“Welcome to the brewery!” smiles founder of Tennessee Brew Works, Christian Spears, before warning his team of craft beer brewers, “You guys are on camera!”
“So, this is one of the things that sets us apart,” Spears exclaims, “this is our mash filter. Also, we have Andy, that sets us apart… Hey Andy! So we’re able to actually take our grains and hammer them into a fine flour and the beauty of that is we’re able to get a lot more surface area when we mash in our mix with the water.”
That special filter, originating from Belgium, gives Tennessee Brew Works about 99 percent grain utilization as opposed to about 85 percent from standard mashing practices.
“When we first started as a brewery, there weren’t a lot of other people doing it, so we were proud of what we were making but we really didn’t stop there,” explains Spears. “Every year we’ve gotten better and learned a lot more and we’ve developed as a brewery.”
That evolution of the local craft beer scene keeps Spears on his toes.
“I feel like every brewery is doing something unique,” he admires. “I think that if given the opportunity you should go to each one of the breweries. Everybody’s doing something different.”
Case in point being Tennessee Brew Works super popular IPA.
“Hippies and Cowboys IPA,” Spears says as he pours a glass. “Paying a little recognition to that once a year when everyone comes to town for Bonnaroo and the whole town turns into a bunch of hippies and once a year everyone comes to town for CMA’s and everyone thinks they’re a cowboy!”
But Spears also stays true to timeless classics, like the State Park Blonde Ale, which is an ode to Tennessee State Parks.
“Drink beer and give back,” smiles Spears. “It’s our State Park Blonde Ale made with 100 percent Tennessee grains and a portion of the proceeds from this beer go to our Tennessee State Parks Conservancy.”
Because beer and nature pretty much go hand in hand, no matter where in the world you’re from.
“People are moving from California, they’re moving from New England, they’re moving from Illinois and Wisconsin and they’re bringing with them those things that they seek there,” Spears remarks. “So as a result, those things that were important five years ago have seen a change every so often and the brew team loves that cause they love experimenting and trying new things.”