Monday, February 24, 2014

Brew and A with Black Abbey Brewing Company

Courtesy of Black Abbey Facebook page
During my Nashville beer tour provided by Matty Hargrove of Better Beer Brigade, AKA Bounty Bev, I was taken to Black Abbey Brewing company, who specializes in Belgian style beers.  I was immediately impressed with their tasting room as well as their beers.   I thought they would be a great addition to our Brew and A series as a small, up and coming brewery located in a town that is making huge strides in the craft beer world. Matty introduced me to Carl Meier, founder of Black Abbey Brewing company and he agreed to participate.  Thanks Carl!

Carl Meier (L), founder of Black Abbey.  Photo by Black Abbey Brewing

Better Beer Authority (BBA):  When I visited the brewery in November, there was always someone waiting in line for a beer in the tasting room.  At the time, I was told you weren't distributing or bottling.  Has anything changed since?  Can your beers be found outside of the brewery?

Carl Meier (CM): Absolutely!  Tennessee State Law allows for breweries to distribute their products in the county where they are manufactured.  We handle distribution for Davidson County (Metro Nashville) and we work with BoutyBev as our distribution partner for counties outside of Davidson.  Right now we have beer in 85 bars/restaurants around middle Tennessee.
courtesy Black Abbey website

BBA:  I found the Nashville beer scene flourishing, friendly, and collaborative.  What makes Nashville a great place to be a brewer?  Also, how has the beer scene grown in Nashville while under the umbrella of outdated ABC laws in Tennessee?  

CM:  Nashville is a great place for brewers for a number of reasons.  The camaraderie, cooperation and caring attitude between and amongst brewers here is real, not fake at all.  We are all pulling the same rope.  If Black Abbey is making good beer, that’s good for Jackalope, BlackStone, Yazoo, etc.  if Black Abbey is making bad beer, that hurts our local beer community.  We take care of each other, we hang out together, Lord knows we drink some beer together.  It has been a wonderful experience for us at Black Abbey to be welcomed into the community of craft with open arms.  

The outdated beer laws in TN are just that, outdated.  Specifically the arbitrary ABV cap in the state.  Fix The Beer Cap That Cap That Ales Us  ,[ or as they are commonly known] has a lot of very useful and detailed information about what is going on in the state right now and how The Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild is working to help change laws, policies and statutes to make our economy more friendly towards one of the most rapidly growing industries in the country.  Tennessee has always prided itself on being a pro-business pro-economic growth state, and those policies have done well for TN and for Nashville specifically.  Giving the local breweries the opportunity to provide our customers with a wide variety of high quality beer benefits Tennessee beer drinkers, it benefits economic development (folks moving here from Colorado or San Diego are surprised that they cannot find the broad spectrum of beer that they are used to seeing in grocery and package stores) and it grows local government coffers.  Fixing the beer cap really is a win-win.

BBA:  I don't know why, but I was surprised to find a Belgian style brewery in Nashville.  It only added to my fondness for the entire scene there.  Why did you think a Belgian style brewery would work there?

CM: I think a big part of the reason that our local beer scene is thriving and that the breweries all get along so well together is that we each bring something different to the table.  We each have a different take, a different stable of beers, different marketing approaches.  It makes the Nashville beer scene more robust and gives the local consumer more choices and a better appreciation for beer in general.  We have always loved belgian-style ales and knew that we wanted to focus our efforts on that style, among others.  The think I love most about abbey ales is the culture.  they are delicious and known as some of the best in the world, but I love the idea of the chapter house, where monks and lay-people meet and share pints.  We have always focused on brewing beer that is unique BUT approachable.  We really focus on making high quality beer that people can enjoy more than 1 of, that people can share throughout a conversation, an evening, a game or a party.  The Belgian-stlye framework of community and fellowship through beer appeals to us, in many ways, more than the styles of beer that we love to brew!

Courtesy of Black Abbey Facebook page

BBA: I see Black Abbey has participated in some beer festivals and events, including the 12 South Winter Warmer.  How do you decide what beers to bring to festivals and events?

CM: Excellent question.  As a new brewery it is important for us to “get our name out there” through the festival circuit.  It is also important, however, for us to be associated with high quality events that people love to attend, have great reputations and provide the attendees with a unique and memorable experience.  The Nashville area is fortunate to have many such festivals, big and small.  12South Winter Warmer is one of our favorites because of its size and its focus.  When a festival is limited to 1,000-1,500 attendees it allows the breweries flexibility to bring unique and “off the radar” projects, be they barrel aged beers, cask conditioned beer, etc to share with the attendees.  That’s why 12S Winter Warmer is one of the best festivals I have ever attended, because it is so unique and the breweries really bring “IT”!

Nashville has plenty of large festivals as well, and they are a great opportunity for a brewery to get their flagship products in front of a large number of people in a short period of time, which is also very important to the growth of a brand. 

I really feel like we have the best of both worlds here in town. 

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