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.