Akademia Brewing Company is gearing up for its first-ever Athens Beer Week, an annual celebration of Classic City craft beer slated for April 9 through 15.
“Having more breweries in town other than Terrapin makes it really easy to have some exceptional events throughout the week,” said Owen Ogletree, founder of Brewtopia Events, LLC, which puts on the Classic City Brew Fest and promotes Athens Beer Week. “Akademia’s beer dinner looks fantastic. Terrapin’s Carnival is always a fun time with lots of special beers. Even the small events, like Hi-Lo’s Beer Trivia Night, are always fun. People are just gonna have to check out the entire list online and decide for themselves.”
The week kicks off with Akademia teaming up with its friends at Chops & Hops in Watkinsville, Georgia, for a tap takeover. Chops owner Andrew Wallace, along with bar manager Whitley McGeary, will mind the bar, pouring six different Akademia beers for guests. In addition to the draft specials, Night Owls will get to enjoy menu specials created by Akademia Chef Nate Eve, Chops Chef Josh Aaron and Sous Chef Arielle Hirsch — all made with beers available during the tap takeover.
“I wanted to pair up with Akademia for its first Athens Beer Week beause of the quality of beer that has been put out so far, and I love supporting local breweries,” Wallace said.
Chops & Hops has participated in Athens Beer Week since it began, he said. Though Wallace wouldn’t divulge too much, he did hint that crab and avocado spring rolls may be up for grabs during the tap takeover.
“I’m super excited that we are able to have the relationship that we do with Chops & Hops,” Eve said. “They are really doing some cool things over there as far as food.”
Eve’s preparing a fried calamari appetizer to pair with The Dom kölsch-style ale for the tap takeover and will collaborate on an entrée special with Aaron.
“The key is in the batter. More times than not, fried calamari is far too heavy. My idea is to cut this heaviness down and batter with cornstarch to create a different, more light texture so your palate isn’t overwhelmed,” Eve said.
Events at Akademia
A special beer dinner will take place at the brewpub on Tuesday. Tickets are available for $55 each, and include pours of four Akademia beers, three dishes curated by Eve and a pint glass. The front Beer Hall area of the brewpub is reserved for craft beer fans who want to enjoy a community atmosphere and an intimate discussion about Akademia’s ales and how its kitchen team pairs them with cuisine.
“Beer dinners are a fantastic opportunity to develop a new appreciation for familiar beers and discover new beers,” said Aaron Martin, beer consumption coordinator at Akademia. “The idea behind a beer dinner is you pay a set amount to come in and have a full experience. All the food and beers are deliberately chosen with an eye towards not only individual course pairings, but also the entire experience and the flow of both food and drink.”
Eve plans to surprise beer dinner diners with his menu choices, but said scallops and housemade ice cream may be part of the three courses.
“I think what we are doing is super unique because it’s the only place in town where you can get food and beer together that is all made in-house. Our beer is incorporated into our dishes, and there is no other place in town that is doing that,” he said. “People are traveling from all across the Southeast to come check us out, so we want to give them the best experience possible.”
In preparation for Athens Beer Week, the brew crew put together two special collaboration brews with some of their beer brethren. Amit Ram from New York’s Peekskill Brewery came south of the Mason-Dixon to brew Taking it to the Macs DIPA, and the team from Cherry Street Brewing put their heads together to brew a Lemon Drop hopped saison. The Peekskill collaboration will be released on Wednesday, April 11, and the Cherry Street beer on Saturday, April 14.
Don’t fear the beer …
On Thursday of Athens Beer Week, the Akademia crew heads into Normaltown for a tap takeover at Hi-Lo Lounge. Expect to enjoy a selection of draft beer along with some of Hi-Lo’s dogs, fries and famous pink sauce.
It’s the perfect way to prepare for the following morning, when Night Owls are invited to the brewpub for its irregular, regular tradition of Friday the 13th. Its 13 percent imperial stout, Paraskevidekatriaphobia, will be back on tap, and a limited number of commemorative glasses will be available for purchase. Local blues band The Lucky Jones will take the stage Friday night, and the crew plans to have plenty of festivities celebrating this beer and six months of being in business in the Classic City!
“I am extremely excited to be a part of the amazing beer community that has built in Athens, and to be involved with our first Athens Beer Week,” said Morgan Wireman, head brewer and co-founder of Akademia. “I’m looking forward to the Paraskevidekatriaphobia release on Friday the 13th — I heard Mr. Phobia might be making an appearance.
If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, there’s still time to snag a ticket to Classic City Brew Fest, the penultimate beer event in Athens during Beer Week. For the first time, this year’s Brew Fest comes with more than 50 cask ales from breweries, and each of the four Athens breweries will have a draft tent as well. Akademia’s cask ale is Paraskevidekiatriaphobia imperial stout with cocoa nibs, smoked chipotles and palo santo wood.
“The Brew Fest has gone from a huge event with lots of mainstream beers to a smaller, more intimate event with very rare special beers that appeal to today’s craft beer drinker,” Ogletree said. “Instead of having room after room of bottle beers that you can buy in several different places, we decided to focus on the most popular aspect of the festival. … For a town with only four breweries, Athens has a huge population of craft beer aficionados.”