Saturday, February 11, 2012

Blackstone Brewery tour and Beer School

The Blackstone beer tour was a great of fun. For those outside of Nashville, Blackstone has been in existence since '94 or so, so they are Nashville's oldest brewer still in existence. They have won many awards at the GABF and WBC, as evidenced by:

Their Porter, for instance, is the most honored porter in the country. It has won more awards than any other beer in that category...

When I got a great Groupon deal to tour their new facility (opened six months ago), I jumped at the chance. The tour (and "brew school") consisted of a 2-hour tour and tasting at their new brewing/bottling facility. 

Arriving at the facility, we were handed our 'beer goggles,' as this is a working brewery:

We were greeted by the owner of Blackstone, Kent Taylor, who informed us of the history of Blackstone and gave a nice "beer school" of the process of brewing:

The tour ended with a tasting of five of the Blackstone beers (four pictured, plus an Irish Stout):

and then finally, lunch and a sampler at the brewpub/restaurant:

Really glad I went.  And what a value...  tour and school, tastings, free sampler, four bottles to take home, and a pint glass for $10!   I didn't learn a lot that I didn't know about brewing, but I learned a lot about their actual setup and history. And also about their future, as it seems they've really set this facility up for the future. Seeing their spiffy new computer controlled mash/lauter/hops/boil/whirlpool setup made me very jealous. And their kick-butt bottling system they bought from Magic Hat pushes 100 bottles per minute (Magic Hat's replacement one pushes 400/min). I wonder if they'd let me use their equipment on the weekends... Apparently I'd only take less than a minute to bottle... 

Interesting side note...  Dave Miller, Blackstone's brewmaster for many years, used to work for Schlafly.  When Schlafly heard about this new brewery that Blackstone was setting up, they approached them about brewing Schlafly Pale for them, as they were exceeding the capacity of their brewery.  Thus, this facility also brews Schlafly Pale for distribution in kegs in this region.

Very interesting day...  Blackstone is at many points in the shadow of Yazoo (and they seem to have a chip on their shoulder about it), but they are a fine brewery who has a fine brewmaster that creates very tasty brews.  They only distribute in middle TN right now, but be on the lookout for their bottles once they expand their distribution.

EDIT:  The Lost Beers did a nice profile on Blackstone, including the publication of five of the homebrew recipes that were used to develop the Blackstone core beers.

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