TN - Craft beer pours out from Franklin's Cool Springs Brewery
Brewmaster Derrick Morse wants Cool Springs to one day be known as much for his handmade, high-gravity beers as it is today for mall traffic and chain stores.
That shift could start later this month when the Cool Springs Brewery makes its pitch to broaden the pallettes of Nashville beer nerds as the microbrewery's high-gravity, higher alcohol content beers hit liquour store shelves for the first time.
After those first four high-gravity beers are launched, Morse has an array of barrel-aged sour beers beers made with wild yeast strains and quite popular in Europe that he'll next unveil in bottles later this year.
A Boulder, Colo. transplant and former marketing executive-turned-home brewer, Morse said the brewpub won't go toe-to-toe or tap to tap with the more established local craft brewers like Yazoo or Blackstone.
Instead, Cool Springs Brewery will chase a niche: Beer lovers craving hard-to-find flavors among Nashville's brewing landscape.
As Nashville beer lovers become more discerning, Morse, 33, is betting his nontraditional brewing style and unusual flavors will find Nashville beer snobs.
"(The Nashville market) is so saturated right now," said Morse. "There's a hole that we're able to fill with our particular brewing style and our uniqueness and the way that we handle our company. ... The techniques we utilize here are different."
The arrival of Cool Springs Brewery's beers on stores shelves comes as craft brewers continue to tap into Nashville seemingly bottomless keg of local brewers. The new brewing arrivals include Czann's Brewing Co., HonkyTonk Brewing Co., Black Abbey Brewing Co. and Little Harpeth Brewing, among others.
Back in 2009, there wasn't such a buzz about local brewing. In 2009, Cool Springs Brewery owners Chris and Jane Hartland bought the former Guido's Restaurant in Cool Springs and made it the first licensed and locally owned microbrewery in Williamson County. They later renamed it Cool Springs Brewery.
Morse's arrival as brewmaster two years ago first prompted talk of bottling their beers, said Jane Hartland, brewery co-owner. To cut their overhead, Morse and co-owner Chris Hartland are building their own bottling machine and believe the brewpub's tanks can meet demand in the restaurant and in Nashville stores. Cool Springs Brewery's brews will only be sold at first to about 10 to 12 stores.
As far as sales go, no one can predcit yet what to expect since locally brewed high-gravity beers are scarce.
"It's definitely going to be an advantage for us," said Jane Hartland. "Hopefully it will pave the way for us to expand further in the future."
Morse believes its younger, successful beer fans who will taste his beers and spend as much as $18 per 22-ounce glass "bomber."
"As the Gen Xers and the millenials get to the good parts of their careers, they're spending money," Morse said. "They don't want to spend money on the things that their parents spent money on."
With so much brewing competition, a unique taste and approach is the crucial difference between a success or falling flat.
"Beer nerds want what they can't get," said Chip DeVier, owner of Craft Brewed bottle shop and tap room on Franklin Pike in Nashville. "People want the unique, the rare, the harder to stuff to get. That's going to work to their advantage."
The choice to bottle only the high-gravity, higher alcohol beers will put Morse's beers in front of their intended audience, said Brian Odencrantz, high-gravity beer and spirits manager at beverage distributor Ajax Turner Co. Inc.
"People who go to liquor stores for beer, they're not looking for the Budweisers of the world," Odencrantz said.
But how to get around the connotation that Cool Springs isn't craft beer haven? They're selling the bottled beers under the name "CSB".
If Morse has his way, people will associate CSB with good beer.
"I know what I like to see when I walk into a store," Morse said. "We never put anything on tap that I wouldn't sit on the other side of the bar and enjoy myself."
Reach Kevin Walters at (615) 771-5472 or on Twitter @thekevinwalters.
ABOUT HIGH-GRAVITY BEER
While Gov. Bill Haslam formally signed legislation this week allowing grocery stores to sell wine starting in 2016, the higher alcohol content "high-gravity" beer will remain available in liquor stores only.
In Tennessee, any beer containing more than 6.25 percent Alcohol By Volume is called "high gravity." Any beer with less than 6.25 percent ABV is called "low gravity" and cannot be sold in a liquor store. Low gravity beer must be sold in grocery stores or convenience stores.
The bottles of CSB beers will have a soft release later this month and an official release April 5 at the East Nashville Beer Festival at East Park, 700 Woodland Street, Nashville. CSB beers can be found in stores starting April 14.