With the city’s flair for the artistic, the soil itself seeming to urge unique talent after talent, new artists springing up as soon as the old ones retire or shuttle off to new cities, the bar and foodie/drinking scene has always been a beneficiary.
Since we began this journey, most things have stayed the same – but the beer scene in Augusta will never be the same. The reason for this is two words: Riverwatch Brewery.
With her wide and toothy, completely unassuming smile, Sloan still seems surprised by how fast everything has moved. Despite the speed of the entire process, multiple obstacles popping up left and right and detours and hurdles she’s had to speed around or leap over completely, the care and pride she pours into each batch of beer remains outstanding in the final takeaway. It is the singular ingredient that makes Riverwatch Brewery, Augusta’s first brewery open to the public, a name worth remembering.
With an aim at including as many locally grown ingredients thrown into the mash, Sloan has taken her new-found love of Augusta, the place she now calls home, a step further by sprinkling in handfuls of hops from her own garden into the mix, all in the desire of creating a beer specific to the city from which it springs.
What is available is not just beer, it’s great beer. Ranging from an extra-hoppy IPA, the aptly named “Cautionary Tale,” so perfectly balanced is its blend of bitterness and sweet it still appeals to the subtle palettes of patrons who usually reject IPAs on principle, to a zesty but light lime-wheat beer, “Nearest Point of Relief” (or “NPR,” for short); there is also a pale ale, the “Route 104,” and, my own personal favorite, a decidedly rich blonde ale named “Scenic Overlook,” that is so complex brewery patrons have noted both a “buttery texture” and underlying watermelon tones.
This is the kind of beer you have conversations about. And best of all, it’s Augusta’s own.
Sloan has followed this dream to its current iteration for almost two years now; her name Brey (“like a donkey’s,” she says, laughing), of Celtic origin, means “strength and power,” two factors she quietly brings to this newest of Augusta’s enterprises. Working around the structure of Georgia’s current alcohol licensing laws, she has also had to employ a little innovation. Living up to her name, she is becoming a “force” in the city scene, not taking no for an answer and firmly standing by her vision of seeing Augusta as a place where great beer can be brewed.
While current law does not allow her to sell the beer by the glass, she’s been quietly supplying kegs throughout the city to get the word out, establish the name and feed the city’s growing fervor for her product.
At the recent Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que musical festival, Riverwatch trucked in over 700 gallons – and the demand keeps growing.
It is only fitting that at the end of this journey drinking beer from one end of the city to the other, we should end at such a moment in time, when Augustans get to drink beer made for and by Augustans.
Cups up, cause remember, “Beer today, gone tomorrow.”
Riverwatch Brewery Online - for beer lists, location, and tour information.