Bosco’s is a small, regional chain of brewery restaurants that was started in the Germantown neighborhood of Memphis in 1992. Currently Bosco’s operates restaurants in Nashville, Franklin, Memphis, and Little Rock. I have been a regular since I moved here over ten years ago. The Nashville location is in the heart of Hillsboro Village, the small shopping and (mostly) restaurant district between Vanderbilt and Belmont universities, just a few blocks from Music Row.
The restaurant is a large, high-ceilinged room that includes the bar near the front windows and an open portion of the kitchen at the back featuring the brick pizza oven. The brewery looks over the dining room from an enclosed, second-story room at the back of the building. Bosco’s is not a place to come for an intimate conversation when it’s busy – it can be very loud. Usually I try to avoid it on Friday and Saturday nights if I don’t feel like shouting to be heard. On weekdays Bosco’s has a unique “cellarman” contest – after 3:30 pm patrons receive a ticket for every pint they purchase, and at 5:30 a number is drawn. The winning ticket holder gets the privilege of tapping that evening’s cask, and receives a Bosco’s “Beer Police” pint glass to boot.
I ordered a flight – Bosco’s has four beers “always on tap” and four rotating, special and seasonal beers.
Famous Flaming Stone 16 IBU (5)
Bombay IPA 58 IBU (7)
Hillsboro Brown Ale 28 IBU (7)
Isle of Skye Scottish Ale 32 IBU (8)
California Table Beer 45 IBU (5)
Rye IPA 61 IBU (8)
Dry Stout 35 IBU (7)
Dunkelweizen 15 IBU (6)
(phirx ratings) are on a scale of 1-10.
The menu describes Flaming Stone as “North America’s ‘Original Steinbier’. Brewed using a traditional German technique, stones heated in our wood fired ovens are lowered into the beer during the brewing process, giving the beer its unique caramel character.” Finding a beer brewed with this technique is no doubt rare, however the caramel character thus imparted seems very subtle to me. On the other hand, the Bombay IPA is not subtle at all, with a pronounced bitterness from start to finish imparted from Centennial and Cascade hops – the bitterness overshadows the more delicate of the hop flavors on this one. Hillsboro Brown is an English style nut brown ale – sweet and malty with a slightly bitter finish. Last of the Bosco’s regular line up, and my favorite, is the Isle of Skye, brewed with eight different malts and Northern Brewer and East Kent Goldings. Its rich and yet easy to drink, with hints of vanilla and smoke.
The California Table Beer is mild, light in body, and only slightly bitter. My favorite of this visit was the Rye IPA, brewed with Columbus, Centennial, Cascade, and Amarillo hops – spicy with subtle pepper notes. The stout was listed on the menu as a Dry Stout but on the board at the bar as a Coffee Stout. I think it was the latter – I tasted chocolate malt, with a bitter finish for stout. The Dunkelweizen is a wheat beer with the addition of roasted barley – it tasted like a hefeweizen with some characteristics of a brown ale.