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SUDS Beer Festival

STARTED IN 1998, the Decatur Craft Beer Festival—now under the name and beer moniker S.U.D.S.—will be held at the sprawling Legacy Park this fall with more than 70 independent breweries, exclusive beer releases, prominent food vendors, live music and a cause that everyone can get behind: supporting Decatur nonprofits.

Over the past quarter century, the festival has drawn thousands of beer enthusiasts from in and around the Southeast with craft brewers coming from as far as Asheville, including brewery Sierra Nevada again on tap this year.

This year’s festival is slated for October 28th from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. and will feature live music from Blacktop Rockets, Penelope Road and Bogey and The Viceroy. Many special release beers were specifically created to debut at the festival.

“There have been years where 20 percent of the beer at the festival was brewed specifically for the festival—available only at the festival or in pubs in Decatur,” said Michael Gallagher, festival co-founder and founding partner of Brick Store Pub, partner at LEONs Full Service and Good Word Brewing & Public House.

“It’s the best of what’s available in brewing in the Southeast for fall 2023, and we will have as many breweries as we can to commit to having a very special beer that’s launched and only at our festival.”

Decatur’s premier “backyard beer experience” was the brainchild of the founding partners of the beloved Brick Store Pub. They sought to bring craft beer appreciation and awareness to the masses in an engaging and accessible way, with a goal to use the festival proceeds to make a difference in the community.

“I can’t believe we started it when we were in our mid-20s and now we’re in our 50s!” said Gallagher.

The first several years of the festival were held on the square in downtown Decatur with craft brewers from around the world.

Gallagher said the original Decatur Craft Beer Festival was wholeheartedly supported by Lyn Menne, the longtime economic development staffer and economic development director for the City of Decatur who later served as the executive director of Legacy Park.

“We’ve always had an incredible relationship with Lyn. She’s the type of city official that every small business owner wants to work with. She’s pro community, she’s pro connection, she’s probusiness,” Gallagher said.

The annual craft beer festival has had many iterations over the years, including initially being held in the spring before moving to more reliable weather conditions in the fall and re-evaluating whether it would return after a years-long hiatus during the pandemic.

Menne supported the idea for the festival to serve as a fundraiser for the community and encouraged the move to create the nonprofit organization S.U.D.S., which stands for “Simply Us Doing Our Share,” to produce and host the lively and curated craft beer experience. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go towards Legacy Park and Legacy Decatur’s mission to support local nonprofits.

“The idea was, ‘how do we create a craft beer experience, couple it with incredible food and couple it with the best bands available and bring people together for a good time and make sure all the money goes to nonprofits? It’s what we’ve always done,” said Gallagher. “To date, we’ve given just under $1.5 million to nonprofits in the Decatur community doing good work. We hang our hat on being involved in our community. It just feels right.”

Attendees at this year’s festival will receive a commemorative tasting glass and be able to sample popular — as well as never-beforetasted — beers, plus enjoy the opportunity to purchase a la carte worldly menu items from award-winning chefs from the Southeast. There will be fewer than 1,000 tickets sold for ample room to walk around, play yard games and enjoy the samples.

Gallagher said there will be special “beer tapping” throughout the day to get the crowd excited. 44 DECATUR LIVING Fall 2023 “It might be, ‘At 2 p.m., we’re tapping this beer from Good Word Brewing and Public House,’” Gallagher said. “Throughout the event, you’ll have a chance to queue up for special beer. You’ll be able to walk around and try beers that aren’t available in any other part of the world, other than in Decatur at our festival.”

The 77-acre Legacy Park is the ideal place to have the event, with picturesque green space and the location managed by Legacy Decatur, the nonprofit that will benefit from the festival proceeds.

“[Attendees] are going to have all the room in the world to walk around on grass in shade, listen to music, drink beer and talk to brew masters, brew champions, tap house owners, distributors and more,” Gallagher said.

The SUDS festival will be held on Saturday,October 28th from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. at Legacy Park at 500 S Columbia Drive. Tickets are only available for those 21 and over. No pets allowed. For tickets and more information, visit sudsdecatur.org

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