Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Previewing the 2016 Nashville Predators Craft Beer Festival

Now that summer has officially begun, it’s time to prepare for the coolest beer festival in town! On Saturday, June 25th, from 4 PM to 8 PM, the Nashville Predators Craft Beer Festival presented by ORCA Coolers returns to Bridgestone Arena. There will be more than 60 breweries represented at the beer festival, held on the arena’s Concourse Level.

Proceeds of the event benefit the Nashville Predators Foundation, which supports Middle Tennessee community non-profit groups and programs. There are only a limited number of tickets still available and the festival is 21 and up, with no exceptions. All attendees must present a valid ID with ticket for entry.

Two different ticket packages are available for the event. General admission tickets are currently $65 and $75 at the door and VIP tickets are currently $125 and $150 at the door. Both packages include a souvenir glass, unlimited tastings and a voucher for a ticket to a 2016-17 Monday-Thursday Nashville Predators home game in September or October (excluding Opening Night) located in the Upper Bowl. VIP tickets also include a VIP check-in and a special VIP tasting area in the Lexus Lounge that includes food and special craft brews. Designated driver tickets are also available for the event ($65 for lower bowl Preds ticket, $30 for upper bowl ticket), which include complimentary soda, water and a Preds ticket voucher.

Nashville Predators Senior Director, Community Relations Rebecca King previews the fourth annual Nashville Predators Craft Beer Festival. When asked what the coolest beer festival in town means to her, she replied, “It’s hot outside and this event is held in the heart of downtown, but inside one of the coldest buildings in Nashville. Typically, one that houses an ice rink. What makes this event even cooler is the opportunity to come back in the fall and watch a Preds game.”
When asked what’s new for the event in 2016, she had this to say: “We brought on ORCA Coolers as our title sponsor, which is a great, local company. They’re going to have some activation at the event. Our VIP area will have local craft-brewed beer. Previously, we had Belgian and bitter beers, but this year we’re going local. I talked to Jackalope and they’ve been peeling peaches from The Peach Truck for some creative beers for people to try.”

According to Ms. King, there will not be any changes to the paper balloting for attendees to vote for the Best Brewery competition this year. The winning brewery with the most votes receives a trophy at the event (which is a beer tap handle, made out of an NHL hockey stick), along with a guitar with the event logo on it and gets the opportunity to pour their craft beers at several Nashville Predators home games in November of 2016. For two out of the past three years, Jackalope Brewing Company has won the award and will be hunting for their overall third award.

Other new additions for the beer festival include new tasting glasses, as well as new baseball-style souvenir t-shirts. There will be a variety of food and entertainment options taking place at the event, including the NHL draft, which will be shown throughout the building on the various television sets.
“We’re excited. This is one of our favorite events,” Ms. King added.

With the additional excitement of the Predators competing in last year’s NHL playoffs, tickets to the event should be in high demand. “Our cap is 2,500 and I think we will get pretty close to that. Each year, attendance numbers make a jump. I think getting two events for the price of one is a nice perk. In addition to a beer fest, you also get a hockey ticket.”

In May of this year, the Nashville Predators Foundation handed out more than 100 grants totaling $450,000, which is the largest one-time allocation in history for the organization, and that doesn’t include the $200,000 donated toward pediatric cancer research, the different KaBoom projects throughout the city, the high-school scholarships donated for students to attend college and a variety of other programs.

Established in September 1998, the Predators Foundation aims to meet the educational, social, health and cultural needs of the community by offering unique resources and financial support to local youth-oriented organizations. Last year, the organization donated more than $1 million in cash to community organizations during the 2015-16 season and overall has awarded more than $5 million to the greater Nashville community.

View ticket information here.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Previewing Taste the Rarity Beer Festival

This week offers major milestones for Wiseacre Brewing Company. Starting on May 16th, the West Tennessee brewery’s taproom will now be open from Monday to Saturday, six days a week, and on Saturday, May 21st, from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Wiseacre will host the third-annual Taste the Rarity beer festival at its Memphis brewery.

There will be live music performing at the event, along with backyard games, food trucks and an assortment of different breweries in attendance, providing craft beer that would normally be difficult to find in the area. Wiseacre will also release Unicornucopia 2016, which is a gin barrel-aged Imperial IPA, at the festival.

Wiseacre Co-Founder Kellan Bartosch previews the Taste the Rarity beer festival:

Please tell me the backstory of Taste the Rarity.
– “Taste the Rarity is a third-year festival. My brother and I were both in the beer business before opening Wiseacre. My brother (Davin Bartosch) was a brewer in Chicago for about six years, going to a brewing school in Germany and I worked for Sierra Nevada. Along the way, we both made a lot of friends in the beer industry and we wanted to have a party to celebrate with our friends, for the most part. They wanted to see our brewery, so we decided to turn it into a festival.”

What does “Taste the Rarity” mean?
– “The name is really just a joke. In the beer world, everybody wants to try what they haven’t had before. If you haven’t tried a rare beer before, you tend to get this notion that it’s going to be something that’s amazing. Rare doesn’t taste like anything. It’s sort of a joke.”

“The breweries that will be there all have beers that you can’t get on a regular basis in Memphis. For the most part, they’re not available in the South at all. Half Acre, 3 Floyds and Solemn Oath are some of the best breweries in the country that are coming down for the event.”

What’s new at the festival for 2016?
– “New this year, is some breweries that haven’t attended in the past, including Hardywood Park, from Richmond. They’re one of the best breweries in Virginia. They’re not as big as Devils Backbone, but they’ve won a lot of awards for their beer. This is their first year at the festival. The Grizzline — the drumline for the Memphis Grizzlies — came last year. They’ll be back. I guess what’s new this year is more on the internal side. We really want to show off our city. We’re from Memphis; we’ve always loved the city. For people who are coming into town, we really want to treat them well. For the past few years, it’s been a big success. People have loved being there and some have returned during the year, just for fun.”

“Another thing that’s new is our release of Unicornucopia. It’s a goofy name for a beer, but we consider it a Grand Cru or a best-of beer. One year we did a saison with blueberries and grains of paradise, but this year we’re doing a gin barrel-aged double IPA. You’ll see a lot of bourbon barrels used in the beer world, but this is a gin barrel-aged beer.”

Is the festival an indoor or an outdoor event?
– “It’s outside. Weather permitting, it’ll work out well. Even if there is some rain, we’ll have four really big tents set up. There’s live music that’ll be performed. The Mighty Souls Brass Band is kind of a New Orleans band that’s a blast to be around. They play for an hour then a band called Big Barton will play for an hour, then they’ll rotate around. There will be music, there will be backyard games and barbecue — which is obviously a Memphis thing — and a few other food trucks. We expect about 700 people to attend. For the past two years, we’ve sold a ton of tickets the last two weeks before the event happens. We should sell out. It’s a big, fun time.”

What are some Wiseacre beers that might not be easy to find in Nashville?
– “We’ve made about 70 beers, so far. We release four year-round beers: Tiny Bomb, Ananda, Gotta Get Up To Get Down and Adjective Animal. Then there’s the seasonal line that’s widely available, including our summer saison, Tarasque. The one-offs that we do every month, we’ll have available in smaller quantities in all of our markets. Recently there was a maibock with popcorn that we called Men Not Machines. There’s a smoked Helles that’ll be out soon, as well as a peach Berliner Weisse. With a lot of those one-offs, we may send 15 cases to Nashville. So, if you’re not on the lookout at the better beer stores around town, you might miss them, but we do have those beers in our taproom, all of the time. We want people to see the best that we have to offer and be wowed when they’re there, so they’ll come back.”

Is there anything else you’d like to add? – “For us, this is one of our favorite times of the year. It’s an event that we get to share with our good friends. We love it and we think it comes across to the attendees, as well.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Previewing the Way Late Play Date: Dystopian Worlds

This is the end. Do you have the necessary skills to become a survivor… or will you become one of the many undead creatures that haunts your hometown? The choice is yours at the Way Late Play Date: Dystopian Worlds!

On Thursday, April 28th, Nashville’s Adventure Science Center will host the Way Late Play Date, which is an adults-only themed event featuring life during the Zombie Apocalypse, a totalitarian state and a radioactive wasteland. Post-apocalyptic life is grand, wouldn’t you agree?

Tickets are $20 for members and $30 for non-members, which includes admission to all of the event’s exhibits and activities, three beverage tickets, a planetarium show and a souvenir cup.
Events Manager Jennie Stumpf previews the event, gives some tips for all costume-contest participants and offers a sneak peek into Ender’s Game Room!

Is this the first time a Way Late Play Date has featured a Dystopian theme?
“Yes! This theme was voted on by our social-media followers, which is exciting, because we know this is what past Way Late-goers want to see! I think they are going to be really happy with where Adventure Science Center has taken it.”

How was Dystopian Worlds chosen as the theme?
“Coming up with a theme is so much fun, because there is science in everything, but the challenge is to think of a theme that is current and popular, so everyone can get excited about it. I thought the Dystopian Worlds theme was perfect, because it lets us explore so much science — like medicine, diseases, natural disasters and more — but from movies, books and video games that everyone knows, like The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, The Walking Dead and Resident Evil.”

Why do you think science pairs so well with The Apocalypse?
“Because there are real-life scenarios that would bring about the Apocalypse and only science can prepare us! Our educational activities are designed to teach you the skills to survive.”

Will there be any themed craft beer or foods to pair with this special event?
"We are so grateful to both Mayday Brewery and Fat Bottom Brewing for being our beer sponsors. Fat Bottom let us know they are bringing their seasonal brew, Lychee Weisse. We are also very excited to have Steaming Goat and Electric Sliders food trucks, who are always so clever in coming up with themed-menu items.”

Please tell me a little about the planned education activities, especially Ender’s Game Room.
“You will learn how to purify water, start a fire, treat a wound, identify edible insects and learn what changes in the brain could result in a Zombie state of mind. In addition to all of these activities prepared by Adventure Science Center staff, there will also be an entire digital gaming room, with multi-player games like Fallout and Call of Duty, thanks to our friend Brian Wessels.”

What movie will be shown in the Sudekum Planetarium during this event?
“This will be a brand new show for the Sudekum Planetarium called Death From the Skies. It looks at five different doomsday scenarios that could result in the end of the world, as we know it!”

What’s one thing attendees may not know about this event?
“I’m not sure everyone understands the group sale, but it’s pretty awesome. If you can gather your friends (plus their friends) and form a group of 20 or more, you can explore the entire Science Center, see a planetarium show, participate in all of the activities listed above, and drink three drinks (beer, wine or soda) from a souvenir Adventure Science Center cup that’s yours to keep, for only 20 bucks! We offer any group of 20 or more our member ticket price of just $20 each.”

Do you have any tips for costume-contest participants?
“We always encourage Way Late Play Date guests to go all out and get creative for the costume contest! That being said, Adventure Science Center has a strict no-weapons policy. No real weapons can be brought on site and any costume weapons must be made inoperable. So, to the Katniss Everdeens out there, bring the bow, but either leave the arrows or zip-tie them in their holder.”

Will Dystopian Worlds be the only Way Late featuring Zombies this year?
“We are pitting Star Wars fans against Star Trek fans at the next Way Late Play Date on July 28th. Then, back by popular demand, Harry Potter will be the theme for our October 6th Way Late Play Date. So, yes, Dystopian Worlds will be our most Zombie-filled Way Late this year!”

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
“This is a brand-new theme with a ton of activities, a photo booth to jump in with your friends, a DJ taking requests and a chance to win free tickets to the next Way Late Play Date at the costume contest! So, please come out and join in the fun by purchasing your tickets today!”

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Previewing the 2016 Funk Fest

Nashville’s about to get a bit funky when the 2016 Funk Fest returns to the Music City on May 14. Hosted by Yazoo Brewing Company from 1 PM to 5 PM, this craft-beer festival featuring wild and sour beers will take place on a Saturday for the very first time, this year.

Appearing at the fourth-year festival, there will be craft-beer industry guest speakers, special craft beers only available at the event and an exclusive bottle release only available for festival attendees. Just in case you’re interested in attending this event, you’d better act quickly. Within 90 minutes of tickets going on sale to the general public, half the ticket allotment has already been sold. For an event that sells out every year, the quicker you purchase your tickets, the better.

“Do not sleep on these tickets,” proclaimed Brandon Jones, head of Yazoo’s Embrace the Funk souring program. “I promise you’re going to be upset if you miss out, this year.”

Previewing the event, I spoke with Mr. Jones in an attempt to uncover the secrets behind this year’s festival, including a collaboration beer and the revelation of a guest speaker appearing at the craft-beer celebration.

Please tell me a little about the first Funk Fest. – “The first Funk Fest happened in 2013. The first year it took place only inside the brewery, but the past couple of years, we’ve had to expand outside a little bit. It kind of grew and moved into the parking lot, upstairs and beside the silo, as our space got more limited from bringing in larger tanks.”

What can people expect at Funk Fest this year? – “A lot (laughs). I’ve got to be a little coy on it. Part of the thing that started out with Funk Fest is we had a lot of people buy into a festival that was based on a very specific beer style. Nobody else had done one in the state, centered around sour and wild beer and funky cheeses. So, we had this bit of secrecy, going into the fest, that I think people enjoyed. They had no idea what beers were going to be there. We never release a beer list before the day of the event. We will tell some of the breweries that will be here, especially the people who give talks, but we like to keep some of those fun secrets. I don’t feel like we’re hiding any information from people, because this is our fourth year doing it and people have enjoyed it every year. I think they enjoy the surprise: What’s coming up next? What, in the world, have they got planned for us, this year?”

“What I can say is we will definitely have another special bottle release. The big change, this year, will be bottles labeled as “Funk Fest,” and not ETF bottles. It’ll still have the ETF logo and will be produced by ETF, but it will be branded as a Funk Fest 2016 bottle and it will be a festival exclusive. In previous years, we have sold the extras the following week in the taproom. We will not do that, this year. So, if you want to buy the Funk Fest beer, you HAVE to be at Funk Fest and you need a ticket. If there are some extras, we’ll allow extra purchases, but the beers have come pretty close to selling out, each year.”

Is there any chance for more Funk Fest beers being released, throughout the year? – “Probably not, because we do have our own program — The State of Funk — for other limited-edition beers that don’t make it to the public. That’s all of our single-barrel and unblended batches that we produce, just for our citizens. I’ve already committed myself to making eight of those, each year and the Funk Fest beer will be beer No. 9 that I’m making that will never be released to the general public, only available to citizens and attendees of Funk Fest. Nine is probably getting to my limit that I’m only able to produce 200 to 250 bottles of, at a time. I’m really trying to concentrate on growing the beer program. I would really like to see ETF, more, as a shelf beer and then transition more of our rare stuff into The State of Funk program, where I have a known number of bottles to produce. That still gives me the creative outlet to try different fruits, spices, herbs and barrels.”

“I feel like we’ve established flagships like Deux Rouges — which we’re brewing twice as much as we did last year. We’re brewing twice as much Bret Saison, Berliner Weisse and Delicieux. We’ve got four or five flagship beers that I’m trying to make as a large seasonal/year-round type of thing. I’d like for those beers to be sold, basically, year round. Having them sold as a shelf beer would be a huge accomplishment. People shouldn’t have to go to the ends of the Earth, just to enjoy a good beer.”

What can we expect from the craft-beer industry speakers appearing at Funk Fest? – “Funk Fest was always about throwing a party, but it was also about having the opportunity to educate people on these styles: Letting them know what they are, why we produce them, why they taste a certain way and dispel whatever myths that have gained traction in the craft-brew world. Every year, we always bring in guest speakers. I can only say something a certain amount of times, but if I bring in someone else to say it, then it might resonate. They get to discuss their process and I learn a lot from them. There’s plenty of things that I learn from listening to the speakers. Walt Dickinson from Wicked Weed has been a big supporter and big proponent of our education, here. He shows up every year and gives a talk about his beer.”

“We haven’t released it yet, but Lauren Salazar from New Belgium is going to be our speaker! Lauren is, if not the finest blender in the entire world, she’s definitely in the Top Two. I’m really pumped to have her here. She’s the one who blends La Folie every year and runs the QC at New Belgium. She is a really incredible speaker who people will learn a lot from. We’ll have a few other guest speakers. People won’t have to hear me speak, that day. We open up our stage for our friends and put them on the spotlight.”

Please tell me more about the citizens program. – “We launched our State of Funk program last year, where for $250, you were able to get eight single-barrel exclusive beers that will never be sold to the public. You already got your ticket to Funk Fest locked in — if you followed the instructions in the e-mail. Then, as a bonus, your first pint, every time you came into the taproom, was free. If you wanted to show up four days a week, then your first beer was free, every single time, throughout the entire year. I think we truly made the absolute most generous private beer club, that any brewery has ever done. I would invite someone to show me one more generous. That certainly made a lot of local people happy. We had a lot of out-of-state people join up, but most of them were local. It was a good way to give back and make the incentives more local-driven. It was a way to reward people who were supporting Yazoo a year before the ETF program even started, who were drinking Pale Ale, Sue and all the Yazoo flagship brands. It was a way to support those people, who supported us, from Day One. I hope they feel the same way at the end of the year, that they got a nice reward, it was well worth it and they will re-up for Year Two.”

Would you like to tease anything else for Funk Fest? – “I guess the biggest teaser I have, at this point, is you have no idea what we have planned, from the time you walk in the gate ’til the time you leave, but I promise you’ll walk away amazed, this year, at some of the ideas we have. There will be the debut of a special collaboration beer, just for this festival.”

Will the collaborating brewery have a representative at the festival? – “The collaborator will be at the event. Yes.”

Get your tickets to Funk Fest here.

Monday, March 21, 2016

What’s on Tap at East Nashville Beer Works

By Matt Kelsey

The northeast corridor of East Nashville will soon receive a craft-beer infusion when East Nashville Beer Works opens its doors later this year.

Founded by Anthony Davis and Sean Jewett, the soon-to-be-opened brewery will feature well-balanced craft beer full of bright flavors. Housed in the former Binco Cleaning Supplies building, the brewery will feature 4,000 square feet of space, which will include a taproom, a kitchen and a wide open space to fill with all of their brewing equipment. Currently, the areas that surround the property are kind of a craft-beer and restaurant desert (with the exception of Charlie Bob’s Restaurant and The Pharmacy), but that may soon change with the brewery’s arrival.

“Nothing sets an area off, like a brewery,” commented Davis.

The estimated opening date for the brewery is late spring, with beer going out for distribution in early May and the taproom scheduled to open in late May or early June. Until then, the founders have been hard at work remodeling the building. Both have a passion for craft beer. Mr. Davis, a native Tennessean who grew up in the Bellevue area, currently represents Inglewood on the City Council. Mr. Jewett is originally from Southern Illinois, who was introduced to the area while attending MTSU and Vanderbilt University. He has been brewing beer for six years, now, while gathering feedback from friends on every brew.

“The theme of our beer is balanced and bright,” said Davis. “All of our beer is balanced — even our hoppier stuff is not a bitter bomb. Whether it’s an IPA or not, they lean toward bright flavors.”

The founders hope to create a taproom-oriented brewery, which will soon become their customer’s third-most frequented place, outside of their home and their job. Their aim is to provide 12 different crafty and artisan styles of beer on tap, at any given time. Every beer selection will be available in the taproom, throughout the year.

Flagship Craft Beers include:
  • Miro Miel: The name of this honey blonde is an homage to Nashville’s Miro district of the past. It’s an easy-drinking beer made with local honey and a good macro-conversion that has an ABV around 5.2%.
  • Swing Bridge IPA: Named after the actual bridge in Shelby Park, this full-bodied IPA really represents East Nashville.  Described as an East Coast-meets-West Coast beer, it’s more fruity-floral than a bitter bomb, clocking in at 6.2% ABV.
  • Woodland Street Session Series: This 4.5% ABV beer will have floral hops randomly changing throughout the year, for availability. Every batch doesn’t have to be altered, but there may be a few different versions available in the brewery’s taproom.
  • Cumberland Punch: This American Wheat will be available during the warmer months. It’s got a 6.2% ABV and features a citrusy taste with slight hop undertones.
  • Young Hickory Smoked Porter: During the colder months, this full-bodied, 4.5% ABV smoked Porter will be available. Its grains will be smoked at the brewery.
  • There will also be a variety of IPAs available at the brewpub, as well.
“There’s always going to be room for more beer in the market… of course, it just has to be really good beer,” said Davis.

According to Sean, there will be some high-gravity beers available in the tap room from the get-go. (Be on the lookout for a double IPA and an Imperial Stout!) Once completed, the building will not be a sports bar or feature loud bands performing, but the aim is to create a chill brewpub atmosphere that connects with the local community. Outside, a 20-foot wraparound deck will surround half the building and feature an outdoor serving window that meets the bar, so outdoor customers who are either enjoying the firepit or playing Horseshoes can get refills without physically walking into the building. Future plans also include growing hops along one wall of the building, as well.

Anthony: “If it’s a great place, people are going to go there. No one asks if there are too many coffee shops. As we want to become the third place for you, the craft-beer conversation will get there, too. As more breweries open that are more taproom-oriented and place-based, I think that conversation will go away, at some point.”

Sean: “I agree. Coffee is a little bit different than beer, but there’s a lot of similarities. If you’re going to drink coffee, you want a nice, comfortable place to relax, where you can read a newspaper or do your work. We want to provide that kind of place, where you can drink some beer. You just want to spend some time there, eat some food while you’re there and drink some beer.”

East Nashville Beer Works plans to create a one-page menu of artisan pizzas and salads to pair along with their craft-beer selections. During the first year of operations, the brewery aims to distribute their product throughout Middle Tennessee and letting the market decide their growth model. Eventually, the company aims to can their beers.

What do you want people to think, when they hear the name, East Nashville Beer Works?
Anthony: “We want people to think about community. Beer is community. That’s our slogan for a reason. We want to be a very community-involved brewery. Great balanced and bright beer and a very community-driven brewery and taproom.”

Sean: “I want it to be a place where you can have a great time, the beer and the food is good, and there’s a great atmosphere that will invite you back again.”
Overall, the founders want to create a variety of craft beers, constantly adding new selections to their taproom draft list. The guys are aiming to open their brewery soon and hope to make their first ever beer-fest appearance at this year’s Brew at the Zoo. They’re also looking forward to participating in the Mafiaoza’s Music City Brewer’s Festival, as well as many other summer events. Find out more about upcoming brewery events via their social media.

For more information about East Nashville Beer Works, visit their website here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Previewing the Beer, Bacon and Bourbon Festival

By Matt Kelsey

This week, craft beer, bacon and bourbon will unite for a unique festival in Middle Tennessee. On Saturday, March 5th, The Factory will host Franklin’s Beer, Bacon and Bourbon Festival from 5 to 9 PM.

The first-year event will feature local and regional craft-beer selections, along with a variety of bacon-themed hor d’oeuvres and the finest bourbon found in the South. There will also be a Tennessee Home Brew Exhibition taking place at the festival, where local homebrewers will compete for the event’s top prize and cash award. Attendees are encouraged to vote for their favorite entry. Music City Motorsports will have a number of luxury cars on display at the event and a portion of the festival’s proceeds will go toward Franklin’s Mercy Community Healthcare. Admission is $75 and tickets are incredibly limited, so make sure to grab them quickly, before they disappear.
Previewing the event, Acklen Park Productions President Matt Lowney answered a few of my questions about the Beer, Bacon and Bourbon festival:

Please describe some of your responsibilities with the festival.
“I’ve been putting on a variety of events for several years and Beer, Bacon and Bourbon has been on my list for a long while, as an idea. I’m responsible for everything from concept to execution of the event.”

What’s the history of this festival? How’d it get started?
“We’ve done other beer festivals around Middle Tennessee over the last few years, but we wanted to do something different and creative. We hope we’ve delivered on that.”

How would you describe this event to a first-time attendee?
“It’s a laid-back event that won’t be ‘too packed,’ as other other beer festivals tend to be. We will have several tasting stations and hope that people appreciate the concept.”

Why does beer, bacon and bourbon pair so well together?
“I think they are all popular, currently, so we thought, ‘Why not put them all in the same event?'”

How are the beer selections chosen for the event?
“Most of the beers are going to be local/regional, so that’s a big driver. A couple of our local breweries include Tailgate and Yazoo.”

Is it too late to register for the homebrewer competition?
“No, it’s not too late. We could squeeze a couple of more in. They can contact me directly if they are interested.”

What’s one thing about the event that attendees may not know?
“This is a unique and new experience for Franklin. We hope that people really enjoy the experience.”

For more information about the Beer, Bacon, and Bourbon Festival, visit their website here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Previewing the 2016 Nashville Chili Festival

By Matt Kelsey

Middle Tennessee will soon feel the heat when the 2016 Nashville Chili Festival returns. On Sunday, February 14, from 12 noon to 3 p.m. Yazoo Brewing Company will host this year’s event, pairing craft beer with chili. What a perfect combination!

There will be a wide variety of chili styles available for attendees to sample at the festival, including vegetarian selections and even chili prepared with beer as an ingredient. Spicy-food fans, prepare yourselves: Not only will there be a selection of five-alarm chilis, but there will also be a pepper-eating contest! Event Coordinator Tracey Hawk previews the festival, which is available for both competing teams, as well as general-admission attendees.

What’s the history of this festival? How’d it get started?

“The Nashville Chili Festival began as a way to increase awareness and create a fun event for Community Shares. We are entering our fourth year of the Nashville Chili Festival. This event is a great way to try chili, vote on your favorite and help support a wonderful non-profit.

Has the festival always been hosted by Yazoo? How did the brewery get involved with the fest?

"Yazoo has always been a partner of the Nashville Chili Festival. The partnership began because Yazoo participates in the Knoxville Brewers’ Jam, which is the other fun event that Community Shares offers to the community as a way to support our mission.”

Why do you think chili pairs with beer so well?

“When the weather is cold, there is nothing better than spicy chili and cold beer to make the cold bearable.”

What can attendees expect at this year’s event?
"This year, chili festival attendees can expect to try over 30 different types of chili, try their favorite Yazoo beer and listen to some excellent live music. The chili participants are in the actual brewery part of Yazoo, so you get the chance to see where Yazoo beer is made.”

What’s new for 2016?

“This year we are changing up the categories of winners and separating the professionals from the home chef. This will give us more winners and a better sense of the best chili in Nashville.”

What’s one thing about the event that attendees may not know?

“The Nashville Chili Festival is a great way to support the work that Community Shares does in the community. Community Shares funds 37 non-profits that are working on making our city better through cleaning up our environment, giving a voice to the voiceless and providing opportunities for people to get involved in our community.”

Can participants use any ingredients for their chili recipes?

“People are free to use any ingredients that would like in their chili. We do not get involved in the battle between beans vs. no beans in chili. We like all chili. The most interesting chili is the vegetarian chili. They taste amazing and the lack of meat is not noticeable.”

Do you have many submissions by participants who cook with beer?

“This year, we have a few submissions that have beer in them.”

Do you know what beers Yazoo will be providing at the festival?

“Yazoo will open the taps and it will be a surprise as to which beers you can expect.”

Will there be any five-alarm chili available for the spicy-food fans?

“Yes. The five-alarm chili will be out in force this year.”

What are the rules for the pepper-eating contest?
“You have to sign a waiver and eat the most chili peppers in one minute. It is always fun to watch people eat hot peppers.”

Can you tell me a little about Community Shares?
“Community Shares raises money for our 37 non-profit member groups in workplace giving campaigns. Our member groups are focused on making broad based social change happen in Nashville. We work to help animals, children and homeless have better lives. Please visit www.communitysharestn.org for more information.”

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

“We will have live music from Aly Sutton Music and The J.C. Andersen Band, beer and a chance to see inside the Yazoo Brewing Company. Thanks to our sponsors Pepper Palace Nashville, State Farm Agent Candace Carpenter, Proof Branding, Barley to Rise Catering, Yazoo Brewing Company and Joshua Minton with Liberty Mutual Insurance.”

For More Information, visit the Nashville Chili Festival Website