A Quick Rundown of My Favorite Breweries
Tennessee Brew Works - a really nice space, lots of room upstairs and a good view into the brewery behind you as you sip your beer. Nice outdoor area as well, and it definitely got popular on Sunday afternoon once the sun came out.
Jackalope Brewery - a smaller space than Tenn BW, and the outdoor area was right off a busy road so not as peaceful. Regardless, was pretty busy on a Sunday afternoon.
New Heights Brewery: a bit out of the way (thanks, electric scooters!) and definitely catering to the beer-loving crowd currently on the outs of today’s popular styles. Lots of heavier brews with higher gravity and ABV, some sours, too. My favorite was a double cream ale which was ~10% ABV and had a sweet but not cloying flavor; not something I would have gone deeper into than a sampler but I was glad of the chance to experience it.
Tailgate Brewery - very large indoor space which looked more like a restaurant (they did serve food) than a brewery. The big board above the bar almost makes you think they have a lot of guest taps, but no! All beer of their own design and quite good, at that.
Best Beers I Had
Let’s run down some of the best beers I had (and can remember having!). Listed in no particular order.
Descriptions obtained from either the brewery’s website or Untapped.
Lovebird, Jackalope Brewing
This crisp wheat beer is complemented by the addition of nearly two hundred pounds of strawberries and raspberries in each brew. The fruit adds a tartness and berry aroma, as well as a slightly pink color to the brew. Available: April-June Availability: Draft and Cans Namesake: Named after the legendary bird itself, this beer is best drank in rounds of two. IBUs: 12
If you’ve ever had Pynk from Yards in Philadelphia you’ll be ready to try this beer. Almost identical, although this one finishes smoother and with a tad less acidity. Really excellent beer for the late spring / early summer weather we were having in Nashville in April.
Wow, Lou IPA, Smith & Lentz
We paired a brand new hop, Sabro, with an old hop grown in a new place, Michigan Chinook. The combo throws big coconut and pineapple notes with hints of vanilla and mango. It’s smooth, super refreshing and made to make you want many.
I loved Smith & Lentz for all of their interesting IPA styles and exhibition of various hops I had never heard of. The last time I was in Nashville I discovered Bearded Iris brewing and their focus on IPAs quickly won me over. But now, I think S&L is my go-to for a tasty, curious new IPA.
This beer was just the most interesting one I tasted during my time there; something about it just said “drink more of me” and I happily obliged. The weather outside was hot, and this beer was the perfect complement to cool me down.
Getting Pitted, S&L
Getting Pitted is a hazy IPA (6% abv) with Galaxy, Green Acre Farms’ Simcoe, and Citra. With a neutral fermentation, the intense hop profile of tropical fruit, ruby red grapefruit and key-lime shines.
Another interesting one from Smith & Lentz, but not my main choice and I only had a 5oz sample. The tropical fruit profile came across with a bang, and while it didn’t have that wonderfully crisp and refreshing flavor I was looking for on a hot day, it was something I would have enjoyed on a second pass through this taproom.
Tenn SC, Tailgate
Hazy IPA brewed in honor of Nashville’s brand new professional soccer club. Brewed with Amarillo, Mosaic & Pacifica
A little sweet was my first impression. The bartender made clear it was a popular beer, as their kegs had run dry within a week of the release and all that remained were cans in the fridge beside the bar. Cracking one open I found it a pretty good IPA, and the only negative was the sweeter profile - which I think helps explain the beer’s overall popularity during the warm Springtime release. When you’re getting back outside after the winter and need a beer for the porch, this one might appeal to everyone in the family.
Session DDH, Tailgate
Double dry hopped, so strong, citrus nose, hop back with that unfinished NEIPA flavor (grapefruity bitter with a slight pine bite).
Seemingly a style harder and harder to find, or perhaps just buried with all the new IPA releases that focus on the floral attributes of hops, this beer was just what I wanted to balance the others. Strong, resinous, and piney flavors dominated. When it hit your tongue there was a strong bite, partly from the carbonation and compounded by the bitter hop elements. It was a deep, dark, delicious IPA and I loved it.
West Coast Steam, Tailgate
Steam beer is a highly effervescent beer made by fermenting lager yeasts at warmer ale yeast fermentation temperatures.
I had never heard of or tried (consciously) a “steam beer” prior to this one. And it was an interesting experience! What I would normally associate as an “off” flavor in a lager which was brewed at too warm a temperature (strange fruity notes) I found charming in this beer. I’ve had some excellent Kolsch brews which had a faint hint of fruit flavor; this beer had a stronger hint, and lacked the clean flavor of a Kolsch, but still reminded me of those hints of fruit.
And while the history of it seems kind of muddy, I hope this is at least somewhat true:
According to Anchor Brewing, the name “steam” came from the fact that the brewery had no way to effectively chill the boiling wort using traditional means. So they pumped the hot wort up to large, shallow, open-top bins on the roof of the brewery so that it would be rapidly chilled by the cool air blowing in off the Pacific Ocean . Thus while brewing, the brewery had a distinct cloud of steam around the roof let off by the wort as it cooled, hence the name.
Hippies & Cowboys, Tennessee Brew Works
This tropical and citrus IPA provides luscious aromas that filter through to the palate. Light on the bittering, it ends with a smooth and crisp finish. Crushable on the ranch or at a music festival.
This was a top 3 beer I had while in Nashville. Impeccably crushable, while still having a moderately high ABV (~6%). I could drink this beer all day long and enjoy it.
Prerequisite for Excellence, S&L
West Coast inspired IPA with choice Citra, Simcoe and Mosaic. Expect an intense citrus and grapefruit zest profile with some tropical and pine notes.
I had this one late Sunday night, and I was worn out from the long day. I know that I loved this beer, but I cannot remember a single characteristic about it that inspired those feelings within me. Guess I’ll have to track some down and give it another sample soon!
A Note on Bearded Iris
I sang their praises upon my return from Nashville the last time, so I felt I had to touch on them again here despite not finding any of their current beers memorable or remarkable enough to put into my list above.
Bearded Iris this trip was good, but IPAs had a lot of similarity that made it hard to pick a winner. Basically, I liked them all - but found it hard to love any single IPA given how close in profile I found many of them. I would go back there and knock back a few without any hesitation, but nothing moved me to the point of writing down a note about it.
And that’s it! The list above turned out a bit longer than I originally imagined, but it’s not difficult to find words when speaking of great beer.