Beer Town: Hotoberfest is gone but other beer festivals live on

Credit: Bob Townsend

While beer lovers are celebrating the explosion of new craft breweries in Georgia, there are still some nagging questions about quantity versus quality. The same goes for beer festivals, which seem to peak this time of year.

After six years, the founders of the beer geek favorite, Hotoberfest, decided to take a break after the October 2013 edition of the festival in Historic Old Fourth Ward Park.

Alan Raines and co-founder Tryon Rosser helped start the East Atlanta Beer Festival in 2003, and launched Hotoberfest in 2008, with the big idea of creating an event that would appeal to serious beer drinkers.

But last year, Raines expressed serious misgivings about the number of beer festivals popping up around metro Atlanta, and explained the need to be different.

“When we started East Atlanta Beer Festival, there were only two others, Decatur and the one up around Perimeter Mall,” Raines said. “Since then, with the addition of all the festivals, primarily as money-generating events, we’ve really tried to add something new every year, and dial up our event to be something that stands apart from the rest.”

Raines and Rosser are planning a new, much smaller festival, which they hope to debut in June 2015. It will be based on the VIP portion of Hotoberfest, and feature rare and wood-aged beers.

“The VIP experience ticket at Hotoberfest was limited to 500 people,” Raines said, recently. “Having it smaller will eliminate a lot of the logistics and allow us to concentrate on getting great beers tapped directly from wooden barrels. And we may even incorporate some spirits tied to the barrels.

“The bottom line, I guess, is that we will leave the big festivals to the people who are doing them now. We want to attract enthusiasts interested in barrel-aged beers and a premium event. And we want to have a focus on Georgia craft beer and tie it to fundraising for the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild.”

More October Beer Festivals

If you’re missing Hotoberfest this year, here some other October beer events to check out.

Hop Harvest Festival — Saturday

Hosted by Terrapin Beer Co. at its Athens brewery, the Hop Harvest Festival always features the limited release of the fresh "wet hop" beer, So Fresh & So Green, Green. Live music, food vendors, an artisan market, a community art project, and a big selection of Terrapin beer favorites, plus eight special casks, each made with a specific hop, are part of the festivities. Pre-sale glass vouchers $20, with $5 of each sale donated to the Dogwood Alliance. 4:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday. 265 Newton Bridge Road, Athens, 706-549-3377.

Decatur Craft Beer Festival — Oct. 18

One of the original community beer tasting events, the Decatur Craft Beer Festival takes place on Decatur Square, offers a limited number tickets sold online, and always sells out early. But look for over 100 curated American craft beers, showcased along with live music and food for sale from local vendors. And you can always enjoy Decatur's bar and restaurant scene. $40 general/$100 VIP. Noon-5 p.m. Oct. 18. Decatur Square, Decatur.

Georgia Craft Brewers Festival — Oct. 25

The Georgia Craft Beer Festival is a new outdoor festival in Candler Park featuring over 30 Georgia breweries and benefitting the Georgia Craft Beer Guild. In its second installment, the festival will feature games, arts and crafts, live entertainment, edibles from some of the city's top food trucks, and over 100 craft beers to sample, plus early admission and other amenities for VIP ticket holders Tickets, $40-$75. Noon-6 p.m. Oct. 25. 1500 McLendon Ave., NE, Atlanta.

The Wing Cafe Rare & Vintage Beer Brunch — Oct. 25

The Wing Cafe in Marietta is putting its own spin on Hotoberfest with its First Annual Rare & Vintage Beer Brunch and Festival. Expect passed apps and small bites during the tasting, which takes place around the patio and tiki bar. Among the goodies on tap, Abita Baltic Porter aged in a Pappy Van Winkle barrel, Rodenbach Foederbier, Straffe Hendrick Heritage 2012, and Terrapin Pumpkin Pie Imperial Porter. Tickets, $65, include, food, beer, collectors glass, and swag. 2145 Roswell Road, Marietta, 770-509-9464.