When you think of Nashville, you immediately think of music, bachelorette parties, and hot chicken, but it’s also known for something else that you might not be aware of, craft beer. As supporters of local businesses, especially those connected to travel and tourism (we saw bachelorette parties stream through some of Nashville’s most popular breweries) we often check out the local craft beer scene when we travel. It’s a great way to meet locals, take a break from walking around, and support local businesses. Nashville, with over 15 craft breweries to choose from has a range of options spread throughout the city, so it’s important to know what your options are. Here are some of our favorites that we’ve checked out over two visits.
Smith & Lentz Brewing Company
In 2014, two men, Smith and Lentz, with a passion for beer launched one of our favorite breweries in the U.S. (see our craft brewery blog post). Not only do they brew amazing beer, but they are founded on the recognition that craft breweries play an instrumental role in creating and sustaining community and contributing to the growth of dynamic cities. No wonder Backpacking with the Bonds likes them so much.
The tasting room is big and open with an industrial aesthetic. During our first visit in 2016 they had 9 beers on offer, and during our second visit two years later they had over 14 options!! I started with the Saison, which was crisp and refreshing, and then moved on to the El Quarto, described as tropical, rounding off with the Belgian Golden-also a good beer. With the great selection, ping-pong tables, and a massive selection of board games, Smith and Lentz is a place you can spend a few hours.
We couldn’t resist a return trip and checked in on Smith & Lentz during our second visit to Nashville in 2018 and were pleased to find the beers still delicious and the brewery packed!
Czann’s Brewing Company
Czann’s is a small brewery located downtown, within walking distance from some of Nashville’s main tourist attractions. Their website says they have a “passion for well-crafted beer” and you can tell. The five beers they had on tap when we visited in 2016 (Belgian Wit, Dunkelweizen, Pale Ale, Blonde, and IPA) were brewed to perfection and the server was knowledgeable about the beer and the local craft beer scene. Much to my surprise, my favorite was the Dunkelweizen, a dark wheat beer from Southern Germany. I’ve had Dunkelweizen before but not like this. It was light with only hints of banana and clove, making it the perfect beer after a walk in the hot summer sun of Nashville.
Yazoo Brewing Company
Yazoo Brewing Company (opened in 2003) is one of the most popular breweries in Nashville. You’ll see their beer at every bar and restaurant in the city, the most common being the Pale Ale, Dos Perros - Mexican style, and Hefeweizen. The brewery, now in its second location and in a popular neighborhood, the Gulch, is a favorite of among the brewery tours and bachelorette parties, or as during our visit in the middle of July on a Saturday. It made for a crowded brewery. While I would never suggest skipping Yazoo because of the crowds, it’s best you know it can get crowded and plan to visit early or during the week if possible. We stuck around for one drink, you can get flights of everything they offer.
Looking to make your own brewery tour in Nashville? You can easily walk from Yazoo in the Gulch to Jackalope Brewing Company (4-minute walk from Yazoo), Tennessee Brew Works (11-minute walk from Jackalope), and Czann’s Brewing Company (6-minute walk from Tennessee Brew Works).
Southern Grist Brewing Company
Relatively new to the craft beer scene in Nashville (est. 2016), Southern Grist is a microbrewery out in East Nashville is a must, especially for fans of sour beers like us. We learned about Southern Grist after talking with the bartender at The Pharmacy (see our guide to Nashville) about the sour beer scene in Nashville.
You’ll notice from the list of beers that the brewers at Southern Grist LOVE sours and being creative. I’m not afraid to say I’ve had a lot of craft beer and I’ve never heard of beers like the Fluffernutter - imperial stout with peanut butter and marshmallows or the Pineapple Raspberry Hill - sour ale with lactose, pineapple and raspberry purees, or the Barista Berry Hill - sour with mango, blueberry, and Barista Parlour (famous coffee shop in Nashville) single origin Nano Challa coffee. As you can see this is not your typical Pale Ale, Stout, or IPA kinda place. Looking for brewers pushing the boundaries, especially when it comes to sours? Then your visit to Nashville must include Southern Grist. Oh, and they have a tasting room in downtown Nashville just in case you’re not able/willing to trek to East Nashville, though we definitely recommend the East Nashville location.
The Filling Station
Our favorite spot to drink craft beer in Nashville is not a brewery but a craft beer store that sells and serves an amazing selection of craft beer called The Filling Station. Their location in 12 South offers 24 craft beers on tap and the East Nashville store has 40. Of course, we visited both (both times we’ve been to Nashville). The 12 South location has a nice outdoor spot with a few tables where we sat while waiting for the line at Edley’s to dwindle (around the corner). True to form, we stuck with the local brewers (noted by three stars). I had The Rose from Black Abbey and Albert had the May Day Velvet Hustle.
The East Nashville location doesn’t have outdoor space but has plenty of tables inside with a range of board games and a host of different beers. The biggest appeal behind The Filling Station is the chance to taste on draft the widest possible range of local craft beer without having to visit every brewery. It’s well worth the visit.
This is by no means a complete list, but instead a living list of our favorite breweries from our two trips to Nashville. As we return to Nashville and the craft beer scene there changes we’ll continue to update this post.
If you have some favorite places to drink craft beer in Nashville, leave a message below.
All Photography by Albert Bond