First, it was Tennessee whiskey. Then it was wine. Now, craft breweries are popping up all over southern, middle Tennessee.
It all started in 2011 with Ole Shed Brewing Company in Tullahoma. Tired of “unassuming domestic lagers,” two friends and former co-workers, Mike Thornburg and Mike Ramsey, decided to launch a boutique, local brewery complete with a charming taproom. Delicious hand-crafted, artisan ales, and a passionate community support followed.
Then, John Porter founded Asgard Brewing Company in Columbia in October 2016. The brewery focuses on small, experimental batches made with a long list of natural and locally sourced ingredients.
A couple of years later, Zach Fox and Todd Rode of Bad Idea Brewing added a second brewery in the former “Mule Capital of the World” in the Columbia Arts District. They pride themselves on a “grain to glass” approach to the art of small-batch craft beers.
Just last year, Common John Brewery popped up in Manchester and quickly became the darling of the local craft beer scene thanks in no small part to their lively taproom, which features not only live music but also occasionally hosts its own onsite podcast, The Everyday Joe Show. Owner LeBron Haggard says it’s a place to combine his love of brewing beer with the love of his community.
Now, two newcomers – Common Law Brewing Company in Spring Hill and Twisted Copper Brewing Company in Mount Pleasant – will join the whiskey, wine, and brews scene here in southern, middle Tennessee in 2021.
Uncommon brewing ideas at Common Law Brewing Company
Common Law Brewing Company owners Brad Eldridge-Smith and Mark Valencia say they have just one goal for their soon-to-be-opened brewery: to bring true craft beer to Spring Hill. Remarkably the bustling city of just over 45,000 residents has no locally-made beer options.
“When I first moved to Spring Hill from Nashville, I immediately realized that having a brewery close by is something that I missed. There is great beer in Columbia, Franklin, and Nashville, but they are all 30 minutes or so away,” said Brad. “We want people to have something close by that they can run into for a quick beer or where they can spend an evening. We hear a lot of complaints that Spring Hill is just a bedroom community with nothing to do. We plan to change that.”
In their homebrewing sessions the two often just tossed random ingredients into the kettle to see what might happen. The two say as they’ve evolved from hobbyists to brainstorming a bricks-and-mortar brewery keeping the fun in beer-making remains a priority.
“One of the most important conversations we had when the idea for Common Law was being formed was that it needed to stay fun for us to really be interested in making a go at it. Because of this, we plan to run the brewery in much the same way we do our current homebrewing. This involves experimenting with unique ingredients and processes,” Brad says. “It also involves having some fun with our naming and marketing. We have a long and storied history of adding fruit, cereal, candy, spices, and other non-traditional ingredients to beer. This isn’t going to stop just because we enter the commercial space.”
One example of this “fun” approach is their Brut IPA made with Zinfandel grapes. Normally, a Brut IPA is moderately hopped with a dry finish. The addition of what’s basically grape juice will give the beer a light purple, dry finishing, beer-wine hybrid with some great grape flavors, and a hoppy finish.
The second experimental beer the two are currently working on is a traditionally German gose that the duo have taken to a new place by adding sweet curry powder, coconut, and lime zest.
“The beer has a distinct island vibe, but the addition of the curry gives it a complementary flavor that is really unique,” Brad says.
They also plan to maintain a laser focus on incorporating other local producers and makers into their beer-making process.
“Our barrel-aged stout, Rule Against Perpetuities, was aged in a barrel from H. Clark Distillery in Thompson’s Station. Our cream ale, T.C.A, features stone-ground grits from Beaverdam Creek Farm in Centerville. We’ve used honey from Early’s and coffee from Fainting Goat in numerous beers. We are always looking for new ways to get something local into our beers,” explains Brad.
Brad and Mark say they want that local fun idea to translate into their soon-to-be-opened taproom. The interior will reflect an industrial chic feel with lots of stainless steel, barrel wood, concrete, and tile.
“We want Common Law to be a cool place to hang out, but we aren’t a sports bar,” says Brad.
“We want a great atmosphere, but we also want people to have the feel that they are sitting where the beer is actually manufactured. We are working with a local furniture company to design our tables and bar. We also have a local concrete artisan doing the design for our bar top. We have a couple of eye-catching design elements that will help pull the whole space together.”
The taproom isn’t set to open until summer or fall of this year but that doesn’t mean that you can’t give them a taste ahead of time. They maintain a robust mailing list and draw names from it each time they create a new release. They also say as they get closer to their opening date, they hope to be available on draft at restaurants throughout southern, middle Tennessee.
To join their mailing list head on over to their website (http://commonlaw.beer) or follow them on Facebook for regular updates on festivals or charity events where Common Law beers might be available.
Twisted Copper part of Mount Pleasant Renaissance It might surprise you to know that historic, downtown Mount Pleasant now exists as quite the small business destination. The charming downtown area is experiencing a Renaissance complete with a community theatre, local restaurants, a coffee shop, and soon, its very own brewery, Twisted Copper Brewing Company. In Fall 2021, they’ll be moving into a recently renovated multi-use building in Mount Pleasant’s Main Street within walking distance of a restaurant, an antique store, a custom guitar shop, and a museum of Mt. Pleasant’s history. Their origin story mirrors so many others drawn to the craft beer world. A group of friends got together and decided to make the kinds of beers they wanted to drink but could not find in the market. In this case, there are six friends, all with a unique interest in different parts of the process.
“Brewing will be handled by Dave Weaverling and Jon Hatcher. You could likely see Heather McDowell, Brett McDavid, Aaron Caplan, or Ian Nicholson behind the bar with me or tending to other brewery-related activity,” says Forrest Cheney, who plans to act as taproom manager at the new space.
When we ask about their name, Twisted Copper, it’s a long but endearing story. Basically, the brewing idea started in 2013 with two neighbors – Jon and Forrest – making homebrew kits in John’s kitchen. It didn’t take them long to outgrow the space and need new equipment.
“We wanted to buy a piece of equipment called a wort chiller – wort being the hoppy, sugar rich liquid you ferment beer from,” says Forrest. “We looked at pictures of these chillers on brewing supply websites and thought ‘well how hard could that be to make?’ so Dave goes to the hardware store and buys the copper pipe and the fittings needed to make a wort chiller at home.”
Forrest says the finished product didn’t look anything like the pictures in the brewing equipment catalogs but it did its job.
“His looked more like a modern art sculpture and we adoringly nicknamed his creation, Dave’s Art,” explains Forrest. “Eventually we splurged and spent the money on a professionally made chiller but when we started getting serious about opening a brewery, we wanted something personal as our name that reflected who we are as a group. Twisted Copper was suggested as a joke at first but we quickly realized that there was no other name we could possibly want.”
Once in their new home located at 115 Main Street, the Twisted Copper crew will serve hand-crafted pours like their Dark Chocolate Stout, Pistachio Nut Brown Ale, and Seasonal Sweet Potato Ale. To view a full sample menu, click here.
Forrest says their new Mount Pleasant home won’t just be a place to make beer. It's a place where they can create a space for the community.
To learn more about Common Law Brewing Company or Twisted Copper Brewing Company check out their Facebook or Instagram pages. You can also learn more at their websites. To keep up with all the news and events surrounding distilleries, wineries, and breweries in southern, middle Tennessee be sure to check out the Whiskey, Wines, and Brews page at experieincetn.com.
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