Beer Hunting



There’s no denying it, the craft beer market has grown substantially over the past few years. In 2019 it’s estimated there were over 8,000 independent craft breweries in the United States.  Blue Ridge and the Copper Basin are home to a few of the best!

Taking home a growler to drink while sitting in front of the TV and screaming at the umpire was a favorite pastime for many before the 2020 sports season was pre-empted. Now, visiting craft beer taprooms has become a favorite diversion for many aficionado hopsters. But many more of us barley know the yeast of what goes into a good brew. So before we take you beer hunting in this region, let’s do a very quick primer.

Craft Beer 101

Photo Courtesy of Copperhill Brewery

Where does beer come from?

Barley – mainly used for beer, this is the base ingredient for beer.

Malt – barley by itself won’t make beer.  Barley seeds need to be sprigged to life by malt extract and then roasted and toasted to achieve their distinctive flavors.

Hops – Without hops, beer would be pretty boring.  Hops are the spices of the beer world creating bitter, tropical, and citrus flavors that balance out the sweetness of the beer.  Grown as bines or long vines, you might have passed a hops crop along the roadside and mistaken it for a vineyard.

Yeast – You can’t make beer without yeast, and the yeast plays maybe the biggest part in the whole beer equation.  Pitch too little, your beer is sweet.  If the yeast is not healthy, it will throw off a strange and unpalatable flavor.

Brewing – Oh yeah, that part.  Brewing takes on a lot more than simply boiling the beer.  There is milling the grain to get it just the way you want.  Then there’s the constant cleaning and maintenance of all the equipment, hoses, and fittings to make sure there is no contamination.  Someone must carefully monitor the production to hit all of the right “checkpoints” to ensure that the proper alcohol levels are achieved.  And then there’s carbonating it just right for the style you are brewing.

Beer Styles

Ale – It’s typically fermented warm, using a strain of yeast that rises to the top of the brew. It ferments faster than lager and is more strongly flavored. Esters produced during fermentation lend a slightly fruity and floral taste. Hefeweizen is a wheat beer. IPA stands for India Pale Ale, which long ago was high in hops and alcohol content, to survive a voyage from Britain to India. It still tends to have an intense hop flavor.

Lager – This is another basic type of beer. It’s usually fermented cold, using yeast that sinks to the bottom during fermentation and works slowly. Long, cold fermentation inhibits the production of esters, and lagers have a cleaner, crisper taste than ales.

Hard Cider – Whoa! Where did cider fit into this primer? Well, not everyone likes beer, but they still like the low alcohol content compared to liquor. On a warm summer’s day, hard cider is a great and healthier alternative to beer, especially for those who have to avoid wheat and other grains.

Cliff Notes on Style:

The best ales have intense, complex, and balanced flavors. 

The best lagers are very tasty but they generally aren’t as complex or intense as ales. 

Beer vs Cider – If you are someone who enjoys the distinctive bitterness of beer and enjoys a sugar-free drink made of barley, then beer is the drink for you. If you are looking for a gluten-free, sweeter option, but still want the bubbles and the buzz, look to the craft hard ciders.

You are now ready for our North Georgia Beer Hunt!

Fannin Brewing Company

3758 East First Street, Blue Ridge, GA | 706-258-2762 | Hours: Friday & Saturday 12pm-8pm, Sunday 12pm-6pm

Production at Fannin Brewing Company

This brewing company was founded by someone passionate about starting a winery in Blue Ridge. Plans change. He meets a guy passionate about German beers. They combine their passions and voila! They now have one of the most highly respected craft breweries in the South. Tours of the plant are available on Fridays and Saturdays. BYOP – Bring your own pup. Yes, your canine friends are welcome throughout the brewery.

Our Tasting Room Choice:  Cherry Mitten

Grumpy Old Men Brewing

1315 East Main Street, Blue Ridge, GA | 706-946-2739 | Hours: Monday – Wednesday 12pm-6pm, Thursday – Saturday 12pm-8pm, Sunday 12:30pm-5pm

Beer Selections at Grumpy Old Men Brewing

This is a great hangout for any age brewster. Family friendly, kids will love the GIANT JENGA outside and the games inside, plus there’s craft soda on tap. Open seven days a week. Big screen TV’s throughout. Thursday night is Karoake night and it is well attended and lots of fun. Always 18 different craft beers on tap. On Friday, Saturdays and Sunday’s check out their hot dog stand.  

Our Tasting Room Choice:  Hell’s Holler Porter

Mercier’s Orchards

8660 Blue Ridge Dr., Blue Ridge, GA | 706-632-3411 | Hours: Sunday – Thursday 8am-4pm,  Friday & Saturday 8am-6pm

Blueberry-Apple Sparkling Cider at Mercier Orchards

Mercier’s is the only apple orchard in Georgia that can say they grow, press, ferment, and bottle their product. Their full line of cider seasonally takes advantage of most of the fruits that are grown year-round at the orchard. The tasting room is part of the gigantic market, restaurant, and bakery. You may visit with the intent to pick out your favorite hard cider, but be prepared to spend additional time foraging the whole market.

Our Tasting Room Choice:  Grumpy Granny

Copperhill Brewery

105 Ocoee Street, Copperhill, TN | 423-548-3030 | Hours: Monday 12pm- 6pm,  (Tuesday – Wednesday Closed), Thursday – Saturday 12pm-8pm, Sunday 12pm-5pm

Photo Courtesy of Copperhill Brewery

Visit this brewery and you won’t know if you are in Tennesee or Georgia. Located in Copperhill, just outside their tasting room door, you can have one foot in Tennessee and the other foot in Georgia. It’s very cool to straddle the state line! Sample their brews and you’ll wonder if you haven’t traveled to Scotland or Germany. This brewery takes craft beer way, way serious. It’s not a passion for them. It’s an art form. Some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable staff this side of the Mason Dixon line.

Our Tasting Room Choice:  Ocoee #1 IPA

Buck Bald Brewing

160 Ocoee St, Copperhill, TN | 706-431-7141 | Hours: Monday 2pm-8pm, (Tuesday & Wednesday Closed),  Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday 12pm-8pm

Photo Courtesy of Buck Bald Brewing

This brewey is a converted gas station with a great tasting room, but an even better outdoor area that, when the weather permits, is just hopping with folks having fun, listening to great music, and some amazing beer choices. You can join the Mug Club and have your picture painted on a mug that’s yours to keep fillin’up with their vast and ever-changing selections. Great fun for the whole family. It’s where the white water rafting crews call “home”. 

Our Tasting Room Choice: Berry My Heart at the Trailer Park

Food With A Brew

Fightingtown Tavern

511 East Main Street, Blue Ridge, GA | 706-946-2006

The Bar at Fightingtown Tavern

Here you’ll find a chef that makes cheffy dishes all out of locally sourced meats and veggies, rockin’ music, and a great craft beer selection for a cool experience and a taste-bud tripping meal!

Black Bear Bier Garten

500 East Main Street, Blue Ridge, GA | 706-946-4440

Photo Courtesy of @ancole78

Best known as Blue Ridge’s “Husband Day Care Center”, the Black Bear Bier Garten offers great local music and 19 local, craft & imported draft beers. Pare your brewski with one of 9 varieties of wild game sausages and you’ll be pretty happy you stopped in!

Chester Brunnenmeyer’s Bar and Grill

733 East Main Street, Blue Ridge, Georgia | 706-258-2539

Dinner Special at Chester Brunnenmeyer’s

Set in a historic Blue Ridge building, Chester Brunnenmeyer’s delivers not only an elevated food selection, but their adult beverage menu is most robust with signature cocktails like the ESCAPE TO BLUE RIDGE (Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka, macerated blueberries, lemonade), an impressive wine list, and regionally crafted beer!

Escape to the Blue Ridge Mountains



Guest Blog by Forever Freckled.

If you haven’t already experienced the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia, you should! Our families have been visiting this area for the last 6 years. Each time we return, it becomes even more special. There is something so incredibly quaint and peaceful about the small town of Blue Ridge.

Growing up in South Florida, we do not get to experience the amazing change in seasons. If you know us sisters, we are always talking about “sweater weather” and how badly we want to see the leaves change colors.

Well, we’ve teamed up again with Escape To Blue Ridge who always help us experience incredible family trips in the Blue Ridge Mountains! As we gear up for our next trip, we are excited to share information about Escape to Blue Ridge, the company we rent the cabins from, as well as some of the best activities and spots to hit up on your journey. If you love a vacation with a small town feel and views to die for, this trip is one for you.

We also want to lend you some pointers for traveling with a ton of kids! You may deal with plenty of tantrums, tears, accidents, and fights along with the fun. But if you’re well prepared, you’ll make it out in one piece.

Escape to Blue Ridge

For the past 6 years, we have reserved our mountain family cabin with Escape to Blue Ridge. The most amazing part about this company is that they have hundreds of homes you can reserve, making it easy to choose the cabin that best suits the needs and preferences of your family.

The trip we took a couple of years ago was AMAZING! We want to share those adventures with you again, so let’s get started!

The Cabin

We love a cabin with mountain views and a great outdoor space that’s big enough for our three families. We could not believe our eyes when we arrived on this trip. The kids were in heaven, and the views were spectacular!

There are no words to describe this place.

The name of our cabin was Falling Waters Lodge, named after the two small waterfalls running down the front yard. Let me tell you, the house was spotless, at least in the moment we all arrived. The details and decor that went into creating this home were unlike anything we’ve ever seen. The cabin had a large open kitchen with top-of-line appliances and large windows to look out over the Blue Ridge Mountains while you cook.

There was also a hot tub on the downstairs patio to enjoy the few cold mountain nights. The bottom floor had a media room for movie nights with the kids and a play room with ping pong, billiards, and air hockey. There was a large open fire pit in the front next to the waterfalls where we made s’mores every night.

And even with all that, the most incredible part of this home was being able to wake up at 7am (before the kids) to enjoy a cup of coffee while watching the sunrise and seeing the most amazing fog spread across the mountain tops.

That view was worth the entire trip for us!

Things to Do in the Blue Ridge Mountains

On this particular trip, we spent 6 event filled days in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Here are some of our favorite activities from the trip and our top must do activities when visiting the Blue Ridge Mountains!

Atlanta Aquarium

This aquarium is amazing, and the kids will love it. Take some extra time after flying into Atlanta before heading to Blue Ridge, or before you head home, check out this great aquarium.

Mercier Orchards

For us, this stop is one of the most memorable stops in Blue Ridge. There is something so special about visiting an orchard. We took a hay ride with the kiddos up to the orchard fields where they let you roam around picking and eating apples. The kids had a blast, and Mason even lost a tooth biting into an apple!

After picking apples, we walked around their enormous shop trying homemade foods and buying tons of their famous maple syrup and homemade fried apple pies. The fried apple pies disappeared before we even made it back to the car!

Burt’s Farm

What is fall without a pumpkin patch? This day was so much fun! Besides a few major temper tantrums, we managed to have a really great time. The ride around this property on the tractor was so much fun, and the kids had a blast. We got to see how the pumpkins grow and some of the biggest pumpkins we have ever seen! And of course, they had fun Halloween decorations to give us some good decorating ideas for home!

Hiking

The parents decided that one afternoon the guys would get some alone time, and the ladies would get to do the same the next day. Our husbands went fly fishing in the Toccoa River (please see the hilarious, yet handsome, photo below), and we went hiking.

We made videos on toddler bathroom accidents and literally almost peed our pants laughing so hard!

Everyone was in full hiking gear, but we were probably the least prepared on our trail! We hiked at Springer Mountain, which is the very beginning of the Appalachian trail that leads north all the way up to Maine. There are so many great hikes and waterfalls around the Blue Ridge Mountains, even ones that are less challenging and more kid friendly.

Lily Pad Village

This spot has the cutest little fishing pond and gem mining spot that you ever did see! The kids loved spending the morning here. They sorted through their rock buckets full of soil, mining for gems and keeping some of the cool rocks and gems they found. We spent some time fishing by the pond using live bait. They also have a mini-golf course built into the side of the mountain!

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

This trip was very cool for the kids and great for the parents, especially if you go during the fall when the leaves are changing. The scenery on the ride is beautiful. The hour-long train ride on Blue Ridge’s old train cars takes you to a quaint town in Tennessee where you can shop the general stores and enjoy some southern food.

Our kids enjoyed riding the train and sitting in the open cart! Also, close to the train station in Blue Ridge is an amazing public park for the kids. We spent a lot of time there, until one of the kids had an accident in his pants, and we had to leave!

Three Sisters Fudge & Das Kauffee Haus

All day, every day! We ate so much fudge and drank so much coffee, and I am not upset about it! These are just two of the many perfect little shops you can stop at for fudge and coffee in downtown Blue Ridge.

We are obsessed with walking around main street going in and out of all their great shops.

BBQ and S’mores

Do not miss out on BBQ and s’mores – you don’t even have to leave your cabin! Yes, going out to dinner is fun but not always with 6 kids in tow. So we cooked at the cabin most of the time, and it made things a lot easier. We ate dinner outside and built a fire for the kids to make s’mores.

Some of our best memories from this trip were made staying home at the cabin!

Once the kids were in bed by 8:30pm, the parents enjoyed alone time and even some of our own s’mores, too!

Black Sheep Restaurant

Hands down, Black Sheep is the restaurant you want to visit in Blue Ridge. We were lucky enough to have one parent’s night out during the trip and decided to head to the main street of Blue Ridge and try this raved about dinner spot. This place is an historical home converted into one of the coolest restaurants we have ever seen. In the past when we visited Blue Ridge, we heard about this place but we didn’t feel like it would be family friendly.

But on this trip, new owners had completely revamped the restaurant in the best way possible. The ambiance and atmosphere are comfortable and casual, but it still has that fine dining feel we were craving.

We were lucky to be seated outside on the patio where the guys could watch their football during the meal. They even have an old-school movie night on the front lawn, which is such a great touch for bringing families and children to the restaurant!

Our meal was amazing, and the food was top notch. Seriously, everything was delicious, but we must say the crab cakes and the lamb bolognese were our favorites. For dessert, we had the most amazing pumpkin cheesecake ever…a slice of heaven.

Tips on Traveling with Kids

Oh man…before you do anything else, read this article Katie wrote on traveling with kids.

Now, for the tips. Our first tip is simple – just don’t take the kids with you!

Just kidding!

We were all nervous before we left, but I have to say, the kids were great. We had a few tantrums and one nasty cold that spread around fast, but we did well. The one thing that helped us immensely was preparation!

For the airport, make sure you stock snacks, iPads, movies, games, and whatever you can stuff in your bag. Entertainment and distraction are key! We had some really fun travel games that the kids LOVED playing.

The looks we got boarding a plane with 6 kids were laughable. But never say you’re sorry as a mom. We realized we were apologizing for having kids on the plane…that’s ridiculous, right? This is life. Kids fly, and we will do our very best to keep them happy, but sometimes, kids will be kids. Luckily, ours all behaved pretty well, and we didn’t get too many dirty looks.

A great tip to keep your kid busy and interested is to let them oversee their own suitcase. Each kid had their own personalized suitcase that they were responsible for. It was so cute how much they loved having matching luggage with their cousins, and they were proud to show off their bags!

We also brought nap mats which the kids used for movie nights in the media room. Sleeping bags would be fun, too!

Final Thoughts on Traveling to the Blue Ridge Mountains

All we can say is that Blue Ridge is a magical escape that takes you to a different world. It’s a great place for families or for couples.

Blue Ridge has it all!

We are so happy we discovered this amazing vacation spot, so we can create more memories over the years. All the cabins from Escape to Blue Ridge are incredible. We have stayed in a few cabins now, but if you need a 4+ bedroom home, and it is available, we highly recommend you book the cabin Falling Waters Lodge. It has that special, warm feeling of home you long for on family vacations. We most certainly will go back!

Thanks Escape to Blue Ridge for having us and letting us experience this amazing trip with our families!

Love,

Carrie, Katie, and Alison

*This trip was sponsored but all opinions are our own! We mean it!

If it’s a Rainy Day in Georgia



When you escape to the mountains, you look forward to being able to explore the great outdoors, to take scenic rides through the Blue Ridge foothills and highlands, seek out a waterfall and enjoy an evening around the fire pit, sipping wine while the kids gorge on toasted marshmallows. Sometimes Mother Nature plays havoc with your plans, aiming her watering hose right at your coveted vacation spot. When this occurs, don’t let it keep you from enjoying what Blue Ridge has to offer. Lots of our best activities are under roof.

Museums

OK, we do not have internationally renowned art museums like NYC and Paris, but we do have one of the largest selections of local and regional fine artists works located at the Blue Ridge Art Association Center in downtown Blue Ridge. There are two stories of art to peruse, in a beautiful setting, the restored old Fannin County Courthouse.  On exhibit this fall will be two shows not to be missed. From Oct. 5th through November 9th, the 12th Annual SAAG National Juried Art Show will be on exhibit, with artists entries from 25 states. And Oct 5th through January 4th, the Photography of Jerry Mucklow, Artist In Residence will be showcased. Half of the works of Mr. Mucklow’s show will be the many frames he’s captured of the Blue Ridge area, and the other half will feature the Coastal South.

Photo Courtesy of Jerry Mucklow

If art isn’t your thing, but legendary mountain men are more your interest, then take a quick ride just east of the city to visit EXPEDITION: BIGFOOT! The Sasquatch Museum. This museum may have you giggling on the way in the door, but you will leave with a new appreciation for your next walk in the woods. You’ll discover why Bigfooters from around the globe make the pilgrimage to Blue Ridge just to explore this museum and its many relics.

Let the “Spirits” Move You

It’s always fun to meet folks around a local tavern and Grumpy Old Men Brewery is a great place to make some new friends and enjoy some amazing craft beer. TV’s are on and there are game tables to play, but nothing can compare to imbibing in a few flights of microbrew, shooting the bull with locals and a great bartending staff at Trip Advisor’s #5 Top Attraction in Blue Ridge. Kids are welcome, too. They have a great root beer on tap for those too young or the designated driver of the group. They open at noon Tuesday thru Sunday and are located at 1315 E. Main St. in Downtown Blue Ridge. 

Photo Courtesy of Jerry Mucklow

If you prefer grape to a hop, then a taste testing at Serenberry Vineyards is perfect on a day of drizzle. Located in sister city Morganton GA, the tasting room is situated in a restored 1920’s barn. You’ll enjoy tasting the fine wines grown on this 3rd generation family farm and hear some interesting stories of this region. A kickback afternoon we highly recommend.

Let’s Play Games

Remember when you were kids and the best Sunday afternoon was when you went bowling with your family?  If you want to go back to those days, before the time where digital light shows flashed blinding lights and wild music drowned out the family laughter over a barrage of gutter balls thrown by Dad, then you want to visit Fannin Lanes. This classic bowling center has twelve wooden lanes,all kept in excellent condition. There are automatic bumper rails for the kids. They are a non-smoking, family entertainment facility, reasonably priced and just the ideal way to wait out the rain. And they are open seven days a week and holidays.

Photo Courtesy of Escape Blue Ridge

If tossing a 12 lb polyester ball down a lane doesn’t excite the family, then maybe they want to take on Escape Room: Blue Ridge. An escape room is an adventure game in which players are “locked” in a room and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles and escape within a set time limit (60 minutes). The games are physical versions of “escape the room” video games. It’s fun for the whole family, or if you and a friend are just a duo, they will find you new friends to take on the challenge. It’s a unique, fun way to kill an hour that you’ll be talking about for many more hours, many more days, and many more years to come.

Now, we’ve pretty much helped you fill in several rainy days, though we hope the sun shines bright on you during your stay with us. All of these activities are enjoyable on sunny days, too. Welcome to Blue Ridge, where we always know how to have fun!