June 30, 2012

Nashville, TN: Craft Beer Bars and Brewpubs in Music City

Next stop after Asheville: Nashville!

Often times when you talk about Asheville people think you say "Nashville" and vice-versa. But where Asheville is Beer City USA, Nashville is undeniably Music City USA. It's an important distinction when comparing the two cities on the craft beer spectrum, but still, Nashville has plenty to offer the craft beer lover, and the options are quickly increasing. It just helps to know where to look.

When I lived in Nashville, Yazoo Brewing was about the only spot on the map. It's still the big contender in Music City, and I definitely recommend stopping by their taproom. Their Imperial Smoked Porter, a beer named Sue, is a must-try.

For this visit, however, I wanted to highlight a few spots around town that might carry Yazoo as well as some other local and regional beers.

Broadway Brewhouse & Mojo Grill

One of my all-time favorite beer bars, Broadway Brewhouse has an ambience, beer selection, and food menu that's hard to beat. There are five locations in the Nashville area: the original location midtown near Vanderbilt University, one downtown on Broadway, the third on Charlotte Pike in West Nashville, Brewhouse 100 in Bellevue, and Brewhouse South in Franklin/Cool Springs.

The midtown spot was a popular watering hole for me and my buddies in college, so I may be a little biased by nostalgia. It's definitely got a biker bar feel to it, but in the summer, there's nothing better than kicking back on the patio with some good friends, good brews, and Chipotle Chicken Wings. They've got darts, that game where you have to get the ring on the hook, and a bunch of TVs always tuned in to the big match. Sunday 2-4-1s are a great way to close out the weekend, but you can count on it being packed with Titans fans if the local team is playing.

The Broadway Brewhouse beer list seems to be keeping up with the trends. We were able to get the Founder's/Green Flash collaboration, a White IPA called Linchpin. To make a regular IPA "white," just take out the caramel malts and throw the balance in full favor of the hops. The Brewhouse also had the New Belgium Lips of Faith series on tap. They usually have a nice selection of Stone, Sweetwater, Terrapin, and of course, Yazoo as well.

The menu from the Mojo Grill side of the equation is an interesting combination of Cajun, Tex-Mex, and Southern. I can't say enough about the Chipotle Chicken Wings -- they are phenomenal. The prices are hard to beat, too, with most items on the menu less than $10. On this particular day, I got a Grouper Sandwich with a Rompo Red Ale from Jackalope Brewing Co., a new brewery in the Nashville scene. If you like coleslaw, you better getcha some cuz it's damn good at the Brewhouse.

Oh yeah -- beware the Brewhouse Bushwacker.


Seeing as how Bosco's just won a gold medal for their Hefeweizen at the World Beer Cup, I had to make this brewpub a part of my trip. Naturally, they were out of it! They're probably hoarding it down at their headquarters in Memphis. Still, we sampled the eight house beers they did have, all of which were respectable, and some of them pretty good (try the IPAs and the Scotch Ale). The Mediterranean Pizza was great, but I'd avoid the Chicken Club.

The Beer Sellar

Photo credit: Brent Moore
Although something of a dive, The Beer Sellar has 100 bottles and 50 taps, including many regional and local beers, and even some specialty pours you don't often see this far South, much less on draft, like Chimay, Lindeman's, Left Hand, and Stone. 

It's very conveniently located downtown on Church St. between 1st and 2nd Avenues, right around the corner from Hooter's. Their "bitchin' jukebox" cranks out some serious country and there are a few pool tables for your enjoyment. I passed the girls selling macros and enjoyed a Terrapin Hopsecutioner at the bar instead. 

It happened to be CMA Fest that week, so I chatted with some hardcore country fans from Kansas. They couldn't believe that native Nashvillians might want to avoid downtown during the festival. Some people can only handle so many cowboy boots and tank tops, I guess. In any case, the Beer Sellar is one of just a couple places downtown with a respectable beer list; honky-tonkers would do well to make it part of their country-fied festivities.

12 South Tap Room

I'm always wising I could spend more time at the 12 South Taproom. Next time, it will be one of the first places I go. While they may not have as many tap handles as the Flying Saucer, their service and selection are superb. I got a Green Flash IPA while my partner in crime got a New Belgium Tart Lychee, which she adored.

Watch out for hipsters.

The Flying Saucer

It would be criminal to write about Nashville beer bars without mentioning the Flying Saucer. During the school year, it's a Monday night hot spot for students, who flock here for Pint Night. For that reason, the Saucer kind of lost its magic for me. I seem to remember that they were always out of the first beer I wanted.... Still, the Flying Saucer probably has the most taps in Nashville. Check here to see what they (allegedly) have in stock.

Nashville may have a ways to go to catch up with some of America's big beer cities, but enjoy some good live music with good people and a local beer in hand, and you won't mind one bit.

Seth Walker at the Basement.
Thirsty for more? Check out the Nashville Lifestyles guide to Nashville's Best Beer.

Up next for the Local Beer Blog, Nashville's Jackalope Brewing Company.

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