Thursday, June 25, 2015

Beer line? What we are doing about beer lines at Nashville's Hot Chicken Festival this year...

We hate long beer lines as much as anyone else.  Last year, the surging popularity of Nashville's Hot Chicken Festival caught everyone involved by surprise.  Attendance at the festival had been growing at a steady rate every year, and the Hot Chicken Planning Committee had anticipated a crowd of about 5,000 people.

To accommodate that many folks, we planned to split the beer pouring locations into two spots, on opposite ends of the festival grounds.  And for the first year, the festival's beer permit covered the entire grounds, not just the Beer Tent.  So people would be able to move around with their "Free Range Beer".

The day dawned, with perfect weather for the festival.  After less than an hour in, the crowd had grown larger than we'd ever seen at the Hot Chicken Fest.  Metro Police later estimated the crowd to be around 15,000 people.  We opened all the taps at both of our beer stations and didn't close them for the rest of the day, filling one cup after another after another.  But it wasn't fast enough, and the beer lines grew longer and longer.

This year, we are making some changes that we think will greatly enhance the experience.  We've partnered with the organizers of Germantown's Octoberfest to use a new beer pouring technology that they successfully launched last year at their festival.  It's called "Bottoms Up" and for a beer geek/engineer like me, it's almost magic.  The cup has a hole in the bottom, covered with a magnetic disk.  The beer flows into the cup from the bottom, and the cup is filled in about four seconds.  It can empty a keg in record time, with minimal foam.  Check out this video:

We will have TWO separate locations again, each with a Bottoms Up 4-tap dispenser.  One person operating a Bottoms Up station can keep eight people busy just handing out the beers.  It's lightning fast, and after testing the units out at several different events, we are confident that the beer lines will be minimal this year.  We know the long beer lines were a hassle last year, and we want you to know that we listened to your comments, and have come up with a great plan for this year's Hot Chicken Festival.  It's grown to be a Nashville Fourth of July tradition, and we can't wait to see you again on the 4th!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


So we have been getting a lot of questions, via email, Twitter, and Facebook, asking, "What the heck is up with Summer this year?"

All I can say is, be patient.  Try to enjoy it.  Don't over-think it, just relax and drink it all in.  I know it's unusual, and it is not what you expect.

But here's the thing - it will get hot this year.  The rain, the cool weather - it won't last.  The blazing sun and 100 F heat are coming.  You can count on it.

Oh.  Y'all were asking about the BEER.  Yes.  Our Summer Ale does have an extra twist this year.

But first, a little bit about the style of beer.  Our Summer Ale is our take on a very old German style of wheat beer, traditionally brewed in the town of Goslar and then Leipzig.  The wheat beers there were brewed with the slightly salty water found in Goslar, with the addition of coriander.  The wild fermentations, in which lactic acid producing bacteria were also used, gave the beer a lemony tartness that balanced well with the saltiness of the water.

After the last Gose brewery closed in the 1960's, Gose was essentially extinct until after German reunification in 1989.  Breweries in Leipzig began brewing the style again, inspiring American brewers to try their hand as well.  I first had a Leipziger Gose at the Spuyten Duyvil pub in Brooklyn, NY, when I was interning as a brewer at the Brooklyn Brewery.  I had never had anything like it - an extremely tasty, refreshing wheat beer with tons of flavor packed into a 4% alcohol beer.

So last year, when we came out with our new Summer Ale, we brewed it along the style guidelines of the historic Gose beers.  It has about 50% wheat, and we add sea salt and coriander during the boil.  Last year, to try to develop the characteristic tartness of the style, we used about 20% acidulated malt in the mash.  Acidulated malt is produced in Germany by the addition of lactic acid during the malting process.  Adding a portion of acidulated malt to a grain bill for a beer will lower the pH of the mash, which is helpful under certain water conditions.  Anyway, the acid malt did help develop a slight tang to the beer, but we weren't completely satisfied.

So this year, we tried something different, a technique we had never tried before.  It's called kettle souring.  We intentionally soured a portion of the unfermented beer with several different strains of lactobacillus, the type of probiotic bacteria you'll typically find in Greek yogurt, for example.  After letting the "wort" sour for a few days, we brought it up to a boil to pasteurize it and prevent any more souring, and then fermented it as normal with our house ale yeast.  We then blended the sour portion of Summer Ale into batches brewed like last year, to create what we think is the perfect blend of lemony tartness and bracing sea salt.

So what have people been saying about this year's Summer Ale?  Here are some emails and tweets I have gotten (names withheld to respect their privacy (except one!)):

"Last year I discovered Yazoo Summer and both me and my wife fell in love with it.  So much that in the waning days of Summer we scoured every gas station and grocery in Wilson County in an attempt to tide us over as long as possible.  We were excited to see on Facebook that it was being bottled the other day.  I purchased some yesterday at Publix in Lebanon.  What I tasted was not what we had last year.  The description offered on Facebook suggests it is the same recipe we enjoyed last year, but the citrus in what I've had so far drowns everything else entirely.  Like a lemon has been squeezed into the bottle.  I do not get even a hint of sea salt in the bottles I've sampled, which was one of my favorite things about the beer.  Thinking it was perhaps an anomaly  I asked to sample some draft at the Mt Juliet Beer Company only to  have the same experience. We love Yazoo beer and it is a majority of what my wife and I consume, but we both agreed something is definitely off in the beer.  If the recipe has changed, I humbly request that you go back to what you did last year.  Because it was phenomenal."

"Hey guys, I drink Yazoo all the time, but for some reason my last 6 pack was undrinkable. I got the Summer Ale from the Inglewood Kroger (loved it last year), but it was very sour, not in a good way. The folks at Kroger are telling me they can't swap it out, that it's against the law. Any ideas how to make it right? Thanks for your time and your excellent work."

"Yazoo put out the most delicious seasonal beer for summer. If yall aren't drinking it, you're not living life to the fullest."

"today I bought a six pack of the summer seasonal and its sour. Now I enjoy a good sour beer but from the description I'm not thinking it's supposed to be a sour. Let me know."

"I have been drinking your yazoo pale ale, and hop project brews, and I do like them but,  I decided to try the summer brew last night , let me tell you it is not my cup of beer, I could barely get through one bottle now I am stuck with 5 bottles of beer I will not drink. will you buy these back from me?
Thanks for your time."

"Hey guys - I can't get enough of this summer seasonal, but can you settle a bet?  My friend believes it's a straight berliner weisse, but I detect salt so I'm thinking a cross between a berliner and a gose.  Who's right?  I would make this one of my regular year-round beers if it were available.  It's a well-conceived and executed brew.  Good job."

"After a morning of yard work, your Summer Ale is saving my life! Linus, it has replaced Spring Puppy!"

"Picked up 's summer seasonal expecting awesome summer ale. I was surprised it was a summer wheat ale. Pleasantly surprised. Yum!"

"I just had a fantastic tour of local brews at the XXXX in downtown Knoxville. My curiosity led me to take some Yazoo Summer Seasonal to try at home.  After opening the first bottle I was instantly repulsed. Frankly, the only way to describe the smell is similar to a port-a-potty or overflowing sewer. I don't know if I got a bad batch or if there was a huge mistake in the production (polluted water) but it was so bad I had to throw it away after a few sips and felt nauseous afterward.  I don't normally speak up about these things but I honestly believe that there was something terribly wrong and feel disgusted about the experience."

"Had Yazoo Summer last night. Amazing! Takes some huevos to put out a beer like that around here!"

"one of the best beers I have ever had. love it and love that yazoo is always trying new things."

"It's awesome this year and was last year as well. One of the best"

"Please , please keep the summer ale this way forever. It's perfect!"

"Hello. I want to start off by telling you I really enjoy your beer and always look forward to trying new Yazoo brews. I picked up a 6er of the Summer Seasonal and really had some issues with it. The smell seemed pleasant but my first sip proved to be difficult. There was an over powering taste of sourness that took over my mouth that made me think of vinegar. I hoped that maybe it was just the one bottle so I opened up another one to try and it gave me the same result. With that being said I will probably dump the remaining 4 and try something new. Now I understand this could just be me not liking a beer, but I wanted to give you the feedback just in case you are receiving other complaints."
"Yazoo Summer Wheat Ale is pretty awesome. There's a touch of lemon in there, I think"

"things I just learned about Yazoo summer: 1) everyone who likes it calls it a sour, except Yazoo; 2) it’s brewed with *salt*"

"this bottle of yazoo summer seasonal tastes exactly like vinegar and i'm not sure if it's cuz i just drank a porter and my tongue is all "?"

- no this is def. vinegar
- tbh if i was like "i want to drink carbonated vinegar" i would probably be into it but i did not want to drink carbonated vinegar tonight
- vinegar taste isn't going away atm"

"I put this gose just below Westbrook and Anderson valley. Quite nice Yazoo!... "

"A solid subtle sour. Tart and salty and refreshing. Keep it up Yazoo!"

"Brighter flavor on draft than in bottle. First time a waitress ever warned me about a beer I ordered. Strong opinions on this one."

"One of the most drinkable Summer ales out there in my opinion.... as an earlier reviewer said, this is very "crushable"... So easy and drinking and refreshing... The sourness and saltiness is perfectly done... I could pound these on a hot summer day... It happens to be rainy and not very hot today but it's still very refreshing.... about to pair it with some homemade sriracha wings and I have a feeling that it's going to be perfect... so glad this isn't a straight pale wheat as those can get tiresome... this offering keeps me guessing... very nice..."

"Not really working for me. First Yazoo I didn't really enjoy. - Drinking a Summer "

"I love this beer and have bought several cases of it since the summer began. Just prior to finding this beer, I was complaining at the local growler station that the Memphis area was a desert for sours and that I could only get them when I traveled. I prefer this gose to the half-dozen or so I've had (including Westbrook's and Sixpoint's). It even edges out Boulevard's excellent hibiscus gose. Those unaccustomed to sours might not understand, but judging by the fact that I often have to hunt three or four locations to find six packs in stock, I think people are starting to catch on. I'm going to be sad when the run ends, as this has become my go-to brew since I first stumbled onto it."

"Yazoo Summer tastes like urine and regret."

"yazoo summer is a sour??? I'm in love"

"Very aptly named and a bold move for this year's Summer! This is the perfect summer beer. Crisp, tart, and very satisfying. Very well done!"

"Pretty disgusting"

"Piss in a bottle"

"Tastes like I pissed in the bottle"

"Pale yellow, thin head. Smells tart, lemony. Taste is lemon, salty sea air, some subtle toasty notes. Very tasty stuff."

"Fantastic summer beer. Golden color, aroma of straw, the wind, and Al Capone’s second wife. The flavor is a balance of tart candies and vacation. Very effervescent. Well done, Nashville."

"One of the best beers I've had in a while."

"Hey Yazoo.  Let me start by saying that I am a HUGE fan of your work.  Gerst is my favorite beer ever and your Spring Seasonal is probably my second.  That being said, I was excited to try the Summer Seasonal, so I bought a 6-pack at Kroger in Lebanon, TN.  I have to say I was not only disappointed, I was a little grossed out.  I tried another bottle to see if maybe I'd gotten a bad one, but it was the same.  Definitely not my cup of tea.  I don't think Kroger will take back 4 bottles out of a 6 pack that i've thrown away the box to.  I have never done this kind of thing before, but, although I wouldn't want to just throw the beer away, it is utterly undrinkable to my taste.  I'm wondering if you would be willing to help me out with an exchange or credit for another Yazoo brew.  Thanks so much.  I look forward to hearing from you."

"Love the lemony notes upfront and the wheat on the back is a great balance. Solid summer ale, considering I usually hate them."

"Worst yazoo I've had to date"

"Overall-I visit Nashville a lot, and when I do I always make the point to grab myself some Yazoo. I really enjoy this beer during the summer. The sweet and sourness this beer has really hits the spot when I drink it. Out of the wheat beers I've tried, this one is the most complex and enjoyable."

"The body is smooth, but light and very drinkable. There is a slightly puckering tart and sweet aftertaste of lemon and hints of white grape must. The finish transitions into a dry, almost crisp feel. Extremely drinkable and refreshing beer."

"Semen-like"  -  Tyler W. on

"Nice and Tart!"

"Quite tart!  I would prefer a bit more salt to round out this gose"

"I'm normally a big fan of everything you guys do especially the Gerst and the Dos Perros. I've even enjoyed the limited and seasonal beers that you have put out. That is, right up until I tasted the summer seasonal wheat beer!  What were y'all thinking? Did anyone taste that shit before it went out the door?  It tastes like watered-down, fermented lime juice stirred with a rusty spoon!  Two thumbs waaaay down!  Other than that, keep up the great work! The Gerst is brilliant!"

"Yazoo Summer Wheat Ale is delicious. Omg."

"I'm in love....."

 Well, you can see that reactions have been ALL OVER THE PLACE.  We haven't gotten this strong a reaction (negative or positive) to a beer ever, even "Sue".

Personally, as a brewer, I think we nailed it. I've been drinking it almost exclusively for the past few weeks, and after a long hot day in the brewery or outside doing yard work, it's hard to beat.

But I have come to realize that not everyone has developed a craving for sour, like we have at the brewery. It can be intense and surprising if you aren't expecting it. And for many people, it is an immediate sign that something is wrong with the beer. Nothing went wrong. That's how we intended it to taste. We think it is the perfect beer for summer in the South, and our brewers haven't been this pumped up about a new beer in a long time.

We realize everyone's taste buds are different, and that's why we have tried our hands at so many different beers over the past 12 years. We'll continue to make our standards, like our Pale Ale, Dos Perros, and Hefeweizen, and will always strive to make them better and better. But we'll continue to push ourselves to try new styles and techniques, always in search of making the best beers possible. Thanks again for your support, and your passion for good beer. If you would like to contact me, my email is

Have a great Summer!

Interesting comparison of TN's beer, wine, and liquor tax rank compared to other states

Thanks to the Tax Foundation for the maps from  Beer taxes in Tennessee remain the highest in the country, over 20% higher than even the next highest state, Alaska.  Compare that to how we rank for taxes on wine, and taxes on liquor.

Hop Project #83

OK, I really have to apologize for the lateness of this post.  Hop Project #83 has been out for a while now, and I'm just now posting the information for this brew.  No excuse, I'm sorry.

Hop Project #83 is a throwback to another era, when the only place you would find an India Pale Ale was the British Empire.  They said the sun never set on the British Empire in its heyday, and while that is no longer true, you can still find examples of an English IPA.  It's tough to find one fresh, though, unless you pick up a six-pack of our Hop Project #83.

It's brewed with the lighter grain bill we've been using for a while now - pale malts, some caramel, and some oats.  To get that classic English-style IPA flavor, it's brewed with Magnum for bittering, and then ALL East Kent Goldings hops throughout the rest of the brew.

It's a big departure from your typical American IPA.  The bitterness is more restrained, and the English hops have a more herbal, orange-marmalade flavor.  The bitterness comes in at the end, giving it a cleansing, clean-teeth feeling on the mouthfeel.

We hope you are liking it!  But as always, once it's gone, it's gone, and we will be on to a completely different version of Hop Project soon.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Hop Project #82 bottled today, 2/2/15

For this one, we used all C's - Columbus, Cascade, Chinook, and Centennial-type hops. I like it - nice and citrusy, straight up West-coast style.

Danielle came up with this recipe, and helped brew and dry-hop it. So give her a high-five next time you see her in the taproom!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Another bottling of Hop Project #81!

The second run of #81 was bottled on Monday, Dec 29th.

How are y'all liking this one?  The Sorachi Ace hops, with all their lemony goodness, really shine through with the change in the grain bill we made back on Hop Project #80.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hop Project #81 bottled today Dec 8th

For this, the 81st in the series, our own Brandon Bingman used Magnum, Sorachi Ace, Palisade, and Willamette, dammit.

This is good! Very lemony and minty, and extremely drinkable. If you like it, tell Brandon!