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Turtle Anarchy Brewing Company is open for business in Franklin

July 06, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer

Turtle Anarchy logoTurtle Anarchy Brewing Company, which we first mentioned back in March, is now open for business in the Nashville area.

The microbrewery in Franklin opened its taproom Thursday night for the first time and is open again today and Saturday, according to the Turtle Anarchy blog.

So flex your livers cause we’ve got four awesome beers for everyone to try. We will also be selling t-shirts, limited edition pint glasses, and of course growlers. So come on in and pick up some local craft beer! [source]

Turtle Anarchy, 216 Noah Drive, is the second brewery in Williamson County, joining brewpub Cool Springs Brewery.

Turtle Anarchy was founded by Mark Kamp, the microbrewery’s president. Mike Kraft left Cool Springs Brewery to serve as brewmaster for Turtle Anarchy.

Anyone make it to the opening? Leave a comment below.

A visit to Cool Springs Brewery in Franklin, Tenn.

October 05, 2011 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Travelin'

Cool Springs Brewery - sign

On a  visit last month to Nashville, I made sure to check out a brewpub I missed on my previous trips to Middle Tennessee.

Cool Springs Brewery started as a restaurant for pizza in 1991, opening in the Vanderbilt area under the name Guido’s. It’s since moved to Franklin and is under new ownership, having added a microbrewery only in recent years.

This unheralded brewpub at 600 Frazier Drive makes some really good beer. I had a sampler, which allowed me to try everything on tap. That included:

• Franklin’s First, the first commercially-produced beer in Williamson County brewed in the style of a German Kolsch.
• Morning Wood Red, a really nice hoppy, robust ale.
• Pecker Wrecker IPA, a floral and citrusy IPA that was my favorite beer at Cool Springs.
• Fatback Amber Ale, a smooth, German Altbier.
• Kilt Lifter, a strong Scottish ale with just a hint of smokiness.
• Schwarzbier, a dark ale that’s Cool Spring’s version of a black German lager.

Cool Springs Brewery - barThe brewery at Cool Springs is right up front when you walk in.

Cool Springs Brewery - insideThe atmosphere is relaxed, though the many TVs make it feel a little too much like a sports bar.

Cool Springs Brewery-inside-2Another view of the main seating area.

Cool Springs Brewery-samplerIf it’s your first time at Cool Springs, get the sampler.

Cool Springs Brewery-pizzaThe New York-style pies are really good.

Cool Springs Brewery - beer signsSome cool beer signs in the back of the restaurant.

Cool Springs Brewery - equipment-2A view of the brewery at Cool Springs.

Cool Springs Brewery - equipmentAnother view of the brewing set-up.

Cool Springs Brewery - tanksBrewing tanks.

Cool Springs Brewery - growlersGet a growler to go.

Chuck Skypeck talks bottling line, expansion for Memphis’ Ghost River Brewing

February 07, 2011 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Memphis

In 1992, brewer Chuck Skypeck c0-founded the first brewpub in Tennessee — Boscos in Germantown — with the goal of bringing good craft beer to skeptical Mid-South consumers.

Two decades after the founding of Boscos, the Germantown location is closed, but Skypeck and his partners have methodically expanded to Memphis, Little Rock, Nashville and Franklin, Tenn.

Chuck Skypeck

Chuck Skypeck, founding partner of Boscos and Ghost River Brewing, holds a prototype of Ghost River's new beer bottles.

Meanwhile, Ghost River Brewing — a beer brand founded by Skypeck & Co. in 2008 — has landed its beers on the taps of 110 bars and restaurants in the Memphis metropolitan area.

In Memphis, Boscos and Ghost River are craft beer.

Other breweries have opened — Breckinridge, Gordon Biersch — and closed, while Ghost River and Boscos have slowly carved out a niche for fresh, locally-made beer.

In 2011, Skypeck is upping the ante. Ghost River is embarking on a $750,000 expansion to double capacity at its Downtown Memphis brewery and install a bottling line that will bring Ghost River beer to even more bars and restaurants and, ultimately, area retail shelves.

Expansion plans

Ghost River’s expansion will entail improvements to just about every inch of the brewery on South Main Street.

Two 50-barrel fermentation tanks are being installed, as well as a new steam boiler, new refrigeration and a modern keg filler and cleaner. Drainage throughout the brewery is being expanded and improved.

For bottling, a 12-head filler made by an Italian company called Comac will be installed.

Ghost River’s current capacity — 2,500 barrels, or 5,000 full kegs — will double to 5,000 barrels.

On brew days, Ghost River will be doing “double brews,” brewing batches back-to-back.

Ghost River has two full-time employees and one part-time employee in the brewery. With the expansion, the company will add two to three jobs.

“We’re selling all the beer we can make, so we have to be able to make more beer before we can bottle,” Skypeck says.

Most, if not all, of the additional beer produced will be bottled — up to about 137,000 six-packs annually.  “Within about a year, we’ll probably be producing and selling that capacity, I think, but it won’t happen overnight,” he says.

Ghost River produces three beers year-round — Golden Ale, Glacial Pale Ale and Copperhead Red — plus several special and seasonal beers.

Ghost River Golden Ale

A mock-up shows the label design for the Golden Ale, Ghost River's first beer to be bottled.

For now, only the Golden Ale — a lighter beer brewed with German variety hops and malts, which is Ghost River’s most popular beer — is headed for the bottling line.

Skypeck believes Ghost River can sell all the additional capacity in Golden bottles.

The Glacial Pale Ale is Ghost River’s second-best-selling beer and would be a candidate for bottling, as would some of the seasonal beers. But bottling more than one kind of beer is more expensive and logistically difficult, and federal laws that require approval of labels and six-pack holders are additional roadblocks.

“We want to learn to walk before we learn to run, so we are focusing on one product right now. Where we go after that, we’ll figure it out,” Skypeck says.

Bars/restaurants, then retail

With Ghost River beer available on draft at more than 100 bars and restaurants, Skypeck says Ghost River is close to reaching the point of saturation when it comes to Memphis taps.

The company has targeted primarily independent, locally owned places to sell beer — businesses that actually have control over their menus and can add new beers to their offerings.

“Memphis is not a big draft beer town, and there’s a finite amount of potential sources for us to sell craft beer,” he says.

When bottling begins, Ghost River initially plans to target bars and restaurants that don’t carry draft beer as a way of introducing their product in those establishments. At bars that sell Ghost River beer on draft, but not the Golden, Ghost River plans to approach those bars about selling the Golden bottles.

After that, bottles in six-pack holders will be headed to retail shelves, but don’t expect to see Ghost River beer in your neighborhood Kroger.

“We’ll get into retail outlets — which are typically called off-premise outlets — quickly. But we’re going to be following that same route of looking for smaller, independent operators rather than large chains,” Skypeck says.

Southwestern Distributing Co. will continue handling distribution for Ghost River Brewing when bottles hit the market.

In terms of price, Ghost River is still grappling with the decision of what to charge for a six-pack.

“We don’t have control over that final price. The only thing we have control over is how much we sell it to the distributor for. The distributor will set his price, accordingly, and then the retailer will set their own prices, accordingly. So I can’t tell you how much each retailer is going to sell it for,” Skypeck says.

“There’s been a fair amount of discussion about where we want to be positioned in the market,  and we actually haven’t make that decision yet.”

Ghost River fermenation tanks

In 2011, Ghost River will double its brewing capacity.

For now, Ghost River only plans to sell bottles in the metro Memphis area — minus Arkansas, which charges a hefty sum for a license to sell packaged beer. That means folks in Jackson, Miss., Jackson, Tenn., and Nashville aren’t likely to find Ghost River beer for awhile.

“Being a smaller business and not having economies of scale, our margins are very, very tight. And selling in farther markets is less desirable simply because we have decreased margins. We have to ship the product, and we have to then support it with some level of sales and sales activity in different markets.

“We are much better off finding ways to sell that product in Memphis than worrying about being somewhere else with it.”

Memphis and craft beer

Memphis, itself, has been no easy sell when it comes to craft beer, as Skypeck has found over the years. “Memphis has never been a good craft beer market and still is a hard craft beer market,” says Skypeck, who won ribbons in the Mid-South Fair homebrew competition before homebrewing was even legal in Tennessee.

Some of that stems from demographics. “Craft beers drinkers tend to be higher than average levels of income and education, which Memphis lags behind on. And then there’s a whole lot of cultural factors involved.”

In Memphis, that includes evangelical Christians, Southern Baptists and a large African American population, which have not participated in the development of the craft beer market, he says.

“I used to think that at Boscos we were doing a pretty good job of educating people about craft beer. I’ve kind of revised that thinking,” he says. “We’ve done a real good job of preaching to the choir. People who have gotten interested for whatever reason and come to us, I think we’ve done a good job of exposing them to a lot of different things.”

In a lot of ways, he says, Memphis is still at “square one” when it comes to craft beer.

Ghost River’s beer, he says, is not nearly as aggressive as many popular craft brands across the country.

“We’re not putting out Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA or Stone’s Arrogant Bastard or things like that. But I don’t think we would be selling the volumes of beer we are if we were doing that type of product,” Skypeck says.

“I think we still are in the phase of really trying to educate consumers that it’s OK to have a beer with more flavor than Bud, Miller or Coors, but not drive them away.”

What are your thoughts on Ghost River’s expansion? Leave a comment below.