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.
Celtic Ale is my “house beer”. It’s a malty, copper-colored ale with a thick, creamy head that lasts to the bottom of the glass, and at around 4.6% ABV it’s a great session beer. I first started making this as an attempt to make something like Highland Brewing’s flagship Gaelic Ale, which is my wife’s favorite commercial beer. After the first couple batches however, I started experimenting with aspects of the recipe, using the constant extract and specialty grain bill as a background to try different yeasts. The last couple batches I settled on a Scottish Ale yeast, which seems to suit the character of this beer well.
Two Ten Jack describes their restaurant as an izakaya, or Japanese-inspired neighborhood pub, but don’t be fooled by the term “pub” – beyond the comfortable atmosphere, the decor, food, and drink offerings do not reflect the casual approach of an American or British style public house. Named for a Japanese trick-taking card game, Two Ten Jack is a suave, contemporary “nouveau cuisine” establishment for foodies and hipsters.