Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mill Creek Brewing Company Debuts Inaugural Beer

Nolensville, Tennessee's Mill Creek Brewing Company released their very first beer to the public this week following two years of planning and fundraising.  Last November the brewery emerged with an ambitious Kickstarter campaign and we sat down with Co-Founder Chris Going to discuss the future of the brewery and to sample three of their beers.  Of the beers that we tried, one of them is the first beer available publicly: Lil Darlin.  The beer is a citrus-infused wheat beer that is sure to be a hit with fans of Bell's Oberon, Blue Moon, etc.

Martin’s BBQ in Nolensville hosted a kickoff event on July 16 attended by co-founders Chris Going and Michael Krewson who's brewery grew out of their home brewing experience. “We want to make beer that people will want to keep coming back for,” said Going.  Currently, Mill Creek is contracting with another local brewery to brew Lil Darlin, though they plan to begin production at their own facility in Nolensville beginning in October.  The facility will feature a taproom and offer growler fills and samples.

In the meantime, keep your eyes out for Mill Creek Brewing Company's Lil Darlin at a bar near you! For more information, visit Mill Creek Brewing Company's Facebook page.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Previewing Mafiaoza’s Music City Brewer’s Festival

By Matt Kelsey

Attention Nashville craft beer aficionados: One of the biggest beer festivals of the country will soon return to the Music City!

The 14th Annual Mafiaoza’s Music City Brewer’s Festival returns to Walk of Fame Park in Nashville on July 25th, so there’s plenty of time to prepare. This outdoor festival is so big, it’s divided into two different times: Session A lasts from 12 noon – 4 PM and Session B takes place from 6 – 10 PM. There will be live music, food available for purchase from local restaurants and caterers, and craft beer featured from many local, regional, national and international breweries creating a fun and lively party atmosphere for everyone to enjoy.

Looking ahead, Regional Event Director Candace Price discusses the upcoming event.

What is Mafiaoza’s Music City Brewer’s Festival best known for?
This is the original beer festival in Nashville, the oldest, the biggest and many say the best.

What do you think is the secret for its longevity?
This is the oldest beer festival in Nashville and one of the oldest in TN. Our event started as an chance for brewers to have their product sampled to consumers as a marketing opportunity. This is and always has been an event for brewers to launch their products and promote to consumers. They can reach over 7,000 consumers with a collection of novice craft beer drinkers trying some of these brews for the first time to connoisseurs that take pride in knowing everything about the beer-making process and everything about every type of beer available.

What’s new for the event in 2015?
We have quite a few new beers this year, including Ole Shed, High Cotton, Crazy Mountain, Orange Blossom Brewing, Southern Prohibition, Tallgrass, Smutty Nose, Tin Man, Chattanooga Brewing Co., Blackhorse, Founder’s, Dogfish Head, Wiseacre, Straight to Ale and Carson’s Brewery.

Why is the festival divided into two sessions?
Over the years, we outgrew the space at Walk of Fame Park with roughly 5,000 in attendance, but because we have always partnered with the Hilton and provided rooms for our brewers there, we decided to stay at the park, but to grow the event, we would need to expand to two sessions.

Are there any differences between the festival’s two sessions?
Generally speaking, the day session is a little more laid back and less crowded. The evening session is a little more of a party atmosphere. Same beers available at both sessions, though.

How many breweries will be participating at the event?
We have 54 this year.

There are quite a few breweries based outside of TN attending - How were they chosen?
We first reach out to local TN breweries and then we go through our distributor partners that know new brands that they would like to promote.

Can participants attend both sessions?
Yes, but we encourage them to pace themselves. It can be a long day, if you attend both.

Do you know what type of food restaurants will be offering at the fest?
Mafiaoza’s will have a variety of pizzas. We also have hot dogs, burgers, chicken, Mrs. Grissoms salads and more.

What’s the one can’t-miss thing attendees must see or do at this event?
The venue is absolutely beautiful. The beer selection is amazing. The people watching is great, too. Check out what Lagunitas has going on — it’s always entertaining!

Are general admission tickets still available?
Yes. Tickets are still available for both sessions. Prices go up $10 day of event, so get them early!

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s event?
Watching everyone have a great time!

Are there any little-known facts that attendees should know about the festival before arriving?
Uber will have a special code, so you can ride to and from the event and be safe!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

For more information visit Mafiaoza’s Music City Brewer’s Festival Website

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

BEER SPOTLIGHT: Highland Lost Cove American Pale Ale

Now that Summer has officially arrived, it's time to get lost... courtesy of Highland Brewing Company.

With the recent Summer seasonal, Lost Cove American Pale Ale, Highland has released a beer that's inspired by the spirit of Appalachia's past. The light, hop-forward craft beer with hints of citrus beckons its namesake legendary ghost town on the Nolichucky River. Back in the day, independent families lived there, hidden far from civilization. Today, the small town by the forest is abandoned, but lives on through Highland Brewing Company.

Head Brewer Hollie Stephenson said, "Lost Cove is a thirst quenching, fun, light, sessionable beer with grassy German hops and citrusy American hops. This beer is interesting, its backbone is pilsner malt from the American Midwest, and we fermented it with our house ale yeast, creating a unique spin on an American pale. I’m looking forward to drinking one in the Meadow!”

Through a partnership with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC), Highland raises awareness of their conservation efforts, raises money with each seasonal release party, and takes part in hikes and habitat restoration efforts. 

For more about Highland Brewing visit highlandbrewing.com

For more about SAHC visit Appalachian.org

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Previewing the Cool Springs Brewery Pro-Am Homebrew Competition

By Matt Kelsey

The registration deadline for the Cool Springs Brewery Pro-Am Homebrew Competition has been extended. That means all homebrewers who are interested in participating need to get their entries into the brewery very soon!

The third annual Pro-Am will take place at the Franklin brewery, but the deadline for entering the competition is less than a week away. August 1 is the online registration deadline, and Saturday, July 11th is the deadline to get all beers into the brewery for competition. The final round of judging will take place on July 18th and is open to the public. There will be some incredible prizes awarded to the top four winners, including the top winner gaining entry and a trip to the Great American Beer Festival later this year, as well as having the winning beer brewed and served at CSB, as well as other great prizes.

I spoke with Cool Springs Brewery Brewmaster Derrick Morse to get all the event’s details:

Please tell me a little about the background of the Pro-Am competition.
The Pro-Am started because without me being a homebrewer, there would be no possibility of me being a professional brewer. I was a homebrewer for four years before I became a professional brewer. I remember a lot of the help I received from going to the meetings of homebrew clubs and talking to people about my homebrew. I remember there were several pro-am competitions out in Colorado that I was so afraid to enter my beer into them, so I never did. When I moved here, I realized that one of the ways I could give back to the homebrew community was to run my own pro-am. I wanted to give back to the community that gave so much to me.

The Pro-Am gives us an ability to help foster homebrewing in the community, help increase homebrew awareness in our own facility here at Cool Springs Brewery and I really wanted to turn it into a situation where a lot of CSB people get interested in homebrewing. It’s also a really cool opportunity for a homebrewer to be able to enter their beer into the Great American Beer Fest and moreover, they win a Great American Beer Fest trip. We pay for their trip, hotel and airfare.

This is the third year for the competition. How has it grown over the years?
The first year, we had about 125 entrants. Last year, we had about 200. We’re expecting right around 200 this year, as well. We don’t give any guidelines because we want people to put their best foot forward. There’s some pro-ams that will say, ‘No sour beers,’ or other beers they don’t want to brew. We’ll do anything. This year, we’re going to see a lot more interesting beers. I think the first year, out of the 125 entries, 50 of them were IPAs. Homebrewers are starting to realize that we want something a little bit more eclectic. I’m expecting to see fewer IPAs and a lot more creativity.

Can you tell me about the deadline change for participants?
We had some technical difficulties with our Website, so our new deadline is to have beer at our location by July 11th. We extended that time period. Also, to the contest winner, they will get to brew their beer on our system, entered into the GABF, we pay for them to go to the GABF, hotel, airfare and entry, but on top of that, Rebel Brewer has also kicked in a bunch of swag for the second, third and fourth place winners, as well.

Please explain the competition between different beer categories.
In effect, we knew our Pro-Am was going to be a winner take all. Instead of judging all the IPAs against all the IPAs, we decided to essentially do a tournament bracket, like with basketball. You could have the No. 1 beer competing against the No. 64 beer and you never know which one was going to particularly win.

We’ve run into situations where one of the best brewers was running up against one of his own beers. He entered five of his own beers and three of those five made it into the Top 16 beers. By no fault of his own, or ours, he knocked himself out of the competition. Last year, we had a winner knock several people out with her American Brown Ale. It ran up against Bourbon Barrel-Aged beers and sour beers. It just happened to be the best-executed and most-creative recipe and that’s what we’re looking for. We’re not looking for something that’s super weird, we’re looking for the best recipe and the best-executed version of it. That person is going to win. We may end up with something that’s super weird. We may end up with a regular IPA. We may end up with an American Brown Ale, again. You never know.

Was the tournament bracket something you came up with or was that something you saw other competitions use?
I’ve never seen another competition do it. Honestly, I just thought about it one day and thought that would be a lot of fun. It’s also a cool opportunity for people to see judges work. One of the things that always bothered me as a homebrewer was I would enter my beer into competitions and I would be notified via email that I won or didn’t win and I wasn’t able to watch people drink my beer. I would get the tasting notes back and I would make adjustments, but I was never able to confront or talk to the judges.

This is an opportunity for people to actually visually see how competitions are run. All of the judges that we have for the top 64 are professional brewers. So, it’s not just a BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) judge, but a professional brewer that’s judging your beer. Later on, you can go up to them and ask, ‘What did you like about my beer?’ and that would give you some personal feedback. I always thought that was a cool opportunity for people to be able to watch their beer go head to head against another beer. I felt if I was a homebrewer, that would be really fun and exciting to see.

Do you have any tips for homebrewers?
My number one tip that I’ve always hammered into homebrewers is: Fermentation temperature control. I see a lot of brewers who spend thousands and thousands of dollars on all of these elaborate brew systems. They get custom mills and all kinds of different things, but they don’t pay attention to fermentation temperature and they don’t pay attention to yeast health. They’ll buy a package of yeast and just throw it in there, not knowing oxygenation levels, yeast health, not understanding fermentation temperature… those are major, major points that I have really paid attention to in our brewery. If I’m a homebrewer looking towards the craft-beer industry, that’s what I’m looking at. I would rather spend $200 to $300 on a microscope and a hemocytometer to do cell counts and look at the dissolved oxygen in my wort, than to pay for a really nice kettle. I could buy a regular kettle and put it on my stove top and pay more attention to my yeast health and fermentation temperature and have better beer than if I pay $1,000 for an awesome kettle with a huge burner attached to it and not know what’s going on with what’s fermenting in. I would highly suggest that any kind of homebrewer to spend more focus on yeast health than learning about different grains and things along those lines. Learn the fundamentals first and then explore into weird beers.

Is the final round of 64 open to the public?
Yes. We usually pack the place at 11:00 in the morning. It starts at 11 and we usually go until 1 or 1:30 pm.

For more information about Cool Spring Brewery, visit their website here.
Register for the Cool Springs Brewery Pro-Am Competition here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Previewing the Nashville Predators Craft Beer Festival

By Matt Kelsey

Get out of the summer heat and check out the coolest beer festival in town!

The Third Annual Nashville Predators Craft Beer Festival returns to Bridgestone Arena on Saturday, June 27th from 1 – 5 PM.  Enjoy a wide selection of craft beer, food, games, and entertainment while supporting a good cause.  Be sure to get your tickets before they’re sold out!

Special thanks to Communications Coordinator Alexis Witman for setting up an interview with Director of Community Relations Rebecca King, who discusses the upcoming event:

What’s the general reaction to last year’s craft-beer festival?It was an event that we loved putting on. It reaches a different demographic from a lot of our other events. It’s young, it’s business professional, it’s more couples and individuals than corporate. It allows us to utilize our building in the summer, when there is no hockey or major events and we can showcase a lot of these smaller breweries at our events. My favorite part is that we vote for our favorite brewery and then that brewery will get highlighted at a few games during November. So, they can get their beer poured at one of our portables, where normally, one of these smaller breweries wouldn’t have the marketing budget to have it at the arena. We get to be the helping hand to grow their product.

How did it go for last year’s winner, Black Abbey?
They were fantastic. One night, they had probably 30 people come out. They shut down the brewery and made a big night of it. They had a big photo op and we presented them with a trophy. They had a staff person with them at the portable, where they educated people about them throughout the pregame and the game. It’s not just, ‘Here’s the beer,’ but they educated people about their beer. They were excited and really embraced the opportunity to be a part of it. It was a good partnership.

Have the rules changed for this year’s competition for best brewery?
The rules have not changed. I think they’re pretty much the same, where everyone who walks through the doors will receive one vote. The one difference for the event is that it will be 360 degrees around the arena on the concourse. Last year, it was just from the main entrance, all the way to the South Doors. This year, it’ll open up and have more space. People can roam, a little easier, throughout the concourse. We’ll have bands on two sides of the arena, so folks can listen to music, try beer and not be compacted in a smaller area.

Will the event be taking up the entire arena?
The whole arena. People will be able to loop around. We moved the VIP tasting down to the Lexus Lounge, which wasn’t a space that existed at this time, last year. It’s a high-end, premium seating area for hockey games and events. It’ll be a very nice space for VIP tastings and food.

Will there be the same number of breweries represented as last year or more?
There’s been a couple of new breweries that have popped up, so hopefully, they will come on board. As time progresses, we’re going to start updating our website (nashvillepredators.com/beer) with the participating breweries. That’s still a work in progress, but our goal is to have more than 60 breweries participate.

What else can you tell me is new for 2015?
We’re working on printing an event map, so when guests arrive, it’ll be easier to find the breweries and be easier for people to identify their favorite breweries, so they can remember where they were and what they tried.

Proceeds from this event fund the Predators Foundation. What were some of the charities it benefited last year?
A few weeks ago we distributed our largest one-time grant allocation of more than $450,000. We have five or six signature events, like the Beer Festival, GnashVegas in February and more and all of the money raised at those events go into our grant program. We gave money to 88 different nonprofit organizations in the community this year and we had a big-check presentation in the atrium and all of the charities showed up to receive their checks.

We also fund KaBOOM playgrounds, every year, with Nashville inner-city ministries. In October, all of our staff goes out at 7 a.m. to a blank slate and by 2 p.m. we’re having a ribbon-cutting ceremony with a fully formed playground. We also have the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Dollar General. We’re committed to raising $200,000 a year to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt for pediatric cancer research.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit the Predators Craft Beer Festival website here.

Bell's Brewery Announces Plans to Expand Distribution to Tennessee

Michigan-based Bell's Brewery has announced today via their website that they have begun searching for a distributor to help bring Bell's beer to Tennessee.  "We are at the very beginning of this process and we don’t have a lot to share right now.  We are excited to start this process and we want to make sure we perform our due diligence in selecting the right distributor partner,” said Laura Bell, Vice President of Bell’s Brewery.  “Our selection process may take some time, so we hope folks will be patient with us. We want to ensure that we have a great distributor partner to launch our brand and that they are equipped to maintain our standards of quality over the long-term,” Bell said.

The search for a Lead Sales Representative for Tennessee has also begun. Application details can be found here.

Stay tuned for more details!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Previewing Taste of Music City

By Matt Kelsey

Nashville’s largest food and drink festival celebrates their thirteenth anniversary this weekend with a celebration of food, drink, and music.

On Saturday, June 20th, from 5 - 9 PM Taste of Music City will be set up in Public Square Park where attendees are invited for unlimited samples of gourmet food, artisan drinks - from locally brewed craft beer, to moonshine, mixed drinks and wines from around the world -  as well as multiple live bands performing throughout the evening.

Previewing Taste of Music City, Regional Event Director Candace Price gives the inside scoop for the festival:

How would you describe Taste of Music City to someone who hasn’t attended before?An amazing collection of food and beverages to sample in a beautiful setting at Public Square Park.

What’s new for the event in 2015?
So much is new! New restaurants, new beverages to try… We have brands that use this event to launch their products into the market and let consumers know about things that aren’t even here yet. Example, Another Broken Egg, a new breakfast, brunch, lunch restaurant opening in July on Commerce Street will be there letting people know that they are coming soon. Pickers Vodka, Tennessee’s First Craft Vodka is new this year and from the local distillery that makes Whisper Creek and Pennington’s Strawberry Rye. All-new music this year with jazz, pop and a DJ for the first time, mixing some classic country tunes with hip hop. A wide variety of new things this year!

Taste of Music City features food, drinks, and music - where would you recommend attendees start?
I would start at whichever entrance they come in and go left or right and hit it all. Tip – there is a map and complete vendor line up in the middle of the event program and it lists all the menu items for each vendor, so they can see if there is really something that calls out to them before they get started.

There will be an incredible selection of drinks the event - how were so many great brands chosen?
Many of the brands come to us and we like to try to have a variety of craft beer, wine and spirits. In the spirits category, we have a wide variety of different spirits too, so depending on what you prefer, there should be something for everyone!

What are you looking forward to the most at this year’s event?
Seeing what all the chefs in the middle do this year. Springer Mountain Farms has selected some of the best chefs in the area to cook onsite again this year and it’s fun to watch them and taste what they made right in front of you.

Proceeds of this festival benefit The DISTRICT. Can you tell me a little about that organization and how your event wound up sponsoring it?
The DISTRICT is an organization of merchants, business owners and residents that are focused on making sure we have a healthy and vibrant downtown area. Specifically Broadway, Second Avenue and Printers Alley and looking at the progress, upgrades and care that they take to make Nashville Downtown the inviting place that people come from all over the world to see, they are an important group. I’m certain that their influence is part of what has made Nashville the ‘It City.'

Are there any little-known facts that attendees should know about the festival before arriving?
There is parking directly under the park and they can enter at James Robertson or Gay Street and take the elevator from the Observation Tower right up to the entrance. Couldn’t be any easier.

Are tickets still available?
Yes, but ticket prices go up $10 at midnight on Friday, so get them early!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Just a thank you to all of the volunteers, restaurants, beverage partners and sponsors that put so much hard work into this event. Specifically US Foods, Springer Mountain Farms and NISSAN.

For more information about Taste of Music City, visit their website here.