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The Masters has a ‘mystery beer.’ We tried to find its origin

The crow's nest beer at augusta national

There’s an exclusive Masters beer brewed for just one week out of the entire year. But everything else about it is secret.

Darren Riehl/GOLF

AUGUSTA, Ga. — It’s happy hour on a Tuesday at Savannah River Brewing Company, a lively downtown hangout that opened in 2017 just a five-minute drive from Augusta National Golf Club. Green-coated Augusta National members might not stop in here often, but many other people do. Pax Summer is tending the bar, and it’s starting to get busy with thirsty locals. I ask him a question, but he’s not ready to answer just yet.

“Can I put the phone down to pour a beer?” he asks.

Today, Summer is trying to help solve a riddle: the origin of Augusta National’s Crow’s Nest beer that the club serves only at the Masters, a tasty libation thousands will savor on-site this week. Club staffers won’t talk about the beer’s source, and most patrons don’t care where its from; they just like to drink it. But if anyone knows something about this top-secret beverage, it’s gotta be the people who work in an actual brewery in Augusta, right? We thought so, too.

Summer returns to the phone.

“That’s the beer that no one knows who makes it, right?” he says. “It seems like one of the best-kept secrets.”

That’s the one! You see, the Masters has famously inexpensive but delightful concessions. For the beer specifically, there are only a few choices, and that simplicity adds to the allure. It’s like historic McSorley’s in Manhattan — light or dark beer, that’s it — where the indecisive can rest easy. At the Masters, for years you had to choose only from domestic or import. An American Craft Beer (Blue Moon) was added in 2016 but replaced five years later by the Crow’s Nest, which tastes like a cousin of Blue Moon, but its identity is unknown. Could it actually still be Blue Moon, but with different branding? We resolved to find out.

Crow’s Nest is a proprietary blend brewed exclusively for the Masters and not even available during the regular club season (which makes it that much cooler). It’s light, refreshing and tastes good, especially for parched golf fans wanting to fuel up after hiking up and down Amen Corner. It’s $5 and comes in a 20-ounce green commemorative cup, complete with italic Crow’s Nest text sandwiched between graphics of the tournament logo and the other Crow’s Nest (the one amateurs bunk in above the clubhouse). The brew is such a star, it even has its own shirt in the Masters Golf Shop. You think the domestic beer can claim that? Please.

I called Jim Christian, a Certified Level 2 Cicerone — essentially a beer sommelier — and the taproom manager for Savannah River Brewing Company, to see what he knew.

“So, two people know where it comes from,” he said, which sounded like a promising start. “The folks at the National, and whoever is brewing it. Nobody knows. We get questions every year about if we brew it, or people ask if they can get it off the course — and, of course, you can’t.”

Augusta National has secrets, and that’s one of the many things that make it, and the Masters, great. Is the wine cellar really one of the best in the country? What’s the full roster of members look like? How much can those cameras way up in the trees really see? Among the latest mysteries? That’s right, the beer.

crows nest beer at the masters
A close-up look at one of the most popular (adult) drinks of Masters week.

Darren Riehl/GOLF

“It’s a great style,” Summer says. “Belgium wit beer is a classic style a lot of people tend to enjoy. People who don’t even think they like beer, you give them a Belgium wit and they will enjoy it.”

Summer answers the important question — “we don’t make it,” he says — but wonders if a bigger outfit does. There are only couple of breweries in Augusta, he says, so it’s unlikely the beer is produced in the city. He adds that state laws can make it difficult for breweries to operate (too much red tape), which limits the number of them.

Our conversation winds down. Summer has more work to do, and without an answer to my question, so do I. He wishes me luck in my search.

“You should send [ANGC] our way, so we can start making it,” he says with a laugh. “Would be a nice contract to have.”

Our next target: Riverwatch Brewery, which is just a few doors down from Savannah River Brewing Company. Co-owner Brey Sloan picks up after the second ring. Riverwatch opened in 2016 (and is actually closing for good next week) and almost immediately started pitching the green coats on Riverwatch brewing Augusta National’s house beer with its own label. Alas, Augusta never bit (er…drank?), and no, Sloan says, Riverwatch does not make the Crow’s Nest, either.

patrons hold the crow's nest beer at augusta national
Two patrons stock up at Augusta National on Tuesday.

Darren Riehl/GOLF

Sloan says at one point she thought she had identified the Crow’s Nest brewer, but that same establishment was later targeted by Augusta National for using its name without permission. That wrinkle made her suspicion seem like an unlikely match.

Ironically, she was referring to Savannah River Brewing Company, which, before it even opened, had thought about calling one of its beers a Green Jacket Pilsner. Augusta National heard about it, sent a cease and desist and the brewery instead held a christening contest. No Jacket Required won out, and it’s still one of Savannah River’s flagship beers.

Sloan and Christian, however, both have their theories. They wonder if the Crow’s Nest might have originated 100 miles west at Terrapin Beer Co. in Athens, Ga., which was purchased by MillerCoors in 2016. Adolph Coors founded Coors Brewing Co. in 1873, and his great-grandson, Pete Coors, until recently served as chairman of Molson Coors and MillerCoors. The domestic beer served at the Masters is rumored to be from the Molson Coors family (Miller Lite and Stella), and Blue Moon — the beer that Crow’s Nest replaced — is also in that portfolio. Oh, and Pete Coors? He’s an Augusta National member.

One other important note: Blue Moon is a Belgian-style wheat ale infused with orange peel, while beer snobs will tell you that the Crow’s Nest essentially tastes like a Belgian-style wheat ale infused with lemon peel. Is the Crow’s Nest simply a Blue Moon with lemon substituted for orange, meaning it’s likely brewed at the same place as Blue Moon?

If that’s the case, the Crow’s Nest likely is brewed by Molson Coors, or perhaps even at a place like Terrapin. Neither Molson Coors nor Terrapin responded to’s inquiries, and Augusta National, per its long-standing tradition, does not comment on club matters.

So, where does this leave us?

“It was fun for it to arrive on scene, but most of the interest is because no one knew where it came from,” Sloan says. “But it’s cool to have a mystery beer out there.”

We’ll drink to that.


Josh Berhow Editor

As’s managing editor, Berhow handles the day-to-day and long-term planning of one of the sport’s most-read news and service websites. He spends most of his days writing, editing, planning and wondering if he’ll ever break 80. Before joining in 2015, he worked at newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa. A graduate of Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., he resides in the Twin Cities with his wife and two kids. You can reach him at

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