If you thought the local food movement was a force to be reckoned with, have a look at the stats for the local beer movement from the Brewers Association.
In 2011, the volume of American craft beer sold jumped 13.2 percent to 11.5 million barrels. That’s nearly double the 6.3 million barrels sold in 2005. The growth in individual breweries is also impressive, jumping from 1,394 in 2005 to 1,938 in 2011. Craft beer’s volume share of the overall U.S. beer market was 5.7 percent in 2011, the first time ever that craft brewers stole more than 5 percent of the market from the domestic, mass-market giants.
We celebrate this trend toward unique-quality suds and, thankfully, Nashville is hopping on the bandwagon with some new craft breweries of its own. According to the association, there are more than a dozen Middle Tennessee breweries in the planning stages that hope to join the likes of Yazoo Brewing Co., Nashville’s flagship craft brewer, and smaller newcomers such as Jackalope Brewery and Turtle Anarchy Brewing Co.
Fat Bottom Brewing in East Nashville is the latest to join the party. The company, operating out of the former Fluffo mattress warehouse at Main and Ninth streets, started brewing its first batches this week and hopes to open its taproom to the public on Friday, August 17.
“Even though Yazoo has been super successful, I think Nashville has been under-served when you look at cities like Portland, Denver and San Diego,” said owner and brewer Ben Bredesen, son of former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen. “Clearly there’s a lot of room in the local market.”
Taking a cue from the pinup girl in his logo, Bredesen said he wants to make “bigger, better, sexier” beers. On hand for opening night will be his “girls” Ginger, a wheat beer made with ginger; Ruby, a red ale; Black Bettie, an India black ale; and Bertha, an oatmeal stout.
While Bredesen’s primary goal is to become a regional production brewery, he also has made the taproom a major focus. Part of the warehouse’s roof was removed to create a courtyard/beer garden, the metal roof and wooden beams were used to build the taproom bar, and boards from pallets found in the warehouse were used to build walls.
“I wanted to honor the industrial history,” Bredesen said. “We kept a lot of the brickwork, and steel and a lot of the furniture is made from stuff that was in here.”
Furniture not constructed from materials left over in the warehouse was built from a single tree, and the taproom wall features Ben’s collection of rare beer bottles from around the world. Patrons will pass the production area on their way to the taproom, which will keep more expansive hours and a broader menu than the other local brewery tasting rooms.
Craft brewers owe some of their recent success to restaurants. For the second year in a row, locally produced beer and wine is one of the 10-hottest menu trends in a National Restaurant Association survey of nearly 1,800 professional chefs.
“In Nashville in particular, and East Nashville especially, the palate has been opened up,” Bredesen said. “People like to know where their food is coming from. That’s why Porter Road Butcher has been successful, and that’s why I hope I’ll be successful.”
Photo by Patricia Melton