NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Nashville is becoming a better place for beer drinkers, according to a new study that says Music City is cracking the top list for micro-breweries.
News 2 sat down with one local brewery to find out why more and more breweries are calling Nashville home.
Our city has all the makings of a beer town–tourism, southern hospitality and live music… yet in the past, it still hasn’t been a go-to place for breweries.
“I was very surprised,” says Bailey Spaulding, the CEO of Jackalope Brewery. “Nashville, or Tennessee in general, has always been a little behind the eight-ball in beer.”
So when Spaulding wanted to start a craft brewery, Nashville wasn’t the obvious choice.
“Nashville kind of had everything you need or what you look for in a craft beer town; we just didn’t have craft beer yet,” she said.
But that’s exactly why Spaulding decided to take the plunge.
“There wasn’t a lot of craft beer here at that point in time, seems like something I can help with,” she told News 2.
Spaulding started making her own beer seven years ago while she was in school at Vanderbilt University, and then she opened up Jackalope Brewery on Eighth Avenue, following in the path of long-time breweries Yazoo and Blackstone.
Things weren’t easy, though. Tennessee has some of the highest-taxed beer in the country.
Until January of 2017, strict regulations made it especially tough on brewers.
“A year ago, the ABV regulations changed,” said Spaulding. “So until January 2017, craft breweries could only brew up to 6.2 percent alcohol with a beer license, which is extremely low, one of the lowest in the country.”
Now beer can contain up to 10.1 percent alcohol, which is why Spaulding says we will start seeing more and more breweries popping up.
“It was like, there would be years and years go by between breweries opening, and now since we’ve opened there have been 20 more breweries in Tennessee,” she explained.
Now, there are 22 micro-breweries in Nashville, landing it the 23rd spot in the best places for breweries, according to a study by financial website Smart Asset–but there’s still plenty of room to grow.
As for Jackalope Brewery, that’s exactly what they’re doing: growing. They plan to open a second location this year in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood.
Last year, they posted a 19 percent growth rate in distribution alone. Their tap room saw 48 percent growth.
“We’ve basically grown a thousand barrels every year we’ve been open. Right now it’s just trying to keep up and make all the beer that we need to,” said Spaulding.
As long as people continue to flock to Nashville, there’s no doubt the beer at Jackalope will continue to flow.
Asheville, North Carolina, not surprisingly, came in as the top place for breweries, followed by Portland, Maine; Duluth, Minnesota; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Austin, Texas. Click here to see the full study.
The National Craft Brewers Conference will take place in Nashville, another sign of growth in the beer community in Music City.