Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nashville. The Better Beer Authority meets the Better Beer Brigade!

our new friends

When a business trip opportunity presented itself to spend a few days in Nashville, I didn’t hesitate to book.  Shortly after I booked, the research commenced on where to find good beer.  I had heard good things about Nashville, being both a good beer town and an all around fun place to visit.

As one of the managers of the BBA Facebook page, I see all the comments and likes that come in.  One user that piqued my interested was The Better Beer Brigade. After researching them (read: Facebook stalking), I learned they are a craft beer distributor based in Nashville, TN (They are also known as Bounty Bev).  What a great chance to talk to them!  I soon began communicating with Matty Hargrove and set in motion an epic beer tour provided by Matty and The Better Beer Brigade.  The following is what ensued.  Enjoy, I know I did!

sampler at Boscos
Boscos brew house
After walking through the heart of Vanderbilt University’s campus to meet Matty at Boscos Restaurant and Brew Pub, and not getting any smarter by osmosis, I entered the brew pub and began an eight hour beer tour of Nashville.  I was immediately welcomed by Matty and soon, by the bartender.  After our greetings, I ordered a sampler of every beer on tap.  Of the eight beers I tried, most were very good.  After I was done sampling beers, I was introduced to head brewer Karen Lassiter, who took us up to the brew house and told me more about Boscos.  One of the things that really stuck out was their loyalty program and the contests they run.  You can win a special release bottle or even a trip to GABF!

used to be a dry cleaner
Our second stop was at Craft Brewed Bottle Shop and Tasting Room. I’ll start by saying this place is amazing.  Matty’s boss and Bounty Bev president Kurt Strickmaker was already there sharing a pint with Mo Oelker of Toucan Mobilecanning and his associate (apologies for forgetting your name good sir).  Every city in America needs a Craft Brewed place.  It is a tasting room with 21 offerings on tap, a quality bottle shop, home brew shop and mini beer garden in the back.  This one-stop beer destination has it all under one roof!  Growler fills are also available.

Craft Brewed tap handles
The BBA and BBB similarities don’t end with a TLA (Three letter acronym).  Kurt has long-time ties to Athens, Oh, where James (founder of BBA) and David (producer of BBA) met at Ohio University.  Also, by this point, the passion that BBB, AKA Bounty Bev showed towards craft beer was very apparent.  Considering some of the beer distributors I have met in Northern Virginia, these guys in Nashville are saints, and true ambassadors for craft beer.

bottles at Craft Brewed, some of which are distributed by Bounty
After a pint and a couple bomber purchases at Craft Brewed, Matty took me to the Better Beer Brigade headquarters, i.e their warehouse.  It was the first time I was ever in a distributors warehouse and it was awesome to see.  Each employee were genuinely nice, and fanatical about beer.  If I ever get a chance to open a brewery, I know who I want to distribute my products in Tennessee.

wall of posters at 12 South
After the warehouse we went to 12 South Taproom and Grill. Yet, another place I fell in love with.  Great people, awesome outdoor patio, killer tap list and the food smelled good.  I did not eat though.    The line up was a great mix of Tennessee beers and national brands.
Beer list at 12 South

Off to stop five where we went to Black Abbey BrewingCompany.  Black Abbey produces Belgian style ales, and are pretty good at making them.  The tasting room reminded me a lot of the San Diego breweries that are located in office parks.  Coronado and Green Flash come to mind as the tasting room is roped off from the brewing floor.  You can’t get fresher than that.  Once again I ordered the sample and also had a full pour of an ale on cask.  I tend to stay away from Belgian style ales, but I found all of these enjoyable with cool tasting glasses.  Again, another place I would keep on regular rotation if I lived in Nashville.

Black Abbey Sampler
Black Abbey cask
After our tastings at Black Abbey, we went full circle and headed back to Boscos for their Bombay IPA on cask and to Meet up with Matty’s wife Shelley.  Matty is part of the mug club and I was able drink from his guest mug. Did I feel a little more important?  A little.  Did I enjoy drinking out of the mug, hell yes!  The IPA on cask was really good, flavorful and smooth.

Mug Club at Boscos.  Filled with delicious cask IPA!
By the end of the tour, I was suffering from palate fatigue, so we went to Hattie B’s Hot Chicken for spicy fried chicken.  The food was fantastic, and the medium chicken burned a hole in my throat, tread lightly.  They also had a nice selection of local taps.

perfect meal after an 8 hour beer tour

I was shown every aspect of the craft beer world in one day, from production to distribution to consumer, it was a rare opportunity.
Matty, Shelley, and everyone I met at the stores, pubs, breweries and Bounty Bev were awesome people to meet and have some beers with. I was shown a great experience that many tourists to Nashville probably don’t get to see, and for that, I am very grateful!

Other stops I went to on my own that are also worth visiting:
Blackstone Restaurant and Brewery:  Good beer line up, good food, and I really dug the bar area.  It was also convenient to the Hampton Inn and Suites I stayed at.  Directly across the street!

Broadway Brewhouse downtown location.  Misleading name.  There is no brewhouse!  That being said, they have a very good tap list and decent food.

Beer Seller:  Decent selection of beer and a little quieter place for downtown area. I enjoyed my beer there.

I ate at Puckett's Grocery and Restaurant for lunch one day and enjoy the food, atmosphere and beer list.


Let the Better Beer Authority know what you think. Leave us a comment!