The Absolute Best Breweries in Nashville
Try all these ASAP.
New restaurants and craft breweries continue to open in Nashville at an impressive rate, but unlike the dining destinations, hardly any older breweries have failed over the past decade. Perhaps brewery owners recognize the insatiable thirst for good beer exhibited by locals and visitors to town, or maybe it’s just the fact that Nashville breweries continue to make some damned fine beers. Whatever the reason, “Brewsic City” is blessed with enough great breweries that you could visit a different one every night for a month and not run out of options. You’d better get cracking.
Yazoo Brewing Company
Although it’s a bit longer of a schlep up to Madison now that Yazoo has moved from its cozy digs in the Gulch, it’s always worth the trip to sample some of Yazoo’s fantastic beers. Since 2003, Yazoo has been a favorite among both locals and in those regional cities lucky enough to be in the brewery’s distribution footprint. Old reliables like Dos Perros, Pale Ale, Hop Perfect IPA, and Sly Rye Porter are always on tap, joined by seasonal specialties. Add in the amazing sour, naturally fermented and barrel-aged offerings of Yazoo’s acclaimed “Embrace the Funk” series, and it’s obvious why it remains an industry leader.
Nashville’s oldest craft brewery is also the most award-winning operation in town. Since moving out of a brewpub on West End, Blackstone has become a juggernaut in its large production brewery. There is a cozy taproom to sample some of Blackstone’s decorated beers like St. Charles Porter, Nut Brown Ale, and Chaser Pale along with historical recipes the brewery produces for Nashville Brewing Company, Blackstone’s focus is squarely on making great beer above all else. The staff admits to being total beer nerds, and we’re all better off because of it.
Fat Bottom Brewery
From humble beginnings in a former mattress factory in East Nashville, Fat Bottom Brewing has reinvented itself as a multi-modal food, drink, and entertainment complex since moving to a much larger building in the Nations. What founder Ben Bredesen started out as a home brewer has become a regional distribution powerhouse with an in-house canning line, indoor and outdoor seating in the taproom and biergarten, and even a private event space that has shown up on the Netflix show Marriage or Mortgage. The quality of the beer has continued to improve in the new brewery, and the stalwart brands like Ruby Red American Ale, Knockout IPA, and Ida Golden Ale bring all the boys to the Hopyard.
Jackalope Brewing Company - The Ranch
The state’s first woman-founded brewery has become a guiding light for anyone looking to create a new business in the industry. Founder/brewer Bailey Spaulding has grown her business from a tiny space in SoBro into a huge indoor/outdoor tasting room and production facility in the burgeoning Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood. Even though the company is deadly serious about their product, they’re not afraid to have fun naming their tasty beers after mythical creatures and characters like Bearwalker Maple Brown Ale, Thunder Ann American Pale Ale, and Fennario IPA. Inventive seasonal brews like the fruity Lovebird and Snowman Stout offer reasons why you should keep going back to Jackalope to see what’s new on tap.
Black Abbey Brewing Company
Dedicated to the ancient abbey-style of ale brewing, Black Abbey loves to serve up history by the pint in their convivial Fellowship Hall tasting room that has become a bit of a clubhouse for craft beer lovers. Their flagship beer, The Rose, is a Belgian Blonde Ale that always keeps the brewery’s massive tanks hard at work to keep up with demand. The Special is a typical abbey ale, a fruity and chocolatey Dubbel that packs a kick with its higher alcohol level. Drink a couple of those, and you’ll be in the perfect mood for one of the brewery’s fun music-themed events where employees spin records from their personal collections of everything from heavy metal to yacht rock. Don’t miss out on Black Abbey’s rotating seasonal specials or the barrel-aged versions of the brewery’s more esoteric brews.
Tennessee Brew Works
Think of Tennessee Brew Works as the brewery version of a farm-to-table restaurant, maniacally focused on creating beers using fresh seasonal ingredients and committed to sourcing locally right down to the illustrations on their labels designed by a neighbor who runs a popular letterpress shop. Known for especially food-friendly beers, Tennessee Brew Works maintains a culinary focus with beers made using Tennessee grains, fresh fruit zests, and even earthy ingredients like beets and sweet potatoes. Closing the circle, the taproom kitchen uses their own beers in many of the dishes, including a remarkable burger that employs five different Tennessee Brew Works beers in the buns and condiments.
While they all serve a wide variety of beers plus darned respectable pizzas, each of TailGate’s brewery/taproom locations in Bellevue, Music Row, and East Nashville has an individual specialty. The Bellevue headquarters is a massive production brewery, creating huge batches of their core brands like Tenn Lager, Orange Wheat, and Peanut Butter Milk Stout. The Music Row location houses TailGate’s cidery, augmenting the beer menu with a variety of craft ciders that are drier than the sweet ciders from some national mega-breweries. In East Nashville, the taproom is home to TailGate’s sour beer program, focusing on natural fermentation and barrel-aged small-batched beers. Expect a remarkable range of products.
Southern Grist Brewing Company
When Southern Grist first opened in 2016, they were brewing on a system that was basically not much bigger than the average homebrew rig. That was plenty big enough to earn a strong following for their whimsical one-off releases, some of which were designed to mimic the flavors of cocktails, including sours and fruity beers that were easy to sip for patrons who weren’t obsessed with hops. An expansion to a larger second taproom and brew system in the Nations boosted capacity, but Southern Grist still focuses on small-batch recipes with more than 600 different releases over their short five-year history. It’s always a surprise when you check out the beer menu at Southern Grist.
East Nashville Beer Works
Their role as a neighborhood gathering spot is almost as important as the beers they brew to the staff at East Nashville Beer Works. Their child- and pet-friendly beer garden is where families gather to catch up with friends while enjoying empanadas and pizzas from the kitchen. The flagship beer at ENBW is Miro Miel Honey Blonde, a crowd-pleaser whose subtle sweetness pairs perfectly with pizza. All of the beers feature a nice balance between malt and hops that makes them eminently quaffable.
Smith & Lentz
After taking an almost direct hit from the tragic 2020 tornado that passed through East Nashville, Smith & Lentz spent most of a year rebuilding from the damage, but they came back stronger than ever. In addition to the brewery’s selection of popular IPAs and crisp pilsners, Smith & Lentz went all-in on a new pizza program including recruiting an expert chef to craft the new menu. Now pints and pies have become a mainstay of craft beer fans looking for a fun night out, whether for carryout or to enjoy in their cozy taproom or beer garden.
Bearded Iris Brewing
You can’t talk about Bearded Iris without starting with their Homestyle IPA, probably the most popular ale in Nashville. Just about every discerning restaurant beer menu in town features Homestyle and its intense hoppy citrus character that balances with the oated backbone of the brew. Definitely a home for hop-heads, Bearded Iris offers different beers that showcase individual varieties of hops for any palate. They do also offer other styles like stouts and pilsners at their Germantown brewery and new modern Sylvan Park taproom, so there’s probably something you’ll love on the menu.
It’s a family affair at New Heights with married couples running much of the operation at this popular brewery near the core of downtown. The tasting room exudes a cool industrial vibe where craft beer lovers gather to sample a range of brews from mellow and malty to intensely hoppy. Sours are also usually on the menu, but the most interesting beer New Heights brews is an imperial stout called Navel Gazer that they occasionally release as special editions like a coffee-infused version and a high alcohol double stout that rivals some wines in booziness.
Little Harpeth Brewing
No local brewery produces as many lagers as Little Harpeth, mainly because these varieties are more time-consuming and less efficient to brew. Little Harpeth’s dedication to lagers is one reason why they stand out in the crowded Nashville brewing scene, but they have other hooks to hang their hat on, too. Chicken Scratch is the brewery’s most popular beer, and it’s made using locally grown corn and the only variety of hops native to America. The resulting slightly sweet and corny pilsner is a crisp and delightfully crushable brew.
Czann's Brewing Company
After years running his brewery as basically a one-man operation hidden away among the industrial buildings of SoBro, Ken Rebman has finally stepped into the craft beer spotlight with his new brewery and taproom in a cool converted old church in the Nations. Czann’s doesn’t try to release exotic new recipes every week to cater to the whims of their fans. Instead, the brewery concentrates on just a few excellent beers, striving for a balance between malty backbone and hoppy accents. The best of the batch is Czann’s Blonde, a dry light beer that is the perfect gateway for craft-curious beer drinkers looking to transition from their previous more boring mega-brewery choices.
Harding House Brewing
Harding House is a nanobrewery, focused on brewing as an agricultural act as they create farm-to-pint beers employing local ingredients whenever possible. Seasonality is key to everything they do, releasing small batches of beers based around what is fresh in the fields. Their Joybier is a collaboration with chef Sean Brock, a delicious lager made using heirloom Jimmy Red corn, and it’s a perfect introduction to Harding House’s philosophy of business and brewing.
Crazy Gnome Brewery
Crazy Gnome was also affected by the March 2020 tornado which delayed the brewery’s opening by several months. Now that everything is back in order, Crazy Gnome has hit the ground running with a wide variety of rotating beers that demonstrate consistency and a familiarity with multiple styles of brewing. From light kolsches and sours to bitter ales and dark stouts, there’s something for everyone at Crazy Gnome.
Various Artists Brewing
One of Nashville’s newer breweries, Various Artists is a welcome addition to their primarily industrial neighborhood where residents and local workers have been seeking a spot for years where they can enjoy a pint or two and some good eats. Whether in the taproom, one of their expansive patios or the outdoor beer garden, Various Artists offers great options to get away from the hustle of the workday with a rotating offering of seasonals and a few house beers that are always on tap. The food menu focuses on smoked and grilled meats and vegetables, the perfect pairing with a nice cold beer.
Few things go together better than pizza and beer, a fact that TennFold has based its entire business model around. A damned fine pizzeria in its own right, their small brewery keeps at least a dozen different varieties on tap to accompany their pies. Crisp lagers pair nicely with a menu of smoked wings, burgers and NY-style pizzas, while more flavor-forward brews like farmhouse ales and hoppy IPAs go well with their more exotic Neapolitan pies topped with internationally-inspired ingredients such as Thai pork, figs, and country ham or pesto chicken.
Barrique Brewing And Blending
Barrique started out as a nanobrewery specializing in open fermentations of sour and fruited beers created in tiny ephemeral batches that sold out quickly. Now that they’ve moved into the much larger former Little Harpeth facility in East Nashville, Barrique has the room to ramp up production of unique brews aged in used wine barrels, some resting in oak for as long as two years. Every beer is bottled and labeled by hand for sale at the brewery and online or at restaurants and taprooms around town. Every batch is unique thanks to the vagaries of the liquid/oak interaction, so you never know what you’ll find at Barrique.
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
Although Rock Bottom is part of a national chain, every brewery location of the group also concentrates on creating local beers that are exclusive to the market. You can’t find fresher beer at a restaurant than one which is served directly from the tank to your table, and Rock Bottom’s lagers, porters, and stouts pair nicely with their food menu of elevated bar fare. Add in one of the best views of Lower Broad from their rooftop deck, and you’ll see why this is such a popular destination from tourists and locals alike.
Yee-Haw’s Sixth & Peabody campus is your one-stop entertainment destination, just far enough from the craziness of Broadway to serve as a bit of an oasis. Not to say that there’s not plenty of fun to be had with their moonshine tasting room, large interior space with huge televisions for sports watching, and a massive outdoor beer garden for lounging or playing cornhole or ping pong. Yee-Haw produces a solid area of core beers like their flagship dunkel, pale ale, or IPA along with a crisp Mexican lager and rotating seasonal specials. For a perfect fall afternoon, grab some grub from White Duck Tacos and settle down with a pint while you watch your favorite team on the massive screens.