Saturday, March 22, 2014

Music City Saturday: East to South

Nashville, TN

Music City, USA. This was my first visit here and everyone who told me I would love it was right. On our first night, my old friend Kenny took us down to a part of town called The Gulch for some decent food at The Pub and then we lost our minds down in The District. The dense blocks of Honkey Tonks on Broadway reminded me a lot of Bourbon Street, what with all the great music, neon lights, drunk idiots (see below), and general free-for-all atmosphere. We definitely saw a handful of good, local beers on tap here and there, but this part of town is all about the cheap macro-lager and whiskey. I skipped the Jack Daniels, but drank a considerable number of High Life bottles. Kenny and Chris more than kept pace and before long, we ended up outside of Tootsie's World Famous Orchid Lounge:

As we hiked back to our Vanderbilt University-area hotel at 3am, past car dealerships and derelicts, I wondered how we would feel when we began our long beer hike in less than 12 hours...

Music City Saturday: East to South
The Pharmacy - Fat Bottom - Corsair Taproom - Hops & Crafts - Jackalope - Craft Brewed - 12 South; almost 8.5 mi.

View Music City Saturday: East to South in a larger map

To my delight, I felt fine the next morning and woke up determined to plan the best route I could with only one day to spend in Nashville. This is what I came up with:

The Plan (always subject to change)

As you can sort of see, I usually budget 45 minutes to an hour per place -- plenty of time to drink a taster tray or a pint and maybe an additional schooner. As for the hiking, I use the 3-mile-per-hour rule of thumb, even though I tend to walk faster than that. And I always round up to the next 15 minutes. It's also crucial to know where you're going (especially when hiking in the dark, in an unfamiliar city) and what time places open and close. We did this hike on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, beginning at The Pharmacy around 1:30pm. Our only constraint was that we had to get to Jackalope Brewing by 7:15pm (they close at 8 on Saturdays.) It worked out perfectly.  DISCLAIMER: There are many other beer and food joints in Nashville that we wanted to check out, but just didn't have the time. Apologies if your favorite wasn't included on the hike/I hope to visit next time/please don't send hate mail/etc. End of lecture.
1. The Pharmacy
Very popular food, beer, and craft soda restaurant in East Nashville. It was packed when Chris and I arrived around 1:30pm and the list to get a table was long. (Kenny was still at the hotel, having a little trouble getting his engine started after the previous night's silliness.) We usually prefer to sit at the bar anyway, but even that appeared to be full. We walked around the back, however, and spotted two empty stools. Before long we had burgers and beers in hand and the hike had begun. There is lots more seating and a small bar in the beer garden, but I don't think you can get food out there.

The Pharmacy Cream Soda made me cream my shorts. The Black Abbey Fortress was good, too.

2. Fat Bottom Brewing
Less than a mile from The Phamacy, this brewery offered a pretty standard line up, but the beer was good. I appreciated the good humored decor and the large patio out back is perfect for a warm sunny day. I was particularly enamored with the pinup girl logos like this one:

More of these beauties here.

3. Corsair Tap Room & Distillery
After about an hour's hike west, over the Cumberland River and past the State Capitol building, we arrived at the old Marathon Motor Works factory. This is a very unique space you could probably spend all day exploring. It has event space, shops, a museum, a distillery, and a tap room. Good selection on the tap list, but be careful because the distillery is just steps away. It would have been cool to try some Hopmonster whiskey, but you have to take the tour to do so and we didn't have time.

 4. Hops + Crafts
A very new addition to the Nashville beer scene and they are already beating the crowds away. We actually went here both nights of our visit and both nights it was very busy. That being said, we still got very personal and relaxed service both nights. Well done. Bring stickers from your favorite local brewery to put on their wall map:

5. Jackalope Brewing Co.
Several bartenders told us that this is their favorite local beer so we made it a priority to get here before they closed at 8pm. Take in all the unique decor, chat with the locals, and do like Chris did: grab a cold six pack for the road.

The elusive Jackalope
Unique decor
 5a. Yazoo Brewing Company
Yazoo is right near Jackalope, but they close at 6 on Saturdays, so we missed our chance. It would have been cool to visit -- I had some of their beers elsewhere and liked them.

6. Craft Brewed
High gravity beer/wine/liquor shop on one side, low gravity taproom on the other. Unfortunately you can't drink while you shop, so do that first then go next door and get a pint.

...Shit. I didn't take any pictures at Craft Brewed. My shitty iPhone was probably on the fritz. Instead, here's an earlier picture of Kenny, just after an impromptu rest stop between some trailers:

7. 12 South Taproom
Not originally on our route, but we were feeling good at the end of the hike and it's right by where we ate (the terrific Edley's BBQ), so fuck it. Glad we stopped in, too. This place was great. A large outdoor area makes for a good place to drink in the warm months. Next time I'm beer hiking in Nashville, I'll probably start here and get a better sense of the place in the daylight.

That's about it for the Nashville UBH. Thanks to Kenny for leading us around and being a good sport through what must have been a mean hangover from the night before. I'm excited to visit again some day. We left a bunch of places off the list this time and I think there are a couple more good hikes to do here.

Here's some more pictures from the day: 


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