The wait is over.
For the first time in more than a century, Augusta-area residents can now purchase locally made beer as RiverWatch Brewery slowly finds its way into taps.
On Tuesday, the brewery in the Farmers Market on Laney-Walker Boulevard posted a photo on Facebook showing dozens of kegs ready to be distributed by Evans-based A.B. Beverage Co.
Nathaniel Young, a soldier stationed at Fort Gordon, said that after seeing the post, he drove to his nearest growler store – Tip Top Taps in Evans – to be among the first to taste the new brews.
Though at least five varieties have been announced, only three were available in most places around Augusta on Tuesday.
The first kegs to be tapped included the brewery’s signature Route 104 pale ale, Scenic Overlook blonde ale and NPR wheat beer. Young, who said he now drinks craft beer exclusively, tried them all.
“You’re supporting the local community,” he said about drinking locally made beer. “I’ve been hoping ever since I got stationed here in 2013 that they would have a local brewery. Now that
they’ve got one, it just makes it that much better.”
There to snap photos of Young buying two growlers of beer was Anne Sloan, RiverWatch’s marketing director and daughter of head brewer Brey Sloan. She said every keg pictured on the brewery’s Facebook page has already been sold.
“I was a little emotional today,” she said. “I was texting a friend and got a little choked up. I was telling myself, ‘I need to calm down. It’s just beer.’ Augusta has been so patient with all of the roadblocks we hit along the way.”
A short while later, Matt Willis, of Augusta, walked in and requested samples of the three brews.
“I’m not a big drinker but I was curious to taste the local stuff,” he said. “All three of them were really good. I like the pale ale the best. The one with the lime juice (NPR wheat) was a little sweeter.”
Tip Top Tap owner Matt Koger was on hand to try out the beer for himself and decided he liked the pale ale, too. His shop is set up to feature brews from around the country, but he said special attention is paid to regional beers.
“Having an Augusta beer on our wall is much more satisfying than having a beer on our wall from North Carolina,” he said. “We’re wanting to do our part.”
Both Hive Growler Bar on 10th Street and Gravity Growlers on Furys Ferry Road announced that they have the brews on tap. Koger said he expects Augusta-based Savannah River Brewing Co., which is still in the building stage, to be included on his wall once open.