Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Who makes "Craft Beer"?

If you follow the beer industry, you have probably read about controversy regarding the Brewers Association's statement regarding "real craft" versus "faux crafty" beers and their attempt to define what is a craft beer and what is not.

The Brewers Association is a not-for-profit trade group made up of small, independent, and traditional American craft brewers across the U.S.  To define its membership, the Brewers Association came up with the following definition of its members: "small" means less than 6 million barrels of beer produced annually; "independent" means that no more than 25% of the brewer can be owned by another brewery who itself is not a BA member; "traditional" means a brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.

First, a little history:  this definition of a "craft" brewer has not always been so convoluted.  In fact, when Yazoo Brewing started in 2003, I don't think there was anything more to the definition than "small" meant under 2 million barrels a year of production.  However, a few years ago, Boston Beer, the brewer of Sam Adams lager and the biggest member of the BA, approached 2 million barrels of beer sold.  At the same time, brewers such as Redhook and Widmer began selling equity in their businesses to the bigger brewers like Anheuser-Busch.  So the BA changed their definition - expanding the limit to 6 million barrels, and adding the "independent" and "traditional" definitions as well.

I personally think that the general public deserves to make up their own mind on what beer and brands they want to support with their hard-earned money.  Most "craft" beer drinkers are choosing to buy their beers based on flavor and taste, but also because they like to support small businesses, often ones based in their own community.  My main problem with the brands that the Brewers Association called out as "faux crafty", brands like MillerCoors' Blue Moon or A-B's Shock Top, is that the consumer is often confused as to who the true brewer of the brand is.  But the same can be said of a lot of the "craft" beers on the shelf in your local Kroger, that are solely contract-brewed at big facilities like City Brewery's plants in Wisconsin and now in Memphis.

My advice is, go with what tastes great to you.  If you are a person who cares about where a beer is made and who made it (like me for instance), do a little research while you're sipping on that beer.  If you find that a big brewer owns the brand, and that knowledge ends up making the beer taste not quite as good to you, that's fine.  The good news is, there are more and more small, independent brewers out there every day who you can support.

Monday, December 10, 2012

New tank installation pics!

View from up on the roof
the tanks arrive!
Big temporary skylight the night before...

Up and away

Sure it will fit!  I think so at least...

one in, one to go

All in!

Quinn next to our original 10 bbl fermenter,
 with one 20 times as big in the background.  It's
starting to look like a real brewery in here!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Introducing the first ever Yazoo-Calfkiller Brewing collaboration brew - "The Beacon"

We have never done a collaboration brew with another brewery before. But about three weeks ago, I traveled up to Sparta, TN, to brew a seven-barrel batch with the Sergios of Calfkiller Brewing. I had been impressed with Dave and Don and 
their approach to beers and brewing since I met them a few years ago. I think we have a lot in common and I always enjoyed sharing a few beers with them. One thing we definitely have in common is our drive to change Tennessee's beer taxes, which unfairly tax craft brewers at a higher per-gallon rate than beers from the big brewers, and which have risen every year since 1954, to where TN's beer taxes are the highest in the country. So... we decided to put our frustrations into liquid form. Introducing... THE BEACON! Shining a light on a STYLE OF BEER UNIQUE TO TENNESSEE! THE "TENNESSEE HIGH TAX ALE" STYLE! Yes, only Tennessee can lay claim to this unique style of beer, where the taxes are raised to an almost unbelievable level of $37.00 per barrel. Other areas of the country can claim unique styles of beer, but only in TN are beer taxes taken to this level. We should be so proud!

Your first chance to taste this beer will be if you were lucky enough to have gotten one of the 1000 tickets to the 12S Winter Warmer beer festival this Sat, Dec 1. But there's more - we will be tapping kegs of this across Tennessee in the weeks to come. We will be brewing a second batch at Yazoo Brewing soon and plan on bottling it up in big 750 ml bottles, for distribution wherever the light needs to shine in Tennessee.

What is The Beacon, you might ask? Calfkiller and Yazoo brewed this beer with some German oak smoked wheat malt, local TN honey, and some in-house Calfkiller-roasted coffee. It's fermented with Calfkiller's house ale yeast and unfiltered. I am so happy with how it turned out! The nose is fresh, clean and slightly flowery. The smoked wheat shows up in the beginning of the first sip, followed by a herbal, earthy body but finishing dry and only slightly sweet. 

Again, try it this weekend at the 12S Winter Warmer, and then if you missed it there, stay tuned for updates on where we tap the remaining kegs. Later in a few months we will brew another batch at Yazoo for bottling! 

And, if for some reason, you don't feel that Tennessee's unique claim to beer fame should be our highest beer taxes in the United States, stop by our TN Craft Brewers Guild tent at the festival for more information on how you can help change that! We will also have details up soon, on the TN Craft Brewers Guild website Thanks,


Linus Hall
Yazoo Brewing

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Embrace the Funk!

I've long been a fan of the beers of a local brewer and friend, Brandon Jones.  I first brewed with him when he won a chance to brew a recipe of his on our old ten-barrel system.  We were trying to raise money for a brewer who was in a horrible welding accident in east Tennessee, and Brandon stepped up to the plate, brewing his "Brandon's Hop Blaster", with all the proceeds going to help the brewer and his family.

Since then, Brandon has really branched out into some wild and funky ales, full of sharp, tangy, and wild flavors.  After the happy accident that we turned into Fortuitous last year, he and I got to talking - what if we could partner up to bring some of the beers we both loved to a wider audience in Nashville and beyond?

So...  here's introducing a new series, titled the "Embrace the Funk" series.  Brandon and I will be working on a range of wild, soured ales that we will release in small batches as we go forward.  Your first chance to taste our creations will come at the 12th South Winter Warmer, with a beer we are calling "Wild Child".  Its base beer was our Sue, but it has been aging for a good while in a special barrel inoculated with a brett yeast strain and some dark sour cherries.  If you don't get to taste this beer at the festival, don't worry - we will be releasing some big bottles of it soon afterwards.

Getting the spent grain out - still hard work!
We've also started on a couple of other beers, but until they age we won't know how they are going to turn out.  One challenge has been making a small enough batch of wort to get the limited amounts of these exotic bugs going.  I want to say thanks to the guys at Corsair Artisan, who kindly let Brandon and I in last Saturday to brew up a ten-barrel batch of a special wort for a barrel-fermented project, which hopefully will be ready to bottle in about a year.

Yes, we have the best jobs in the world

Laying down the funk!
Well, I'm really excited about teaming up with Brandon on bringing some of these wild and funky ales to a bigger audience.  Through his website,, Brandon has been chronicling his journey down the wild path, along with some great interviews with brewers like Jean Van Roy of Cantillon, Tomme Arthur at Lost Abbey, Lauren Salazar at New Belgium, and Chad Yakobson of Crooked Stave.  We will be continuing that spirit with frequent updates of our progress (or failures!).

Stay tuned here and at:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hop Project #68, bottled 10/26/12

Hop Project #68 was bottled this week.  For this one, we used...  you know, after 67 of these, I think I will change up my posts a little and take advantage of the "new media".  So here is Josh to tell you more:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

9 years...

Nine years ago today, Yazoo opened our doors for the first time.  Working in the taproom that night were Lila (7 months pregnant), my mother-in-law Vicky, Zach (our first brewer), and me.  Twitter and Facebook didn't exist, so we just emailed all our friends and asked them to spread the word that we were (finally) open.  I think we had about 40-50 people come out, and we thought we were slammed!  Our bright idea on samplers was to give everyone a paper ticket for each 5 oz pour, and you could come back up to the bar for your next pour.  Man, how naive we were!  Trying to figure out how to work the cash register, how much change should we have?  Where did all our glassware go?  Oh, it's being used and we are out?  We thought we would have time to hand-wash all our glassware, and didn't need a dishwasher.  Ha!  Thanks to the patience of all our friends, we made it through the first weekend.

Those first few months, I wondered if it was even worth it to be open on Saturday afternoons.  I worked the taproom by myself, because we were almost always dead except for a few people coming in for growler refills.  One Saturday, the Titans had a playoff game and I doubted we would get anyone coming in, so I brought in a TV and put it on the end of the bar to watch the game.  I did actually have one customer the entire day, who enjoyed a few pints with me while watching the game.

Things certainly have changed!  We have met some amazing, wonderful, generous, funny people over the last nine years.  We've had some great times, and laughed a lot more often than not.  Our little brewery has grown and grown - new tanks, new equipment, new great employees, to a move into a new location in the Gulch.

And we aren't planning on slowing down anytime soon.  We have two new tanks arriving in late November, that should boost our capacity by about 30%.  The two new 200 bbl fermenters are being manufactured in Wisconsin right now, and are so large that we will have to cut a hole in the roof for the crane to get them in.  We thought that the two new 120 bbl fermenters we installed in March would keep us from hitting a capacity wall for a while, but with the growth we've seen, they weren't enough.  We are having to rearrange our tank layout in the brewery a little to make room for the new tanks, and adding another chiller out back to handle the new cooling load.  The new capacity should help us keep up with the growth of our Yazoo brands, plus Gerst, Hap and Harry's (the beer we make for our mid-TN distributor, RS Lipman), and - something I am really excited about - more high-gravity Yazoo beers and seasonal releases.

Also, I can't announce it definitively right now, but I'll throw out a teaser - we're working on some collaboration projects with a couple of fellow Tennessee brewers, with some of the first beers being ready towards the end of the year.  They are sure to warm up your winter...

2012 is shaping up to be a great year for us, but I am really excited about what 2013 holds. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Announcing new "Fall Hours" for the taproom on Saturdays... Noon to 6 PM

Starting Saturday, November 3rd, our Saturday taproom hours will be changing!  We will be open from 12 noon until 6 PM on Saturdays.  Why the change?  Well, our early tours are the most popular, and we often have them sell out immediately.  Plus, opening at noon gives you two more hours to enjoy a beer and a great lunch from our food truck friends, on our sunlit patio - with plenty of time to rally your friends for dinner.  So, for those of you planning a tour of the brewery this fall, please note the new hours on Saturdays, and make sure to get your tour tickets ahead of time on our online store, 

We will probably keep these hours the same until late spring next year.  Don't worry, we will give plenty of notice when we change them back!

Hellow Fall! Our rich, malty Fall Lager is being bottled today!

There are sure signs of a good fall season in TN - leaves changing, a crispness in the air, the Titans stealing one from the Bills yet again... and our Fall Lager hitting the shelves. While a lot of breweries have their fall seasonals out while the kids are still on summer vacation, we decided to wait until we needed to get the rake out.

This year, we bumped up the body with more dark Munich malts, and increased the hops accordingly, with Magnum hops for bittering and Tettnanger hops in the finish.

Monday, October 15, 2012

More information on the hops in the Bells Bend Preservation Ale

I got a very interesting email from the man who donated the hop rhizomes to the Sulphur Creek Farm a year ago.  He and his wife had been growing some hops in his backyard in east Nashville for his own homebrew.  When he had to move to Chicago, he decided to dig up the hop rhizomes and donate them to his friend Eric Wooldridge, who manages the farm.  The background behind the hops is pretty amazing.  Here is his email to us:

"Hi! I'm hoping this finds its way to Linus.  My family is responsible for the new batch of hops in the Bells Bend Preservation Ale.  I saw your blog post and talked to Eric about them and was glad to hear they did so well.  I thought you might like to know the story behind them.  My grandparents bought a 25 acre farm in Smithsburg, MD in the 1950's from some 7th day Adventists, who in turn had bought the place from the original owner in the 1930's (it was built around 1900).  When they bought it, it had an extensive orchard and the hops in question growing.  My grandparents weren't beer drinkers and replaced the hops with wine grapes in the 80's.  Luckily, my uncle kept some growing at his home in Brandywine, MD.  My wife and I moved to Nashville in 2005 and bought our first house in East Nashville.  We were excited to have a yard and are homebrewers, so one of the things we had to have were those hops.  We kept them going and made several batches of quality homebrew from them until last fall.  We knew we were moving to Chicago and entering apartment living for a couple years, but wanted the hops to keep going.   I just happened to read about the first batch of Preservation Ale and saw a perfect place to keep our hops until we could have a yard again.  I got in touch with Eric, and the rest is history.  As for the type of hop, it is unknown.  My uncle sent some plants off to a botanist in Oregon that has a special interest in pre-WW2 American hops back in the 90's.  He wasn't able to attribute any specific name to them, but wasn't surprised by it, because he said there are dozens of wild and imported hop varieties throughout New England that have grow since colonial times or were native and saw a surge in propagation during Prohibition.  So, that is the story of the "new" hops, I thought you might like to know."

We still have some bottles of Preservation Ale left for sale at the brewery.  The proceeds from this batch are going back to the farm for more conservation work and to continue to grow more hops.  Now that I know the story behind the hops, it makes the beer taste even better!  Come and get some this weekend before it sells out completely!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bronze medal for Hefeweizen at the Great American Beer Festival!

There's Justin and Ryan accepting our bronze medal for Hefeweizen at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival!  That makes two medals for our Hefeweizen, after a gold medal in 2004.  (I bet they haven't had to pay for a beer all night!)

We are always proud of our Hefeweizen, from its use of only authentic German wheat malt and a true German yeast, to our use of the traditional form of bottle-conditioning using only high-krausen wort (where a portion of hefeweizen made the night before is added just before bottling, undergoing a secondary fermentation in the bottle).  We always love when German tourists in Nashville give a suspicious glance when we recommend our hefe - only to say "it's guut!"when they drink it!  But it's especially nice to win a medal for it, at the equivalent of the Oscars for brewers.  Prost!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Yaaaay - TN is number one in beer taxes yet again...

From the Beer Institute:

Total taxes on beer (2011 data)

  1. TN - $37.00 per barrel (#1 in US)
  2. AL - $32.65 per barrel (#3 in US)
  3. AR - $7.51 per barrel (#23 in US)
  4. GA - $30.73 per barrel (#4 in US)
  5. MS - $13.23 per barrel (#11 in US)
  6. KY - $23.96 per barrel (#6 in US)
  7. NC - $19.13 per barrel (#9 in US)
  8. VA - $8.69 per barrel (#21 in US)

Why'd I pick those states?  They are all bordering TN.  Once again, TN has the highest beer taxes in the country, and the gap between TN and the rest of the country continues to grow.  Why?  Because TN has a 17% wholesale tax on beer.  Since 1954, TN has increased its effective tax rate on beer per gallon sold, without ever having to take a vote to increase taxes on beer.  Just think of the uproar among blue-collar voters, if every year our legislature voted to increase taxes on beer.  Yet, by putting a 17% wholesale tax on beer, that's exactly what has happened.  Inflation and rising prices of raw materials forces brewers to raise their prices, and then - this 17% TAX MULTIPLIES OUR PRICE INCREASE BY A FACTOR OF 1.17!  A modest price increase at the brewery level turns into huge price increase at the retail level.

The TN Craft Brewers Guild is working to change this.  How can you help?  Stay tuned.  When the legislature is back in session in January, we'll be asking for your help.

Linus Hall
TN Craft Brewers Guild
Yazoo Brewing Co

Thursday, October 4, 2012

# of Brewers vs Distributors in the US

*data from the Beer Institute's website
This is a pretty interesting chart.  The purple line is the number of breweries in the US since 1887.  At the end of 2011, there were 2309 breweries operating in the US, the most since 1887 and a far cry from the low of 45 in 1978 (god those were awful days).

However, even more interesting is the blue line.  That's the number of distributors operating in the US.  From a high of 17,630 in the years right after Prohibition, consolidation has whittled the numbers down to only 2,040 distributors left in the US.  Yes, there are now more breweries than distributors in the US.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wednesday Pint and Growler nights...

Starting today, you will not only be able to stop by on Wednesdays to get your growlers filled, but you can now also enjoy a pint or two, and some fresh eats from a Nashville food truck - tonight we have Wrapper's Delight parked outside, plus special prices on growlers, from 4-6 PM.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Bells Bend Preservation Ale release this weekend!

Our chance to taste the fruits of our labor is here!  Come out to the Sulphur Creek Farm this Friday night, Oct 5th, for a square dance party featuring the Bells Bend Stringband, and the first taste of the beer we made with hops grown on the farm - "Bells Bend Preservation Ale".  The square dance starts at 8 PM and tickets are on sale at

We are also bottling about 1000 bottles of the Bells Bend Preservation Ale this year, in big 750 ml bottles, featuring artwork from James Osborne, a local artist and friend of the farm.  The label is beautiful, featuring one of the whooping cranes that have been seen nesting in the Bells Bend area.  The beer is a light-bodied pale ale, with a clean citrusy aroma from the locally-grown hops.  We will be releasing the bottles for sale on Saturday, Oct 6th, at the brewery as part of our 9th birthday party.  The bottles will be $5 each, with the proceeds benefiting conservation efforts in the "Beaman Park to Bells Bend Conservation Corridor".  The bottles will go on sale at 4 PM Saturday Oct 6th at the brewery.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

More Hop Project #67

Another batch of Hop Project #67 is being bottled today, and the label will read "NO67.12.SEP.12".   People are really liking this one, which used a lot of Motueka hops from New Zealand.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Some freshly picked local hops, heading towards the brewery!

We got a bumper crop this year from the hop field at Sulphur Creek Farm out in Bells Bend, despite the June drought and the fact that most of these hops came from first-year plantings!  It's a neat story - last year a friend of Eric Wooldridge (who manages the farm) called him up after reading about our hop harvest story in the Tennessean in 2011.  He had some planters full of hop rhizomes from his family's farm in east Tennessee, that had been growing wild up there for years.  Eric planted the new hop trellis area with these new rhizomes, with the hopes that they would do well since they have been acclimated to Tennessee's growing season.  Luckily, this variety seems to be a late-developing type, and the rains in late July really allowed them to take off.  They smell great too, lots of bright citrus and some earthy herbal notes.  We are going to use them to dry-hop a special hop harvest ale, that we will have ready for a special release on Friday, October 5th, at a square dance party out at the Sulphur Creek farm.  Also, bottles of the the special "Bells Bend Preservation Ale" will also be available in 750 ml bottles at the brewery starting Oct 6th, with the proceeds benefiting conservation efforts in the "Bells Bend to Beaman Park Corridor".  For more information, check out their website at

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pry-off versus twist-off bottles? What's your preference?

Well, after several years of asking our bottle supplier to give us the option to switch to pry-off bottles instead of the twist-off ones we are currently using, he has come through.  So I'm putting it out there to all of you - what's your preference?

A little history:  when we first starting bottling, our bottling line was set up for the shorter Heritage style bottles and couldn't be changed to a different size.  The closest bottle supplier could only get us twist-off bottles, so that is what we have been using.  Freight is a huge cost for bottles, and so we couldn't easily get the pry-off kind from another supplier.

But now our new bottling line can handle both kinds, and our supplier can get the pry-off bottles for us.  The benefits to the beer are that over time, less oxygen can leak past the caps on pry-off bottles versus twist-off bottles - Sierra Nevada did the research that led them to make the switch to pry-off bottles a year or so ago.  Also, our homebrewer friends have made it clear that they prefer pry-off bottles for reusing for their homebrew.  The cons?  Well, obviously you have to have an opener to get the bottle open - but most of the time, if we are capping on foam at the bottler, it's pretty hard to twist off our caps anyway.

So, anyway, what are all of your thoughts?


Thanks for all the comments!  Pry-off bottles were your overwhelming choice!  They are ordered, and we should be making the switch in a month or so.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Bigger bottles...

We recently began packaging Sue in 750 ml (25.4 oz) bottles, starting with the batch that is hitting the shelves this week.  Why, and why now?

Well, when we first began bottling Sue, we were limited by our old bottling line (the infamous Meheen) to only one size bottle we could run.  So, we came out with Sue in our four-pack Brewmaster's Reserve.  We also were using that Brewmaster's Reserve 4-pack for our seasonals, but since in TN high-alc beer is sold in separate stores from regular beer, having two different beers in the same 4-packs was not a problem.  However, as we branched out into Alabama, and recently in Mississippi - states where all beer is sold in the same stores -  we couldn't keep putting two different beers into the Brewmaster's Reserve packs.

After seeing the great reception we got from our Fortuitous in the 750's, I decided to purchase the changeover parts so that our new bottling line could be set up for bigger bottles.  With the bigger bottles, which will be sold individually, we won't have to come up with a new 4-pack carton every time we want to bring out a new limited release.  The 4-packs are expensive and the minimums runs are large.  Now, we can simply get a label done and run with it.  So our regular seasonal beers, like the Rye Saison, will continue to be in the 4-packs, but our high-alc beers and limited releases will be in the bigger bottles.

So we are excited about the bigger bottles!  We will be able to do a lot more limited releases, without sinking a ton of resources into packaging.  Sue will be a regular in the big bottles, and we plan on releasing some of this year's Bells Bend Preservation Ale, a fresh hop ale brewed with hops grown right down the road at Sulphur Creek Farm in Bells Bend, in the 750's later on this fall.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hop Time!

It's getting to be that time again!  Yeah, football season is starting soon, but that's not what I'm talking about. This time of year, brewers get excited about just one thing - fresh hops!  This past Saturday, the Yazoo crew  joined some folks from Sulphur Creek Farm in Bells Bend to pick hops for our annual Fresh Hop ale.

The hops we picked were of the Cascade variety, and were planted about three years ago.  Earlier this spring, the folks at Sulphur Creek expanded the hop trellis area and planted a local variety of hops, that were sourced growing wild at another local farm.  The owner of that farm said the hops have been growing wild on his property for years.

The Cascades planted a few years ago were ready to be picked - the drought in June had been pretty hard on them.  But the local variety exploded into new growth once the rains came back in July, and we decided to let them continue growing for another month or so.

The hops picked Saturday went into a brewing tank on Sunday morning, and are happily steeping all of their resiny, oily goodness into a batch of beer.  Once the rest of the hops are picked, in about a month, we will do the same with them, and then blend the two batches together into one big Fresh Hop ale.

We're planning another big party again once the beer is ready.  And if all goes well, we plan on bottling some of this Fresh Hop ale in the big 750 ml bottles.  A local artist out in Bells Bend is working on a great label for the bottles.  So stay tuned!

Here are some great pics of the harvest, thanks to Paul Schatzkin!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hop Project #66 out!

Hop Project #66 is out, starting with a mystery blank date (date stamper broke) and today marked "NO66.20.JUL.12".

Ahh... Zythos in the house!  We used a blend of Cascade, Magnum, CTZ, and a proprietary blend from Hopunion called Zythos. The aroma on this one is great - lots of pine, citrus, orange, and grapefruit. It's not as bitter as some others we've done - the hops take their time in settling in. 

This should soon be available wherever Hop Project is sold.  Next up - the New Zealand hops are finally available! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Thirth of July!

Terrible picture, sorry - but that's Todd Snider, Bobby Keys, Tim Carroll and friends rocking some 50's tunes at the annual Thirth of July block party in east Nashville.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Introducing the 1st Hot Chicken Parade!


To kick off the 2012 Hot Chicken Festival, we've decided to add what we hope will become another Nashville tradition - the Hot Chicken Parade!

  1. The parade will start at 10:30 AM on Woodland Street, near the Turnip Truck.
  2. Leading the parade will be the creative genuis behind the Hot Chicken Festival, former Mayor Bill Purcell, in his antique fire truck.
  3. The parade will head down Woodland Street towards downtown, make a left at the Community Center on S.6th St, then left on Russell Street into East Park.
  4. Following behind the mayor will be the famous Half Brass Band, jazzing up the crowds lining Woodland St.
  5. Somewhere in the mix will be the old Yazoo 1956 Ford F100 with the Queen of the Hot Chicken Festival flinging commemorative Hot Chicken beads to the throngs.  (OK, it might just be Neil, but that will be OK too)
  6. There will be a couple more antique fire trucks and quite possibly a notable Nashvillian performing her fire twirling routine (and quite possibly not)
So unless you are one of the hardcore 500 who camped out in line to get free hot chicken samples, why not join us along Woodland Street for the first ever Hot Chicken Parade!  Grab some beads, grab some hot bird, and grab some brews!  See you there!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bicycles and beer just seem to go together.  Whether you just use your bike to commute to work occasionally, or are a hardcore mountain biker, enjoying a handcrafted beer at the end of the ride makes it all worth it.  But finding trails off the beaten path can be a challenge for urban dwellers.  Luckily there is a fine group of Tennesseans working to improve our selection of off-road bike trails.  Join our friends from SORBA Mid TN this Friday night at Land Rover of Nashville for a night of hot munchies, great music, and fine craft beer sampling, all to support SORBA's mission of creating new bike trails in middle Tennessee.  A donation of $35 gets you in for the event, and what's more - a $10 raffle ticket might be your chance to win a Lynsky Pro 29 SL Titanium frame (worth, like, $3 grand)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


B-double E- double R – U- N!

If you did a search for “beer run Nashville” a few years ago, you’d bring up all the Garth Brooks-vs.-Todd Snider controversy over who wrote the song of the same name (Todd Snider’s original is much better).  But recently, there’s been a surge in popularity of another type of “beer run”: getting up on a bright Saturday morning, running a few miles, and enjoying a cold brew with friends at the finish (or even during the run!)  Yazoo Brewing has been organizing “Barely a 4K” Beer Runs across the South the past year with a growing group of runners at each one.  Our most recent 4K had runners exploring a route that included the historic Nashville City Cemetery and Fort Negley, and ending with a celebratory lap around the infield at the Sound’s Greer Stadium and a cold Yazoo from the concession stand.  Whether you’re a marathoner or just getting started, a beer run is a great way to reward yourself for the effort.  See you at the next one!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Getting started on another batch of Fortuitous

This time, we will start with another local distillery's used barrels - Collier and McKeel. Mike Williams of C&Mc bought our original 10 bbl brewhouse and leased it to Corsair in our old space. He is now setting up his own space in a building in west Nashville. He makes a killer whiskey, and I can't wait to see how this turns out!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

#65 Hop Project bottled 5/3 - lots of Columbus, Horizon, and Cluster hops

The next version of Hop Project is being bottled today. We used a mix of Horizon, Columbus, and Cluster hops throughout, including dryhopping in the fermenter.   Cluster is an old hop, that was once the most widely used hop in American beer.  It has a distinctive aroma and flavor - reminds me of English candy for some reason.

This is the first try at a Hop Project recipe for Ryan, one of our newer brewers.  Stop by the taproom and see how he did, or look for this batch in your favorite store!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Country Music Marathon and 1/2 Marathon Advice, from a beer drinker/ runner...

Here we go again!  The last Saturday of April, when over 30,000 people take to the streets of Nashville for the Country Music Marathon.  I've run the full marathon once, and the half-marathon about 5-6 times, and I thought I'd share some tips I've learned that can make the day as easy as possible:

1.  The night before, don't do the whole carb-loading thing, where you force yourself to eat five plates of pasta washed down with just water.  Have a light dinner, like a sandwich and a salad, drink a couple of beers, and go to bed early.
2.   Yeah, seriously, have a couple of good beers.  It'll help you sleep, and good beer is has plenty of carbs.  Better yet, have a couple of unfiltered hefeweizens.  The brewers yeast is full of vitamins like B12.
3.   Get to the shuttle buses at LP Field by 5:15 AM.  It can take 20-30 minutes to get through the line to get on a bus, and then another 20 minutes to ride to Centennial Park.
4.   Get a cup of coffee and a banana, and go directly to the porta-johns.  The lines there will take 45 minutes - seriously.  You won't think you need to go, but as the start time approaches and you get nervous, you will - and then the lines will take forever.
5.   Get in your corral and head to the side away from Centennial Park.  You won't get pushed around as much by people trying to get in as the start time approaches.
6.   Start slow.  You are going to want to run faster than your pace to try to get away from the crowd, but in a race this big, you never get away from the crowds.  And the hill going up Demonbruen to the Musica Roundabout is a killer if you started out too fast.
7.   There are always fresh oranges and bananas in front of the International Market on Belmont, and they always give you a good burst of energy.
8.   Pace yourself on 12th Ave South.  There are two long hills that can take a lot out of you.  And seeing everyone drinking a beer at Mafioasa's and 12th S Taproom is tempting.  Don't give in.
9.   The road through the Gulch can be tough on your legs.  Watch out for ruts and potholes, and don't turn an ankle.
10.  Pace yourself on 8th Ave and through the Bicentennial Mall.  It feels like you are almost done, but you have a killer hill ahead.
11.  The hill coming up James Robertson Parkway, in front of the Capitol Building, is the last big one.  Once you get to the top, it's all downhill from there!
12.  Smile when you pass through the finish line and make sure they can see your number!
13.    Drink a couple of good beers, take a shower, and go take a nap.  Congratulations!

Hope to see some Yazooligans during the race!  Lila and I are doing the half together.



2nd run of Gerst today!

Bottling Gerst today!  2nd run in two weeks.  We've been getting a lot of calls and emails asking where it is available.  It's getting out there - should be in most area grocery stores and retailers who carry Yazoo over the next month or so.  Midtown Beverages, Frugal Macdoogals, Mt. Juliet Beer all took big orders this week, so try there if you can't find it in your local store.  And of course, we have some cases for sale here at the brewery! Here's a link to a youtube video:

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Super secret event this Monday...

Hey guys! This is something cool at the Yazoo taproom this coming Monday, which might have slipped under your radar. Our friends at City House and Capitol Grille are teaming up with Yazoo for a fundraiser for the Southern Foodways Alliance this coming Monday, April 16, at the Yazoo taproom. Tyler Brown from Capitol Grille (Hermitage Hotel) and Tandy Wilson from City House will be grilling some great local brats and sausages, and guests are asked to bring a side dish for a good ole potluck dinner. There will be award-winning chefs grilling on our patio, live music, and plenty of tasty beer, plus some surprise dishes from our guests. Tickets are still available at:


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It sure is an interesting time to be in the beer business...

Sierra Nevada building a second brewery in Asheville (500k bbls) ... New Belgium building a second brewery just down the road from them (600k bbls) ... Lauganitas building a second brewery in Chicago (600k bbls) ... Terrapin selling equity to Tenth and Blake, the Blue Moon division of MillerCoors, and expanding to 100k bbls ... Sweetwater expanding to 500k bbls this year ... over 900 breweries-in-planning, hoping to open this year ... Savor in DC selling out in about 2 minutes this year, at $120 a ticket ... GABF is probably already sold out.

So with just those existing breweries I mentioned, about 2.3 million barrels of capacity added ... and that was not a complete list by far. By comparison, Boston Beer (Sam Adams) sold 2.259 million bbls in 2010. So in a few years, the increase in capacity from just the brewers I listed will be like adding another Sam Adams to the craft beer market. Pretty amazing...

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Putting up the hop poles today at Sulphur Creek Farm, Bells Bend

We're working with Sulphur Creek Farm again, planting more hops out at Bells Bend. Last year they planted Cascade hops, and we harvested enough for a small batch of Preservation Ale. This year we're putting up a much larger hop trellis and planting some Cascade, Centennial, and a mystery hop - one that a local farmer has had growing on his property for years, but has never been brewed with. It grows well in this climate, so we hope it turns out to be a great hop!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I love this time of year! Happy Nashville Craft Beer Week!

We're bottling our spring seasonal today, our Rye Saison. First brewed to celebrate our five year anniversary in 2008, it proved so popular that we decided to bring it back every year in the spring. And you couldn't ask for better weather to have one of these out on your deck (hopefully in your new Speigelau glass!) If you can't wait to get it in your local store, we'll have it at the brewery starting Wednesday.

Look at the head on this beer! Rye is tough to work with in brewing, because of the dense, sticky mash it makes - especially in a beer with this much rye in the grain bill. But the brilliant dense white head and fruity, spicy flavor this grain brings makes it worth it. (That's a bottle cap floating on top!)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

About $1.73 a six-pack

Last week, the Nashville Business Journal reported that beer taxes in TN were some of the lowest in the country, based on data provided by the Tax Foundation in Washington, D.C. However, Tennessee gets most of its beer tax revenue from a 17% wholesale tax. If you look at all the taxes the state collects on the sale of beer, TN has the highest overall taxes in the country. I emailed both the Nashville Business Journal and the Tax Foundation, asking them to clarify their stance. The Journal posted a clarification the next day, but I didn't hear back from the Tax Foundation. But Politifact Tennessee picked up on the claim made by the Tax Foundation and reported their assessment of its truth here:

In 2010, the latest year I can find data for, Tennessee collected $122 million from the 17% wholesale tax and $16.6 million from the beer excise tax. Since the excise tax is a flat $4.29 per barrel, you can calculate that 3,896,464 barrels of beer were sold in TN in 2010. Combining the wholesale tax and the excise tax meant the AVERAGE total taxes on beer in 2010 were $35.82 per barrel, the highest in the country (a barrel is 31 gallons).

But since the wholesale tax is a PERCENTAGE of the wholesale price of the beer, more taxes are collected on craft beers than on the lower-priced beers of ABInbev and SABMillerCoors! The average wholesale price of cheap beer is around $19 a case. The average wholesale price of a case of craft beer is around $27.

So that $5.99 six pack of cheap beer has about $0.65 in wholesale tax and $0.55 in sales tax, for a total of $1.20 in state taxes. A craft beer at $8.49 a six pack has about $0.94 in wholesale tax and $0.79 in sales tax, for a total of $1.73 in state taxes.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hop Project 64 being bottled today

Long live Hop Project #63 - but it's time to move on. We will be getting some more Kiwi hops in later this year, but for #64 we wanted to get a little taste of the old country. We brought in three of our favorite English hops - Challenger, Progress, and Target - and used them throughout the batch.

The result? Well, the bitterness is very mellow and clean. It has a great spicy aroma, with hints of candy and orange marmalade. I really like it, and it is a great change of gears from #63. After a couple of batches of #64, enough to get it distributed out to all of our distribution area, we'll be getting some New Zealand hops in for #65.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Gerst bottling update...

Good news! After several iterations, everyone involved is happy with the label and six-pack art design, and the ATF signed off on the label approval. We've got the labels and six-packs being printed in the next week! It generally takes 3-4 weeks to get all that done, and then you should start to see bottles of Gerst in stores! Here is a sneak peak at the label:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Another cute picture of a lab...

This puppy has really been helping us to improve the quality and shelf-life of our beers over the past year. It's a dissolved oxygen meter. You place a recently bottled beer on the piercer, punch a tube through the bottle cap, and run the beer through the meter. You can also take the meter out into the brewery and test beer at different points in the process.

Why is it important to control dissolved oxygen? Well, in the first stages of fermentation, the yeast needs a certain level of oxygen in the wort to grow and reproduce properly. Once the beer is done fermenting, the oxygen levels will be very low, and you want to keep it that way. Oxygen will react with the great natural flavor compounds in beer and over time will create those old, stale cardboard flavors you taste in beer that is past its prime.

The DO meter has really helped us dial in our process to fight oxygen pickup. Over the past few months we've improved and modified our filtering process, changed our tank cleaning procedures, and fine-tuned the new Comac filler. We've been able to get our dissolved oxygen levels in the final bottled beer down to the same levels the "big" guys can achieve. All in all, it will mean our bottled beers will taste brewery fresh for much longer. As always, you can tell when we bottled any of our beers by checking the "bottled on" date stamped on the right side of the label, and the date stamped on the case box. Cheers!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pics of the new 120 bbl fermenters

Well, the new 120 bbl fermenters arrived last Wednesday. I decided to rent a carry-deck crane this time instead of trying to use two forklifts. Yes, there are companies that will rent you a crane! I guess they assume that you must know how to use it, if you are renting one. After practicing for a few minutes, we were ready to unload the truck.

Unloading the truck was a breeze with the crane. We just ran a sling to the top and to the legs, and hoisted the tank up onto our loading dock.

Then, once the tanks were off and the truck was on its way, the hard part began - getting the tanks inside the building and stood up in position. We had our forklift pick up the front (top) of the tank and the crane picked up the legs, and then we slowly drove up the ramp and into the building, stopping every few feet to readjust the boom on the crane to keep from smashing the dock door in.

Now for the tricky part. These 120 bbl tanks are only a few feet shorter than the roof in the brewery - not enough space above them to pick straight up to stand the tanks up. We couldn't use just our forklift to stand them up - its mast only goes up to 16'. We had to position the crane inside the building and boom way out over the tank. Our forklift was on the other side of the tank. The forklift picked the tank up as high as the mast on the forklift could go, and then we hooked the crane to the other side of the tank and started pulling back. The tank gently leaned over onto its feet, held back by the forklift.

Once one of the tanks was up, we repeated the whole procedure again for the second tank. Only now, with a lot less space to work in!

There they both are! Beautiful ain't it! Once all the piping and electrical is done, these babies will be filled and will start happily fermenting away. Which beer do you think we should start off with? I'm thinking Hop Project #64!

Monday, February 20, 2012

New 120 bbl fermenters set to arrive this week...

We'll have two new 120 bbl fermenters arriving this Wednesday (if they don't get clipped by a low-hanging overpass). We'll be setting them up in the space in front of the window from the taproom, unfortunately cutting down on the view of the bottling line from the taproom (or, fortunately, depending on what's going on with the bottling line on any given day).

It's starting to get a little tight in the brewery again, kind of like it was at Marathon before we ran out of room. I'll post some more pics of the tanks and our attempts to stand them up later this week.

Here's a pic from Friday of the tanks being loaded at Newlands Systems in Vancouver. They always look smaller on their sides than once you stand them up, but they are 19' tall and about 9' in diameter.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fortuitous time

Thank you to all of you who came out for the Fortuitous event. We appreciate each and every one of you! I hope everyone had a great time and that anyone who didn't win a ticket got hooked up by someone who did. I've never had so much great beer in my life, and thank you to everyone who brought out some special stuff to share. We will be doing something like this again in the future, for sure.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fortuitous Release Saturday Feb 18th at the brewery

Fortuitous Ale release Feb 18th at 2 PM at the brewery

We weren't planning on having any release party at all when we finally finished bottling this beer and got ready to ship it out. But after talking with some of Nashville's fellow beer geeks at the 12th South Winter Warmer, who argued that we would be almost cheating them out of a reason to all get together, we decided to hold an event at the brewery to celebrate Fortuitous' release.

The main problem is that due to Tennessee's archaic beer laws, we can't sell high-gravity beer here (see my previous post from last year for the details of why).

So here is how we plan to do it: We will open up the doors to the brewery at noon on Saturday, Feb 18th. From noon until 2 PM, everyone who comes in will get a free raffle ticket. Then at 2 PM, we will raffle off the 120 special certificates that will allow the holder to purchase up to four bottles of Fortuitous at a separate location (not far from the brewery). Whatever is not purchased on that Saturday will be available to the general public starting the following week. (Or maybe I'll just keep it and drink it all myself - seriously, I'm considering it.)

We don't want people having to camp out or wait in lines outside to get this beer. As long as you get here in time to get a free raffle ticket, you will have a good shot at getting up to four bottles of Fortuitous. We want this to be fun, so come on down for a few hours and join us!

Monday, January 23, 2012

SB 2167 and SB 2446

There have been some questions about the intent of these two bills - the wording on both is still pretty vague, and one of the abstracts mentions "high-alcohol content beer". I called Sen. Finney's office (one of the sponsors) today to try to get some clarification. The intent of both bills is to give the TN ABC the authority to regulate beverages with 90% abw or greater differently than beverages with less alcohol. The impetus of the bill was the death in Sen. Finney's district of an underage girl who overdosed on "Everclear", which is around 90% or 180 proof.

I was assured by the executive assistant that I spoke with that the bills would have nothing to do with anything except authorizing the ABC to regulate these 90% beverages differently than normal alcoholic beverages. She said that two bills were introduced in case one bill was held up in committee.

I think TN craft beer fans should keep an eye on the final language of any bill that makes it out of committee. But it doesn't appear that limiting the sale of high-alcohol beer is the intent of this bill at this point.

Hop Project #63, full of Australian Galaxy hops!

This is the one I personally have been really anticipating. Last year I managed to get my hands on just a little bit of Australian Galaxy hops, which we used as just a finishing hop in one of the Hop Projects. But we couldn't make very much of it, and I went back to trying to source a larger amount. Well, we got lucky and found enough this year to do a nice long run of Hop Project #63, featuring this great hop from down under, in both a flavor and aroma hop role. It's got a wonderfully ripe fruity nose, with a long, lingering, and clean bitterness. We made 160 bbls of it so far (equivalent to about 2000 cases) so we should be able to get some out to all the areas that sell Yazoo Hop Project over the next month. Look for it in Nashville first, then Knoxville, Chattanooga, Memphis, Jackson and Vicksburg, MS; and very soon along the MS coast!