Hops + Crafts is a small taproom in The Gulch that opened less than a year ago. Already it is gaining a reputation in town as a great place to have a pint or try new offerings from local and regional craft breweries. Hops + Crafts gained national recognition this winter when they made Draft magazine’s annual list of America’s 100 Best Beer Bars 2014. You can read the entire list here:
It’s a small place. There are several tables inside where the bar is and a couple outside in the patio as well. Sliding glass doors separate the bar from the patio, and these were open on the sunny, beautiful afternoon I visited this week. After looking over the current menu (which rotates out pretty frequently) I decided to drink IPAs, and ordered a flight.
Hops + Crafts flights are 6 pours, they seem to be around 3.5 – 4 oz. each.
I chose two local IPAs:
Tennessee Brew Works, Nashville, Cutaway IPA, 6 ABV, 70 IBU (7)
Calfkiller Brewing Co., Sparta, TN, Scorned Hooker, (6)
Tennessee Brew Works’ Cutaway is named for the guitar body-style that allows the player to easily finger notes very high on the fretboard without moving their arm from the same relaxed position used for lower notes, with the left elbow behind the plane of the neck of the instrument. It’s a lot easier to play high leads on a cutaway – it’s a favorite guitar style of many famous Nashville session players, and thus an apt moniker for a local brew. I like this beer (I’ve had it here before) – it’s bright and bitter, but not outrageously so. There is not a lot of hop presence beyond the bitterness. Scorned Hooker, however, was mislabeled on the posted menu as an IPA. You can clearly see that it’s an Amber Ale (far right on the photo above) and listed as such on Untappd.
The other beers I tried were from a bit farther afield:
Fort Collins Brewery, Fort Collins, CO, Rocky Mountain IPA, 6.2 ABV (7)
Stone Brewing Co., San Diego, CA, Go To IPA, 4.5 ABV (1)
Rivertown Brewing Co., Lockland, OH, Helles Lager, 5.3 ABV (6)
Rivertown Brewing Co., Lockland, OH, Ella: Jason’s Bombshell IPA, (6)
Terrapin Beer Co., Athens, GA, Mosaic Red Rye IPA 6.3 ABV (6)
(phirx ratings) are on a scale of 1-10.
The Fort Collins IPA is delicate and floral, more like an English IPA than the American style except for the pronounced bitterness. Go To IPA from Stone Brewing, however, looks and smells like cat urine. I could barely bring myself to taste it – I took two small sips – the odor was so overwhelming. Ew. What were they thinking? Did they sparge out the contents of the kitty litter box to make this one? I was very surprised as I have enjoyed several Stone beers in the past.
When I tasted the beer from Rivertown, it seemed incredibly mild for an IPA – until I realized it was noble hops I tasted. It was a lager. I went to the bar and checked with our friendly barmaid (who was only on her third shift at Hops + Crafts) and after some sniffing and sampler pours, realized she had served me the wrong beer. So I got to try both of the offerings from Rivertown on tap at Hops + Crafts. Their IPA was decent but not memorable. Terrapin’s Mosaic is an interesting hybrid – a single varietal ale made with Mosaic hops, with presumably a complex malt base including both rye and roasted barley.
After my flight I was still thirsty, so I had one last pint:
Good People IPA, Good People Brewing, Birmingham, AL (8)
Still my favorite of the regional IPAs in town right now.
Hops + Crafts has a small menu of snacks and a limited selection of locally made pizzas to go with their pours – I had a Bavarian pretzel this time, which was excellent.