Tennessee Brew Works Shines On in Music City
All photos by Cynthia Bard. Perched on a hill, the three-tiered Tennessee Brew Works, just south of downtown Nashville, is something to behold. It’s like someone dropped a ski lodge into a derelict industrial neighborhood.
Inside, it’s a cozy layer of bars with an open view of the brewhouse both upstairs and down, with taps on both levels, plenty of seating and space for live music. Wood-meets-metal throughout, it has an industrial feel with a country flair.
The beer names follow suit with the proximity to Music City, with “headliner” beers such as Basil Ryeman (no doubt a nod to the famous Ryman Auditorium) and seasonal brews like I Walk the Lime.
On the day I visited with my girlfriend Cynthia, we were blessed with gorgeous spring weather, meaning the many levels of outdoor seating were our destination. We sat among other folks who sipped beers, made their way through samplers and enjoyed lunch.
I tried samples of a few of the beers, including the Basil Ryeman, which was a farmhouse ale made with rye malts and Thai basil. To say it had a unique flavor is to understate it, although I was surprised that the basil tones were as restrained as they were. A solid, drinkable and interesting beer, with a buttery finish.
I also tried the Southern Wit, a Belgian white ale that was a classic example of its breed (not a Belgian white fan) and the Extra Easy, with its toasty aroma and caramel tones. Interestingly, the Extra Easy, which is an English-syle Extra Special Bitter ale, was malt-dominated to the point that it could pass as a red ale. Quite nice.
My favorite of the day was probably the Cutaway IPA, a nicely balanced ale made with Warrior, Summit, Apollo, Calypso & TBW Hop #3 hops as well as rye as one of the three grains. Solid and hoppy, the rye also gave it a bit of spice down the stretch. It was nice enough that I had a pint after my sampler was gone. (Glad I wasn’t driving.)
After we sat on the deck for a bit, we decided to take a look around, and ended up in an upstairs area that was much like a German beer hall, with long tables and a bar. There were also board games lying around, and it was clear it was a space that held a lot of events. Through a glass door, there was access to a deck overlooking the brewing system.
If we had on regret about our visit to Tennessee Brew Works it was that we’d already had lunch before we arrived. The menu not only enticed, but the food we saw and smelled people enjoying around us made us envious – in short, the Five-Beer Burgers at TBW looked and smelled incredible. Made with short rib meat, the burgers are topped with five sauces made with house beers.
As a big lover of seafood, I was excited to find Nashville-Style Hot Froglegs on the menu – a cross between a seafood treat and a Nashville chicken classic. If only I’d had room. (And kudos to Chef Jay Mitchell. When the menu alone makes you want to come back, without even having a taste, you’ve done something right.)
All of which is to say, we’ll certainly be back. And this time we’ll arrive hungry. Very hungry.