Thursday, May 10, 2018

Notes from Nashville, Part 2: A taste of Music City

Image: Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

Following up Tuesday's article on the business aspects of this year's Craft Brewers Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, here's a look at what Music City has to offer in terms of its beer.

All together, I visited six different breweries between time sitting in on economic, political and even historical seminars during the conference. I wasn't able to get to all the spots on my list, but I did manage to hit roughly a third of the breweries that exist in and around the immediate Downtown Nashville area. Thoughts on each are presented below, in no particular order.

As for recommendations, if you're looking to grab a bite to eat in an area with a number of breweries nearby, I'd suggest heading to an urban neighborhood called The Gulch. The district is home to restaurants like Peg Leg Porker, for the BBQ fiends, and Party Fowl, for those who've got a hankerin' for hot chicken. From there, three breweries are within easy walking distance - Yazoo Brewing Co.Jackalope Brewing Co., Tennessee Brew Works, with two more just a few blocks away - New Heights Brewing Co., Czann's Brewing Co..


Bearded Iris Brewing

To be clear, Bearded Iris does make other types of beer, but it was a little ironic to be ordering from a menu with the heading "Cultivate Variety," when every item on it (at the time) was some type of IPA. In any case, I worked my way through four beers of varying haze and juice content, eventually settling on DDH Chief of Chiefs as my choice for the leader of the tribe.

Left: Foeders for thought at Bearded Iris Brewing.
Right: Overlooking the framework of Black Abbey's brewing operation.
(Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D)
Black Abbey Brewing Co.

With beers of American, Belgian, English, German and Scottish influence, Black Abbey's portfolio was a melting pot of styles. Some were crafted by the book, while others featured a slight twist (The Champion is an American pale ale with smoked malt). Regardless of recipe, balance was a common descriptor across the board, which made for an array of well-executed, approachable beers. The place gets points for having a cask engine as well, from which I sampled The 5 Points, a West Coast IPA conditioned with licorice root.

Smith & Lentz Brewing Co.

Set up east of Downtown Nashville, Smith & Lentz was the only brewery in this survey where I drank a lager. Actually, I drank two, a Vienna lager and a pilsner. Both were solid, but the German Pils was the star of the show at this particular taproom. Parliamentary Mild, an English mild ale infused with coffee, came in a close second.

Tennessee Brew Works

With its multi-level indoor/outdoor setup, the taproom at Tennessee Brew Works was probably the most unique one I encountered on this trip. It was also the only brewhouse to employ a mash filter (at least that I noticed), which ended up being the centerpiece of conversation as I drank a pint of Country Roots, a smooth stout brewed with sweet potatoes.

Left: A musical theme permeates the place at Tennessee Brew Works.
Middle: Barrels reaching New Heights are sourced from a variety of Tennessee distilleries.
Right: Yazoo gets its name from a river in the founder's hometown.
(Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D)
New Heights Brewing Co.

It may have been the smallest taproom of those I visited, but New Heights certainly wasn't short on beer. A dozen house brews were supplemented by a quartet of special releases, all of which were barrel-aged takes on the brewery's imperial stout, Navel Gazer. Of those, I took a shot (pun intended) of a version aged for 15 months in Eagle Rare barrels. Nothing wrong with a little pick me up, but were I to return my first pour would be a pint of Coffee & Cream, a coffee and vanilla cream ale.

Yazoo Brewing Co.

Recommendations for Yazoo seemed to center around brewery's Embrace the Funk series, but this place is no slouch when it comes to its year-round selections. Along those lines, my top picks from Yazoo's everyday lineup would be Dos Perros, an American brown ale, and Gerst Amber. The latter is an homage to the original Nashville Brewing Co., which was renamed the William Gerst Brewing Co. in 1893.

1 comment:

  1. We visited Jackalope Brewing and Peg Leg Porker as well as Corsair Beer Lab inside the old Marathon Motor Works complex on our Nashville trip 3 years ago. I bought a 6 pack of the pale ale at Jackalope to drink at the hotel.