Another Round

Memphis Made adding taproom as local craft beer scene booms

By Amos Maki

Some time in October, lovers of local craft beers could enjoy a cold brew in a new tasting room at Memphis Made Brewing Co.’s facility in the Cooper-Young district.

Carpenters Dave Harris, left, and Eric Fields sand and stain baseboards inside what will become Memphis Made Brewing Co.’s new taproom.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Memphis Made Brewing, which launched its line of local libations last October, is adding a roughly 2,000-square-foot tasting room inside its 6,400-square-foot space at 768 S. Cooper St. In addition, Memphis Made Brewing is building a roughly 1,000-square-foot covered patio facing York Avenue.

Andy Ashby, the head of sales for the local beer maker, said the new additions, which will cost around $150,000, will allow Memphis Made Brewing to make deeper connections with beer lovers.

“The tasting room will really allow us to reach out to the community,” he said. “It will allow folks to come up here and get a pint of beer, or half pint of beer, and drink it on the premises, or they can get a growler to go. We’ll also have events so we can meet the people who like our beer.”

In addition to providing a place where people can enjoy a beer onsite, the new taproom inside the old Keathley Pie Factory building will give the public a better opportunity to understand the brewing process, Ashby said.

“You go in, see the equipment and talk to the brewers and learn about the process,” he said. “We’re really excited that when we open our taproom we’ll be bale to educate more people in Memphis about brewing and the brewing process.”

The additions come after Memphis Made Brewing doubled its production capacity. Earlier this summer, the brewery added three 30-barrel fermenters, which can each hold 930 gallons of beer.

“What it gives us now is a capacity to produce 1,500 barrels a year,” said Ashby, a former reporter at The Daily News and Memphis Business Journal and an avowed beer enthusiast. “We basically doubled our capacity in the short term we’ve been open.”

Instead of contracting with a distributor to provide its beverages to local shops and restaurants, Memphis Made Brewing took advantage of a state law that allows brewers to distribute their own beers in the counties in which they’re made.

“The tasting room will really allow us to reach out to the community. It will allow folks to come up here and get a pint of beer.”

–Andy Ashby
Head of sales

“We chose to go a different route and self-distribute,” Ashby said. “We’ve been doing a lot of the heavy lifting ourselves right out of the gate. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s also been a lot of fun.”

Memphis Made Brewing, founded by Cooper-Young residents Ashby and head brewer Drew Barton, is now offered in more than 70 bars, restaurants, grocery stores and liquor stores.

“They’re great guys and they’re making solid beer,” said Taylor James, manager of the Cash Saver store on Madison Avenue in Midtown, which includes the Memphis Growler and Bottle Shop. “When we first opened up, they were right on board with us, and I think they’re doing a great job.”

Thanks to changes in state law, liquor stores in July were able to start selling low-gravity beer, which opened up new distribution channels for Memphis Made Brewing.

“We’ve done really well with them,” said Jeff Howell, co-owner of Yorkshire Liquors on Quince Road in East Memphis.

Memphis Made Brewing has acquired a permit to sell beer in its parking lot for the annual Cooper-Young Festival Saturday, Sept. 13.

“Memphis Made Brewing is an exceptional addition to our growing lifestyle district,” said Tamara Cook, executive director of the Cooper Young Business Association. “I think it is great that people like (Ashby and Barton) decide to make their careers in the areas where they live. It only makes the community as a whole stronger. They are the perfect team to take the old Keathley Pie Factory and make it into a local brewery with taproom.”

Andy Ashby, head of sales for Memphis Made Brewing Co., stands in the build-out of the company's new taproom.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Memphis Made Brewing does not produce a year-round beer but instead focuses on seasonal beers and a wide variety of one-off, specialty brews. Since it began brewing, Memphis Made Brewing has produced 14 different varieties of beer.

“We like to keep it interesting and fun,” Ashby said. “It’s fun for the beer drinkers and it’s fun for the brewers, and the bars like it too. It’s a little more work on our part because we have to educate people every time a new beer comes out, but we don’t mind the extra work.”

The local craft-brewing scene has exploded over the last few years. High Cotton Brewing Co., Wiseacre Brewing Co. – the first local brewer to include a tasting room – and Memphis Made Brewing all opened since 2013, joining Ghost River Brewing and Boscos Restaurant and Brewing Co.

“It’s kind of funny because I think we all saw a similar opportunity and similar lack of supply in the Memphis beer market, and we all decided to go for it at the same time,” Ashby said.