Brewse Cruise: Maybe it was Memphis
Memphis Beer Week, Memphis, TN
Last week, I took a road trip down to Memphis with my girlfriend and our pup, who are relocating down south for work. And... the trip *happened* to coincide with the second annual Memphis Beer Week! What are the odds??
We all know that Memphis is a charming southern city on the banks of the might Mississipp. The music, the culture, the cuisine -- it's all world famous. But did you know they're also host to a budding craft beer scene? True story.
According to Memphis Made Brewing Company co-owner Andy Ashby, three craft outlets have opened in just the last year. Despite a relatively slow start, the local beer community is beginning to thrive in the sleepy Delta town. A ton of businesses are getting in on the craft craze, stocking bottles and kegs of hometown brew, adding lines for grocery store growler fills and hosting tap takeovers, meet the brewer events and beer dinners year round. "Memphis has been a little slow on the trend," Andy explained. "Trends tend to start on the coasts and move in, and we're in the middle of the country. But people really have a taste for it now." 'Bout time.
Here's my quick list of where to go and what to drink, if you happen to find yourself in this tasty little corner of the US. Cheers, y'all!
What to Drink:
- High Cotton Brewing
Just about everything I tried from this little microbrewery was well made and very creative. Highlights include the Belgian IPA and the Biere de Garde, which makes good use of its refreshingly fruity funkiness.
- Wiseacre Brewery
These guys output some great canned options, including a hoppy, bright IPA and a lighter, biscuity Pils that top my list. Their tap room, the first in Memphis, is sunny and inviting. Bring your pup and kick back for the afternoon with a cold one in hand.
- Ghost River Brewing
The O.G. of the Memphis brewing bunch, this pioneering craft outlet opened way back in 2003 and has been churning out brew ever since. They specialize in European styles and are known for their award-winning Riverbank Red, a traditional Irish-style red ale, and their refreshing, German-hopped Golden Ale.
- Memphis Made Brewing
N.K.O.T.B. Memphis Made Brewing Co. gets the award for friendliest little brewery under the Memphis sun. The guys can be spotted making deliveries around town, stopping in to say hello and grab a sip at the Growler or another local fave. The Bent Note IPA is nicely balanced and the richly spiced farmhouse ale, the Junt, is good on a hot day. Their newest brew, the Southern Julep, is a Belgian-style brown ale brewed with fresh mint and aged with American oak. Grab your hat and get ready for the Derby, folks!
- Yazoo Brewing Company
Ok, so these guys are technically based in Nashville, but they were all over Memphis Beer Week just the same. And thank goodness, because they are so, so, so damn good. Check them out, for serious. The Hop Project line of IPAs are of particular interest... because they taste amazing.
Where to Drink:
- The Growler
A brand new bottleshop and taproom in an adorable little neighborhood called Midtown. Flights, pints, growler fills and soon-to-be sandwich bar run by a couple of passionate beer nerds -- my kind of place.
- Central BBQ
As a write this, my mouth is watering. Come for the BBQ nachos and ribs, stay for the well curated selection of thirst-quenching local brews, all served with a smile.
- Tamp & Tap
I totally fell in love with this downtown cafe. For a New Yorker with a mean coffee addiction, locating good coffee in a new town is top priority, and this place has excellent drip, espresso and cold brewed iced coffee. And what else? A fantastic supply of local craft brews with enough bottles and taps to keep you kickin' for hours.
- The Green Beetle
This tavern, which dates back to the early 20th century, is a classic dive bar in the best sense of the term. Warmly lit, with doors flung open to the street and Memphis Grizzlies basketball pumping through the speakers, this joint has a surprising number of craft-devoted taps. A great place to catch a game or grab a bit of southern fried goodness.
- Local Gastropub
Ok, so this place is a little cheesy and a little chain-y, which isn't my normal bag. BUT, in my defense, the food is awesome and they offer a Tennessee-brewed flight special for cheap. Worth a try if you're overcome by a powerful thirst while visiting the touristy part of town.