During American Craft Beer Week (this past May), Nashville had the chance to show off its exceptionally tasty local brews. Before the passage of a recent state law — the Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013 — Tennessee had the nation’s highest beer tax. But now, with its new, less imposing tax structure, Tennessee is becoming a more palatable home for craft brewers, distributors and connoisseurs. In years past, you may have been lucky enough to try one or two local brews, but these days, Nashville’s pint is overflowing, and there is more locally brewed goodness than you could possibly hope to imbibe on one itinerary. Here are a few of our favorites.
Though construction is still very much underway, Tennessee Brew Works will soon be a household name in Nashville when it comes to craft beer. Co-owners Garr Schwartz and Christian Spears started in the world of corporate finance, but today, have given up hustling for a whole lot of hops. The brewery is set to open this summer in SoBro, an area of town that’s quickly becoming a veritable brewers’ row. Keep a look out for the Basil Ryeman, a beer with a slight herbal infusion that will make you go “Mmmmmm…”
Named for an animal that co-owner Bailey Spaulding (who owns alongside Robyn Virball and Steve Wright) once believed actually existed, this Nashville brewery is also located in SoBro. Stop by the taproom and try the Rompo, the Red Rye Ale, or Bearwalker, a dark, maple-flavored brew, which are some of the favorites.
This craft beer shop sells bottles, cases, growlers and pints of independent beer from smaller-scale breweries around the nation — but focuses on Tennessee brews as much as possible. Opened in January 2013, Craft Brew’s large chalkboard morphs daily, and has included brews such as Finch’s Secret Stache Stout from Chicago, Illinois, and Evil Octopus IBA from Mayday Brewery in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Owned by Ben Bredesen, son of former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, Fat Bottom is also located in Nashville’s SoBro district. Fat Bottom opened in 2012, and rumor has it, food at the tasting room (housemade veggie burgers or bangers and mash that pair perfectly with the libations) is just as delicious as the beer they make behind the scenes such as the Ginger Wheat Ale, a blonde beer perfect during warm weather, or the hearty and hoppy Bertha Oatmeal Stout.
Though not a brewery in its own right, Village Pub is proud to serve local and regional beer (including brews from Fat Bottom and Jackalope) on tap every day of the week. Established by Jesse and Tracy Hamilton, and located in East Nashville’s Riverside Village, Village Pub is set up in a 1940s-era house complete with fireplace and plenty of natural light, and the beer garden’s wraparound patio is the place to be for a pint in warm weather. So sit a spell, enjoy a brew and have a bite of something from the menu — perhaps the stuffed pretzel sandwich with your choice of stuffing from Italian sausage or blackened chicken to Portobello mushroom and more.
Photos courtesy of Claire Gibson, Fat Bottom Brewery and Sheri Oneal