The Crafty Pint's senior writer, Will Ziebell, is in the States for the Craft Brewers Conference but is taking the opportunity to do some exploring further afield too.
With the 2023 running of the vast event taking place in Nashville, Tennessee, Will arrived a few days early to soak up some Southern hospitality, check out the honky-tonk bars, sample a few beers, and dodge the crowds flocking to see Taylor Swift in concert.
Here, in the first of his Letters From America, he tells us how he's warmed up for the conference.
Where am I?
Why am I here?
How can you travel to Music City for a beer conference and not spend a few days soaking it all in beforehand?
What have I been up to?
It’s been days of visiting breweries and nights of bands. The famed honky-tonks of Broadway are incredible, but I was keen for something off the beaten track too so spent a night at The Station Inn. It’s apparently considered one of the best places in America to watch bluegrass, which I think means it has to be the best place in the world to watch bluegrass? Is Prague putting on better bluegrass shows than Nashville?
Anyway, it’s been a major highlight so far: watching Hillary Klug play fiddle and buckdance.
What has surprised and impressed me the most?
The biggest surprise: how often I’ve been getting ID’d. The last time I had to prove I was of age in Australia was probably about five years ago in a Dan Murphys – and that’s if I’m being generous to myself. Here, you can’t order a drink without handing your ID over immediately and I don’t think I could pass for 21.
As for impressive, it’s been said a lot, but craft beer is everywhere. Even though we can now drink craft beer at a number of stadiums, at airports and on planes in Australia, there’s a next level of prevalence here.
The famous honky-tonks are covered with PBR and Budweiser signs but you can still get a tin of local pils, and a live music venue in the middle of nowhere will still pour an IPA and a bock. Also, remember hoppy brown and amber ales? People still make them here!
The beers I've enjoyed most in recent days are…
A tangerine and ginger sour from New Heights Brewing really hit the spot on a humid Nashville arvo. Smith & Lentz (pictured below), in East Nashville, appear to do a lot of things well but have a bit of a lager focus and they were tasting great. Barrique Brewing & Blending is a world class wild brewery and not to be missed too.
You can read more of Will's Letters From America here.