July 3, 2012

Nashville, TN: Jackalope Brewing Company

Think the beer business is just for boys?

Not quite.

The CEO of New Belgium? Kim Jordan. The founder of Stoudt's? Carol Stoudt. And now, Bailey Spaulding and Robyn Virball are co-founders of Nashville's Jackalope Brewing Company.

What, you've never seen a Jackalope? Lepus temperamentalus is a rare species of deer-rabbit, from the same family as the Treintaycinco three-headed goat. But enough taxonomy, I digress...

Jackalope Brewing Company is situated in downtown Nashville near the intersection of 8th and Division Street. It's just down the road from the Yazoo Taproom and All Seasons homebrew supply shop, and across the street from my favorite beer, wine, and liquor warehouse, Frugal MacDoogal.

We visited the Jackalope Taproom on a Saturday, where a small, but growing crowd of day drinkers was beginning to accumulate. The two DJs spinning tunes in the side room were a nice touch -- this is Music City, after all.

We signed up for the $7 tour and ordered a sampler, which included Jackalope's three, year-round offerings, plus a seasonal brew:

  • Thunder Ann American Pale Ale
  • Unfiltered and fresh, featuring a nice dose of citrusy American hops.
    "I would kill everyone in this room for a 
    drop of sweet beer." - Homer Simpson
  • Rompo Red Rye Ale
  • A hazy, amber color, with strong caramel notes in the aroma, the Rompo goes down easy with those same caramel flavors and a grainy rye finish.
  • Bearwalker Maple Brown Ale
  • A very well-balanced beer with wisely restrained maple flavor, doing well to keep the Bearwalker from being too sweet.
  • Casper the Friendly Gose
  • Less sour than Westbrook's, this is an approachable and yes, very friendly, gose.

About halfway through the sampler, it was announced that the tour was about to start. We slammed the rest of the samples and followed our guide, co-owner Robyn Virball, through the former carpet and flooring warehouse and into the brewery. Robyn laid down some history and everyone smelled some malts and hops. I found it interesting that although Jackalope opened in May 2011, they spent seven or eight months brewing one keg at a time while they were waiting to get their 15-barrel brewhouse in order. Perseverance has paid off, and now Jackalope drafts can be found at several Nashville bars and restaurants.

We checked out the brewing equipment and met "Intern Steve," who was harvesting some yeast from one of the 15-barrel fermenters. After the tour the real fun began -- they brought out four growlers half-full of each of their beers. Let's do some math here...four growlers half-full (32oz x 4 = 128oz) divided by 5 people on the tour = about 25oz per person.  Now the girls didn't drink their share, so I definitely got my $7 worth. Hey, they're a new brewery -- don't take this as a guarantee that you'll get the same treatment.

Gotta hand to these to young entrepreneurs. Ditching their intended careers to launch a brewery, creating some very tasty beers right off the bat? I see many years of success ahead and look forward to some collaborations with the boys up the road.

Visit the Jackalope Taproom:

701 Eighth Ave. S., Nashville, TN
Thursday: 4PM - 8PM
Friday: 4PM - 8PM
Saturday: 4PM - 8PM

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