweries flowed along the garden paths in the initial ale fest last year. Loudermilk did not specify how many taps would open this month. Expect different food from the usual woodland fare. Loudermilk described an evening of “midway type food,” funnel cakes, cotton candy and fun food typically on hand at festivals and fairs. In late September, she had not confirmed the evening’s live music performer.
 
The garden happy hour is the last Thursday from May to October and happens to fall on Halloween this month. “But we’re not specifically targeting it as a Halloween event,” Loudermilk said.

Info: 6-9 p.m. Oct. 31, Gainesville Garden of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1911 Sweet Bay Dr. Garden admission, members free, cash bar.
 
Oktoberfest. The Oma of them all, the October festival of beer, brats and lederhosen started 49 years ago in Helen, near the Chattahoochee River’s origin. Fest-goers put down their beer cups to polka or free-style it on the dance floor to lively German-themed tunes blasted from alp horns, cowbells and accordions. The city, modeled after an Alpine village, claims to host the longest running Octoberfest in the U.S. Expect frothy heads of Hefeweizen, pilsner, plus other traditional brews.

Info: Daily through Oct. 27, 6 p.m.-midnight Sun.-Fri., 1 p.m.-midnight Sat., Helen Festhalle, 1074 Edelweissse St. Admission $8 weekdays, $10 Sat., free on Sun.  

Posted online 9.27.19
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