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Grab your Jackets Travel Blog: Beer Time and The Benz!

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UNC at Chapel Hill is actually one of my favorite campuses to visit for an away game. I can’t wait to talk about it in the future, but this will be a “neutral site” game hosted at Mercedes Benz stadium. This means theoretically it will be a home game for GT. Given how UNC fans travel it may feel more like a UNC home game inside the stadium (GT fans we need you to show up!). Still, since we’re in Atlanta, this week covering something all North Carolinians can appreciate, the brewery scene nearby. We’ll also cover some GT traditions to watch out for. Let’s get started.

Travel How To: Getting from Chapel Hill to Atlanta

If you’re driving from Chapel Hill to Atlanta, there are 2 ways to get there. There is the faster way that risks more traffic, and the slower way that has less traffic. For both routes you will take I-40/I-85 to Charlotte, but this is where the paths diverge.

The faster trip is to continue straight down I-85, which will take you into Atlanta from the north. This route should take about 6 hours without stopping. The downside is there is often construction and heavy traffic on this route, so while it should be faster, you may end up taking more time than you would expect sitting in traffic.

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The slower option is to take I-77 south after Charlotte. This will take you to Columbia, South Carolina where you will change over to I-20 for the rest of your trip into Atlanta. This will bring you into Atlanta from the southeast. Generally there is less traffic on this route, but it will add around an hour to your travel time. While I’ve taken the slower route before, I would recommend our readers take the faster route and hopefully won’t find any backups along the way.

You can also book a flight from RDU to Atlanta. At the time of writing this article the prices are around $250 for a round trip. RDU is a pretty relaxed airport which doesn’t see as much traffic as larger international airports, so getting in and out is easy. Do keep in mind that if you book a flight you will need to wear a mask the entirety of the flight for COVID prevention. Another thing to remember is, despite how simple the TSA line is in RDU (in comparison to other airports) Hartsfield Jackson is a different beast. Be sure to arrive at least 2 hours ahead of time unless you have a TSA Pre-check, otherwise you will find yourself running to your gate.

Busy Travel Day At Raleigh-Durham Airport As Region Recovers From Winter Storm Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

Places to Stay

The Benz is closer to downtown than it is to Midtown (where GT is located). While the GT campus is within walking distance of the Benz, it is a long walk and may be difficult for children. There are a ton of hotels in the area, but they do tend to be slightly more expensive when you get closer to the Benz. The Hilton, Mariott, and Westin Peachtree Plaza run around $100 a night. There are nicer options like the Reverb by Hard Rock, Hyatt Regency, and Embassy suites which will cost closer to $200 a night, but can be worth it depending on your needs.

Weston Hotel and city skyline... Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

Last time we talked, Airbnb was more expensive due to other kick off events and DragonCon being on the same weekend as the game. Since this is a slower weekend in Atlanta, Airbnb has some cheaper options if you’re willing to stay outside of downtown. Apartments can run from $50 to $100 a night depending on the size of the apartment. If you have a family it may be better to get a hotel, but for college students or recent graduates driving down Airbnb is a good option.

Since the game is in the Benz, parking should not be an issue. That is not to say it’ll be cheap or easy to find, but you should be able to find parking nearby, whether it be at a private lot or one of the parking decks near the stadium. I’d still recommend either walking or taking Uber just to avoid getting stressed looking for good parking.

Things to See: Breweries

One thing I’ve learned since coming to Raleigh is that micro-breweries are a big thing up here. In the Raleigh-Durham area there are about 80 different micro-breweries with new ones popping up all the time. Depending on who you ask, that is either a lot of breweries or not nearly enough. Atlanta also has plenty of breweries, but Atlanta is also a much larger city (depending on where you draw the line on the Atlanta metro area).

The next big thing for beer could be bugs, NC State scientists say Corey Lowenstein/Raleigh News & Observer/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Raleigh also celebrates these breweries through big events such a Brewgaloo in downtown Raleigh where the whole city shuts down and microbreweries from across the southeast offer samples all the way down Main Street (which is actually called Fayetteville street). Brewgaloo actually just happened last week, although I believe there will be another one scheduled for the spring (because COVID makes things weird) so keep an eye out. Since college students and graduates are also known to enjoy a fine craft beer… or ten depending on the circumstance lets get into the breweries near Atlanta.

If you’re staying in downtown you will need to Uber to most of these locations, but if you’re drinking you really should be Ubering anyway. Stay safe guys.

Preparation for the annual Great American Brewing Festival at the Convention Center in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The big name around Atlanta is SweetWater Brewing which is north on I-85 from downtown near Fox Brothers BBQ which you should also check out if you’re in the area. SweetWater was founded in 1997, and by 2013 it had already grown to be one of the top 50 U.S. Breweries based on sale volume. They are best known for their 420 pale ale, but I recommend the Blue wheat ale and Hop Hash Easy IPA as my personal favorites. Near SweetWater is a distillery called ASW which is also worth checking out if you prefer Whisky to beer.

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For something closer to Georgia Tech’s campus, try out Monday Night Brewing near Atlantic Station. It’s a little tricky to find, being down a dead end road nearby the water treatment plant, but definitely worth a visit. They have a warehouse style taproom with a large porch to enjoy for fall weather. Most people I talk to know them for the Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale. Be sure to also check out the Slap Fight, Blind Pirate, and the newly released Death Raptor IPAs.

Second Self is a brewery near Crest Lawn Memorial Park surrounded by plenty of small cafes and restaurants. Second Self was founded by Georgia Tech Grads, which is a plus in my book. I’ve been told to check out their Mole porter, but my favorite beer of theirs at the moment is the “Stepdad Made Breakfast” breakfast stout with blueberry, vanilla, and maple syrup flavoring.

Rhododendron flowers, in Burcina Park, Biella

Orpheus Brewing is at Piedmont Park and offers a great view of the gardens in the park. Their “Transmigration of Souls” double IPA is a must taste. They also offer beyond meat hot dogs and other food to enjoy at the location which is a plus.

Bold Monk Brewing is a brewery located near Chattahoochee food works. Bold Monk is more of a brew pub with southern-style food served in the brewery. They also have a bookstore within the building in case you want to sit down and spend some time relaxing with your favorite book.

Finally, I’ll list Fire Maker Brewing. This is a hot new brewery downtown. While I have not been personally Fire Maker has received rave reviews in its short time being open.

Of course there are plenty other breweries to check out in the area. I can’t possibly list them all but hopefully my list has given you a place to start.

Traditions

For UNC fans coming to Georgia Tech there are quite a few traditions on campus you can look out for. Today I’m going to go into a few, but I’ll be leaving some for later discussion in these articles.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 NIU at Georgia Tech Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Obviously the Ramblin’ Reck (yes I spelled that correctly, and you can’t tell me otherwise) will drive around campus. This is a Model A Sport coupe maintained by the Georgia Tech Ramblin’ Reck club. It’s the car that drives onto the field at the start of every home game.

The Model A has been maintained since its purchase in 1961 from Captain Ted J. Johnson by Dean Jim Dull for $1000. Ted would later return the $1000, making the vehicle a formal donation. Dean Dull bought the car to serve the purpose of a new icon for the school as he noticed many students and fraternities had a fascination with maintaining and displaying classic cars (engineers liking cars? I can’t believe it).

Despite including the name in the song, the Georgia Tech Fight Song “(I’m a) Ramblin’ Reck from Georgia Tech” was actually written in 1908. The term “Rablin’ Reck” has been used for the students and alumni of the school for longer than the Model A has been in existence. The song is based on “Son of a Gambolier” which is a Scottish drinking song composed by Charles Ives.

Also of note, the instructions on mixing a barrel of rum, sugar three thousand pound, in a college bell is apparently a real recipe. The college bell referenced actually comes from an adaptation of the song from Dickson College in southern Pennsylvania that was made in the 1850s prior to Georgia Tech changing the song for their own purposes.

While you’re on campus you may also hear about a famous student named George P. Burdell. George is actually the oldest student on campus. He has earned every degree at the school and is a well known prankster. Be on the lookout for this guy, if you run into George P. Burdell, he is nothing but trouble since he enrolled at Georgia Tech in 1927. He also may not be real… did I mention that?

Burdell was created when William Edgar Smith accidentally submitted 2 enrollment forms as a joke. According to an interview William originally intended to enroll his Academy of Richmond County Principal as a joke, but instead changed the last name from Butler to Burdell. When George was admitted, William did all the work in his classes twice and submitted his work as though George P. Burdell was a real student. George was awarded his first bachelor’s degree in 1930. Since then, George has become a legend who has achieved more feats than any other Georgia Tech student and been involved in too many hijinks to list. Crazy how out of hand a small prank can get.

I wish the UNC fans a good trip to Atlanta until the game starts. This should be a fun game and I am looking forward to seeing how both teams will perform on the field. Since the actual game is in Mercedes-Benz and not on campus you may not see as much of the Georgia Tech environment, but I still recommend you take the time to stop by GT and see what the environment is like. Regardless, have fun on your trip down to Atlanta and be sure to drink responsibly!