Last week we went out to a late breakfast/early lunch at The Perch, our local crêperie par excellence. I hadn’t been by for a while, and although I was probably headed towards a cup of strong tea with my crêpe or maybe an espresso concoction, as my eye wandered over the short wine list chalked on the board I noticed their only beer offering: St. Stefanus Blonde Ale from Belgium. I suppose if they could only have one beer, it was a good choice!
In addition to being Independence Day in the United States, today is also The Session, a monthly group beer blogging event that was started in 2007 by Stan Hieronymous at Appellation Beer and Jay Brooks at Brookston Beer Bulletin. The Session occurs on the first Friday of every month; this month’s host is Bill Kostkas over at Pittsburgh Beer Snob. The topic of this month’s Session is: Beer in History.
Nashville’s first commercial brewery – simply named The Nashville Brewery – was founded in 1859 by a Jacob Stifel on the corner of High and Mulberry Streets. Several other brewing concerns and bottling companies operated in Nashville in the late 19th century, but it was Stifel’s brewery that, after several changes of ownership, became The William Gerst Brewing Company in 1893. The Gerst brewery grew to dominate the beer industry in Tennessee and throughout the American South in the early years of the 20th century, producing as much as 200,000 barrels annually and employing hundreds of people.
So many events, so little time. I was still feeling saturated from my tour of North Carolina when I arrived back home in Music City on the eve of Nashville Craft Beer Week 2014. In the end, I chose four events: a special appearance by New Belgium brewer Andy Sturm at 12 South Taproom on Thursday night, and three separate small batch releases at Black Abbey on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (I stopped by the Abbey and had a pint each afternoon: more about this in an upcoming post). Next year I will try to plan for this week more in advance.
Two weeks ago I received an email from an editor at Stay.com who asked me if I would be “interested in creating a guide with your favorite places to grab a beer around Nashville?” Well of course I was. So after some head scratching, some writing, more than a few beers, and emails back and forth between Nashville and Norway and Germany (I think?), the guide is now up live on the Stay.com site and available on their app as well.
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.
Located in the heart of Nashville’s 12 South neighborhood near Belmont and Vanderbilt universities, 12 South Taproom is a neighborhood beer bar and restaurant par excellence. The Taproom opened in 2006 and I started drinking there sometime in 2007, and have been visiting several times a year since. In the first few years they were open I went even more, as during those years they had live music every night. Some of Nashville’s finest musicians – session players or sidemen of big-name artists – often were there, either showcasing their side projects on the stage or sitting at the bar listening along with the rest of the crowd. After a number of years 12 South Taproom phased out the music, installing flat screen televisions over the bar and thus attracting the sports bar crowd more than those interested in the esoteric music scene. I miss the music, but I guess it was a sound business decision – the place has been absolutely packed every time I’ve been there for the last couple years.
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.