After spending time in Nashville, we made our way down to Memphis in order to visit with the owners of Wiseacre, brothers Kellan and Davin Bartosch. They were not open to the public that day, so we spent some time chatting with them about their brewery and their different beers. Following that, Davin walked us around the facility and told us all about his previous experiences with brewing (including stints at the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago, IL & Doemen’s Academy in Munich, Germany) as well as the current methods he uses at Wiseacre. The brewery has amazing artwork on the walls and keeps things fun by hosting activities like karaoke, foosball, and an Oktoberfest. Their beer can only be found in Memphis currently, so if you want to pick up some cans, bottles, or growlers, you’ll need to visit the area to do so (and we recommend you do). Ananda IPA and Tiny Bomb American Pilsner are the two staples that can be found year-round, but they offer a ton of other specialty beers throughout the year that you won’t want to miss out on!
After leaving Jackalope Brewing Company in Nashville, TN, we drove a whole quarter of a mile down the road to meet with the people of Yazoo. Neil McCormick, who is their Sales and Marketing Manager, spent a significant amount of time with us showing off the brewery and going into detail about what makes Yazoo unique. Afterwards, he even acted as our tour guide of the city which made our time there about 10-fold better than most other places we have been. Below we go into detail about all of the events they hold (like Embrace the Funk and an adult-sized big wheel competition), the past, present, and future state of their business, beers, and much more. We cannot thank everyone at Yazoo enough for such a great time and hope to come back soon!
After visiting Against the Grain in Louisville, KY, we made the short drive over to Apocalypse Brew Works. Co-founders Bill Krauth, Leah Dienes, and Paul Grignon opened up the taproom (which they call “The Fallout Shelter”) on May 11, 2012 with the 3 1/2 barrel system they are using today. We spoke to Leah, the head-brewer, while sampling their brews and learned all of the information found below – including the fact that Leah is an active BJCP judge. Between the three co-founders, there is over 40 years of homebrewing experience which helped them open the taproom with 10 beers on tap and maintain that number since. Also, if you happen to be in the area when the world gets taken over by zombies, keep in mind that the brewery makes for a nice Apocalypse bunker since they can lock the razor wire laden gates to keep the zombies out; hence their motto “Drink Beer Til the End.”
Our stay in Lexington, KY led us over to Country Boy Brewing on a Sunday afternoon. This brewery has a rugged feel both inside and out on their back patio and completes the mood with country music playing in the background. There are 24 tap handles at the bar: 11 of which were in-house Country Boy brews that ran the spectrum from a blonde to a gose to a barrel-aged stout during our visit, while the other 13 were guest tap handles from various breweries in the area as well as across the country. These guys have made themselves stand out by barrel aging beers right from the start, doing collaborations with multiple other breweries, and even growing their own peppers to add to their beers. The bartender, Zac, will help direct you in the right direction for your tastes and mood, so don’t miss out on a trip to their taproom!
We finished out our trek through the state of Louisiana on Monday, 1/20/14, with a visit to NOLA (New Orleans Lager & Ale), located in the Irish Channel right next to the Mississippi River. Kenzie Oescher, their VP of marketing and sales, told us that although ‘lager’ is in the name they don’t actually brew any lagers. However, she went on to tell us that they are working on some recipes for a pale lager right now.
On Saturday, 1/18/14, we headed to a New Orleans neighborhood po-boy shop to fill our stomachs before making the trek 30 miles north across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway to Abita Brewing Company for their 2pm Saturday tour. An Abita tour is a truly inimitable experience – a free one hour tour where you pour your own beers at their 15 tap bar (14 beers and 1 for their root beer). Despite ample instruction from the taproom employees, we witnessed many patrons comically demonstrate terrible pouring technique. After some time in the spacious taproom sampling beers and listening to a couple informative videos, the tour group is led into the cavernous brewing facility for a quick rundown on the brewing process and Abita’s productive capacity. Needless to say, the tours are well attended and Kathy Tujague, employee of 23 years and Director of the Visitor Center, shared that they had just over 25,500 people come through the doors in 2013.
On the morning of 1/14/14 we packed up our gear and headed east from San Antonio to Conroe, TX which is about 40 miles north of Houston. There we enjoyed an afternoon touring the facilities of Southern Star Brewing Company and speaking with head brewer Sam Wright. We began in the spacious new taproom which is just across the loading docks from the 10,000 square foot brewing space. The taproom is separated from additional storage space in the warehouse by a massive wall of empty cans waiting for their run through the canning line.