Nashville is becoming a better place for beer-drinkers, that’s according to a new study out, that Music City is cracking the top list for micro-breweries.
So when I saw this new study by Smart Asset, I thought it would be a good excuse to sit down with #BossBabe CEO, Bailey Spaulding of Jackalope Brewery.
Nashville has all the makings of a beer town, tourism, southern hospitality and live music…yet in the past, it still hasn’t been a go-to place for breweries. “I was very surprised,” says Bailey Spaulding, the CEO of Jackalope Brewery. “Nashville or Tennessee in general has always been a little behind the 8-ball in beer.”
So when Spaulding wanted to start a craft brewery, Nashville wasn’t the obvious choice. “Nashville kind of had everything you need or what you look for in a craft beer town, we just didn’t have craft beer yet.” But that’s exactly why Spaulding decided to take the plunge. “There wasn’t a lot of craft beer here at that point in time, seems like something I can help with,” says Spaulding.
Spaulding started making her own beer 7 years ago while she was in school at Vanderbilt University. Then she opened up Jackalope Brewery on 8th Avenue, following in the path of long-time breweries, Yazoo and Blackstone. Things weren’t easy, though, Tennessee has some of the highest-taxed beer in the country. Until January of 2017, strict regulations made it especially tough on brewers. “A year ago the ABV regulations changed,” says Spaulding. “So until January 2017 craft breweries could only brew up to 6.2 percent alcohol with a beer license, which is extremely low, one of the lowest in the country.”
Now beer can contain up to 10.1 percent alcohol, which is why Spaulding says we will start seeing more and more breweries popping up. “It was like, there would be years and years go by between breweries opening, and now since we’ve opened there have been 20 more breweries in Tennessee,” says Spaulding.
Now, there are 22 micro-breweries in Nashville, landing it the 23rd spot in the best places for breweries, according to a study by financial website, Smart Asset. But, there’s still plenty of room to grow.
As for Jackalope Brewery, that’s exactly what they’re doing: Growing. They plan to open a second location this year in the Wedgewood Houston neighborhood. Last year, they posted a 19% growth rate in distribution alone. Their tap room saw 48% in growth. “We’ve basically grown a thousand barrels every year we’ve been open. Right now it’s just trying to keep up and make all the beer that we need to,” says Spaulding.
As long as people continue to flock to Nashville, there’s no doubt the beer at Jackalope will continue to flow.
Asheville, North Carolina, not surprisingly, came in as the top place for breweries, followed by Portland, Maine, Duluth, Minnesota, Cincinnati and Austin, Texas. To see the full study, click here.
The National Craft Brewers Conference will take place in Nashville, another sign of growth in the beer community in Music City.
If you’re a craft-beer lover, check out these other awesome Nashville/Middle Tennessee spots!