Blackstone was Nashville’s first brewpub, opened on New Year’s Eve 1994. Well-known homebrewing author Dave Miller relocated to Nashville from St. Louis to create Blackstone’s line-up of beers, which feature award-winning regular selections and seasonals which rotate through regularly. Located strategically between Vanderbilt and downtown, Blackstone has become a Nashville icon.
It’s my favorite pub. I’ve probably visited the place more than a hundred times since I moved to Nashville over ten years ago. It used to be a consistent hangout for symphony musicians and members of the ballet after performances; I don’t know if that’s still the case as I rarely visit Blackstone at those hours anymore. One of my fondest Nashville memories is a late dinner there after seeing a performance of The Nutcracker at the performing arts center. My daughter was in kindergarten or first grade, and taking dance classes at the ballet’s school. We were seated near a large reserved table which soon filled with dancers, and my exhausted but ecstatic daughter got to meet the ballerina who had danced Clara that night.
It’s that kind of place. There are three dining rooms and a large bar area including a fireplace, and a small patio which unfortunately overlooks busy West End Avenue. Although it is a large place, it isn’t loud, and it’s a good place to have a relaxed conversation over good beer and pub comfort food. The menu (which changed slightly this Spring for the first time in years) is pretty traditional pub fare: burgers, fish and chips, pizzas, and some more upscale entrees.
There is no doubt that the main feature of Blackstone is the beer – the first thing one sees on entering is the brewery, which abuts West End and can be seen from the street – although they have a full bar and a wine selection too.
I visited this week with a friend for a quiet dinner and conversation and ordered a flight, which remarkably, I’ve never done before.
American Pale Ale 5.3 ABV 33 IBU (8)
Chaser Pale (Kölsch) 4.6 ABV 18 IBU (5)
Golden Ale (Wheat) 29 IBU (6)
Nut Brown Ale 5.6 ABV 23 IBU (7)
Red Dawn 29 IBU (7)
St. Charles Porter 5.8 ABV 34 IBU (7)
(phirx ratings) are on a scale of 1-10.
Blackstone’s beers are on the conservative side now compared to the wild array of American craft beers available. They bottle, keg, and distribute their beers too: yesterday at the grocery I saw six-packs for sale of their Nut Brown Ale and one of their seasonals, the excellent Maris Otter Pale Ale. Chaser Pale is their version of a Kölsch ale (more about my recent adventure brewing with this yeast to come soon in an upcoming post) – a very mild, very pale brew for (presumably) the Bud Light crowd. The Nut Brown Ale is extremely well-balanced, nutty and not as sweet as Newcastle. The Porter is excellent, and one of their most popular beers – they were serving it at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival this weekend, along with the APA – a hearty, malty porter that is so easy to drink it makes a nice session ale. Red Dawn is a rotation offering reminiscent of what used to be a regular beer at Blackstone – Red Springs Ale – is it the same? I am not sure as it was not my usual libation there. It is like most of their ales, light on the hops, although they are there. The Golden Ale is a wheat beer, with slightly more color than most. My favorite of the night was the American Pale Ale, which is my favorite of their regular offerings anyway – I had a pint of it after I finished the flight.
Blackstone’s seasonal offerings vary regularly and feature a number of beers I look for when I visit the restaurant. I was hoping they’d have Hop Jack on tap this week when I visited, one of their excellent IPAs. Adam Bomb is another, and not for the faint of heart. Blackstone makes excellent stouts too, at least two seem to rotate through each year, a terrific Oatmeal Stout during Winter months and the obligatory dry Irish Stout in March. Occasionally they have a Belgian style ale on tap as well.
My friend and I enjoyed the house-made pretzels with our flights, one of the typical yet satisfying offerings on the food menu.
I know I’ll be back soon!