It’s almost funny to announce an opening of Crafty Bastard. Founders Aaron McClain, who handles the brewing, Jen Parker, who handles publicity and social media, have been ever-present at various beer events around the city for some time. Long-time home-brewers, many local beer lovers have enjoyed their various quirky concoctions for some time. The name of the brewery – one that tends to stick with a person and raised an eye-brow or two in Nashville with state regulators – seems to be a fixture on the local beer scene.
Even the new brick and mortar home at 6 Emory Place has been a hub of various kinds of activity already and is open as a tap room Wednesday through Saturday from 4:00 PM to Midnight. It was the scene of general raucous fun during the Emory Place Block Party. Nights already have a theme: adult coloring book night (Wed.), runner’s night (Thurs.), vinyl night (Friday) and Trivia night (Sat.) With all that and a regular rotation of food trucks, what does it mean to open?
What it means is that the brewery has finally gotten all the necessary clearances to do what it set out to do: brew beer. They are now making their own and should have several of their own creations on tap soon – which is when they will officially open as a brewery. The target date is October 22 and they are optimistic. At that point, they will likely be open six to seven days a week.
Jen told me that opening early as a tap room has given them a chance to get to know their community and they really do want to have a neighborhood appeal. Their location perfectly suits them to do so, with the Fourth and Gill neighborhood just across the street. But they are really anxious to brew and serve up their own beverages which she describes as “experimental and quirky,” adding “we like pushing the edge and challenging what makes a beer.”
Their specialty will be IPAs, featuring their flagship Hop Candy IPA, which, with it’s citrus highlights has already proven to be a crowd favorite. You’ll also find Tessellation IPA (which tips you off that Aaron was a math teacher, though he insists his friend Jerry came up with the name), a Salted Caramel Coffee Porter, Knoxville Pride English Bitter, Hawaiian BBQ Smoked Pale Ale and more. You’ll find a more extensive list and detailed descriptions on their webpage. She also mentioned a Chocolate Coffee Porter made with Three Bears Coffee which gives it a good start in my book.
They plan to have eight of their own beers for the opening. Utilizing a three barrel system, at one hundred gallons a barrel, they don’t anticipate having enough beer for any type of distribution at first. Which is fine, because as Jen puts it, this gives them “complete quality control from brewing to serving,” which is a good thing as their product is introduced to a wider range of patrons.
They’ve already had a good response to their space with people liking the extremely casual vibe they’ve established inside their industrial-styled space. Children and dogs may be found wandering about at any given time and both are welcome. They currently offer non-alcoholic options and will continue to do so. They make a spicy ginger ale, for example, which was inspired by a visit to another brewery. Once open, most taps will be for their own beer, but they will likely maintain a couple of guest taps.
Their original intention was to open in early summer, but inevitable complications slowed them down a bit. The name issue, for example, had to be worked through at the state level. The sign permitting was more complicated to navigate than anticipated. The state also maintains a 300 foot restricted zone for such businesses in relation to churches. At 291 feet from their door to the fellowship hall of St. John’s Lutheran Church if you fly over buildings, that had to be resolved.
Aaron, who has been home-brewing for about five years, says they can produce about 45 barrels or 1500 gallons a month. A former math teacher at Austin-East High School, he wanted to be a part of the local beer community. Being a purveyor of other people’s beer is fine, he said, but “having a brewery and sharing your art and craft with others is very special.”
The early stages fell together very naturally for him. He happened to have a conversation with a guy named Ron Duncan in the beer aisle at McScrooges and Ron invited him to join a group of friends who met for “bottle shares.” Through that small group, Aaron would find his investor, his architect and the person responsible for finding him a free cooler. Jen was a natural at marketing and social media, so that was covered. Lots of other friends supported them either with labor or financial support. There’s also been a lot of very frugal living, using what he’d saved from his teaching job, which he left in May of 2014.
So, he’s looking forward to being a part of the neighborhood and a part of more festivals, now that he’ll have the product to do so. They’ve been surprised at the number of international guests they’ve somehow attracted and love to hear other languages spoken and to see a blend of all sorts of people. They plan to host events (like the bottle share pictured here), including First Friday events. Photographs by Cat Griffith currently adorn the walls and they’ll continue with a rotation of artists.
So, check them out on October 22, to get a real flavor of what they are up to. You can follow them and give them a “like” on Facebook and for the full scoop, check out their web page.