I went to the 1st annual Southern Brewers Conference #SBC2016 in Nashville, TN a few weeks ago.
I’ve been to Nashville a couple of times before and when I saw that the South East was hosting a beer conference there, I knew I wanted to attend. I got to Nashville on Wednesday afternoon, threw my bags in the hotel room, and then headed out to find some local craft. Hope you’re ready to hear a lot about Breweries, the Southern Brewers Conference, and Nashville…
The shuttle dropped me off near Broadway, which is the downtown strip for music, food, tourism, and shopping. I popped into the Brewhouse Downtown (a local bar with a huge draft wall) and had a quick bite and grabbed a Bearwalker Brown Ale from the local Jackalope Brewing Company. After that, I went over to the Music City Center where the SBC was being held all week. During check-in, I received a gift bag which came with a tall boy canned IPA called Big Juicy Dank. Damn, beer conferences are cool.
The rest of the evening I hopped around to a couple of breweries. Starting with Czann’s (pronounced Zann’s) Brewing and ending at Tennessee Brew Works. Czann’s was a chill brewery with a cool, laid-back tasting room and big corner bar. I grabbed a flight and enjoyed what they had on tap, my favorite being the Pale Ale. Next stop was Tennessee Brew Works! The front patio is great, offering staggered levels leading up into the brewery, and long high tables stretching the length of the patio. Once I entered, I noticed a band was playing and a friendly server got me a flight of beer in no time. I enjoyed the beer and my time at Tennessee Brew Works on the patio and watched as other brewers and brewery employees from around the South East flowed in.
The next morning came early after having several pints the night before.
However, I didn’t want to miss the keynote address at 8:30am lead by Spike Buckowski, Co-Owner of Terrapin out of Athens, GA (a long time favorite brewery of mine). Spike’s speech was good and the rest of the audience agreed, as I spoke with different people afterward on the subject. The trade show was about to begin and classes would soon start at 10:30. I didn’t want to miss the first class, “Selling Craft Beer in the Nascar Nation.” For several years, I was an alcohol sales rep for a distributor and I was very familiar with the challenges this topic faced.
The classes at the Southern Brewers Conference were very informative. Every class was different and all the presenters for the classes I was able to attend were well informed. Some classes had panels of presenters with a few different people from various areas of the craft industry. I thought that was a very informative way to get several different perspectives on the same topic at once. Some classes were more fun and lighthearted, while others were more direct and matter-of-fact. Each angle had its purpose and was used well. You can find the full schedule of classes here.
After the first day of classes, I went to the conference recommended gathering at Little Harpeth Brewing Company.
The brewery is located in an industrial park on the east side of the Cumberland River that runs through Nashville. This brewery really sticks with the industrial look for the tasting room which is set up in the middle of the production area. Breweries that have this layout are unique because you are actually surrounded by the brewery. The equipment and pallets of cans are all around you and that makes you realize the hard work that goes into each can. Also, they have a great view out the back of the brewery where you can sit and sip beer (mine was their Chicken Scratch Pilsner) while you gaze across the industrial area across the river leading up to the Nashville skyline.
The next day of classes was equally as engaging. In the morning, I attended classes on social media marketing and how to stand out as a brewery with your distributor. During lunch I checked out the trade show and made a lot of contacts with vendors, from brewing equipment companies to beer software, all of which I’m sure will be very helpful as I continue to set up the brewery for opening. The first class in the afternoon was a Family Feud type scenario of suppliers vs distributors; both sides were competing for the most outrageous story from our always interesting line of work. The last class I attended was on public relations, and I’m glad it rounded out the conference with direct and very concise direction on how to engage with the media.
The conference may have been officially over, but I still had a couple more local breweries to check out; Jackalope Brewing Co. and Yazoo Brewing Co.
Both of whom were very involved in the Southern Brewers Conference and presented during classes. Jackalope has a low key vibe, vintage chairs, and couch-lined walls, with high top tables running down the main portion of the tasting room. There is also just about every type of game you’d want to play scattered around the brewery. Also, if you search long enough you’ll probably find a Jackalope somewhere (or maybe that was the Barrel Aged Bearwalker memory). Yazoo was next on the list, and it was sort of fitting to end at the oldest brewery in Nashville. The atmosphere was chill and the beer was good. The last beer I had there was a collaboration brewed with Terrapin. It was a great way to wind down from the festivities of the conference.
Saturday morning came too soon, and it was time to load up and head back to Atlanta and the real world. The real world doesn’t consist of that many days of good beer, good people and learning about beer 24/7. Before leaving Nashville though, I did grab breakfast at a place called The Garden Brunch Café. If you are in the area and want to get a damn good breakfast, then head their way. Can’t wait for SBC2017! Thank you to all the event coordinators and vendors that made the Southern Brewers Conference possible. Hopefully, next year we have an equally interesting & crafty city to attend and explore. To learn more about the SBC click here.
– Learn Up, SlyePup