Have you ever visited a brewery and wanted to learn how your favorite craft beers are made? Well, here's some information on just why you should check it out.

Tours and tastings are essential in helping educate a brewery's customer base, giving them the opportunity to learn about the beers and processes in making them.

Visiting a brewery can be a lot of fun, as well! A typical tour is set up during designated hours and allows the public to get a "behind the scenes" look at how the beer is made, what the process involves and all of the shiny, stainless steel equipment it takes. Even for those who don't drink beer but love seeing a scientific process in the works, a brewery visit can be an enjoyable time.

When the general public visits a local brewery for a tour, it can be set up in a variety of ways. Most of this depends on the state in which you live. Some states have different laws that allow breweries to sell beer at a tasting room, while others don't allow any beer to be sold at all.

Georgia is among the few remaining states that don't allow any beer to be sold straight to the public at the brewery. However, this doesn't prevent you from attending an educational brewery tour and tasting. To visit your local Georgia brewery, you have to come within the designated time period, which is typically just two hours a day due to Georgia state law.

Once you arrive at your favorite Georgia brewery for a tour and tasting, you can expect that someone will be there to check your ID, then they will offer you a free disposable tasting cup or the option to purchase a souvenir pint glass.

According to state law, a brewery tour and tasting must be free. Breweries can only offer up to 32 ounces of beer per person for sampling per two-hour time period during a tour. The laws are very strict and must be followed for a brewery to maintain its ability to operate.

Once you come in and choose either the free sample cup or souvenir pint glass, you will then typically walk into the tasting area.

Most state breweries give you tickets or a wristband to keep track of the limited number of samples they are allowed to give out.

While sampling, you will typically be able to look at brewery equipment and read the information they have available on the process of making beer. They will also offer regular tours of the brewery and its processes during the designated sampling period.

On a tour, you can meet the people involved with making the beer, learn how each beer is made and what makes them different, as well as how that brewery is set up compared to others.

Although brewing beer is the same general process, there are a variety of ways to achieve the same end result.

This includes machinery, tanks and equipment. That's why it is really cool to visit multiple breweries to see how each of them are set up.

Also, every brewery makes different beer. This means each and every recipe and process is slightly unique, offering endless varieties and possibilities of flavor combinations.

Here in Savannah, you can now tour Southbound Brewing Co. at 107 E. Bay St. near the Great Dane building. We are the first brewery to be able to host the general public for an educational tour and tasting at the brewing facility.

It is a good opportunity to meet the people behind the beer, taste the varieties (some not available to the market yet) and learn about the processes while seeing all of the equipment.

The tours are offered from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from 2-4 p.m. Saturday.

Though Southbound is the only brewery now offering tours and tastings, there are several breweries under construction that will offer them, as well. Service Brewing Co. and Coastal Empire Beer Co. are underway to be the next two production-only microbreweries in Savannah. You will then be able to visit four different breweries! Although you can't tour Moon River, you can see all of their equipment through the window as you taste beers at the bar.

Brewery tours are a great opportunity to see all of the facilities, processes, equipment, etc., as well as taste all of the different beers each offers.

I'm sure I can speak for all Georgia breweries in saying we look forward to your next brewery visit. Come check us out if you're interested! You wont regret it.

Smith Mathews (brewmaster) and Carly Wiggins (marketing director) are the founders of Southbound Brewing Co. Go to www. south boundbrewingco.com or email
info@southbound brewingco.com.