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VOL. 130 | NO. 76 | Monday, April 20, 2015

 

Memphis Made Brewing Quickly Becomes Local Mainstay

By Madeline Faber

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“I think we’re maybe a little rougher around the edges,” said Andy Ashby of his Cooper-Young brewery Memphis Made Brewing Co. “We’re really a do-it-ourselves, DIY kind of place.”

Ashby, co-founder and account manager, and Drew Barton, co-founder and head brewer, opened Memphis Made in October 2013.

The idea had been brewing for a while with Barton returning to Memphis from his job as head brewer at French Broad Brewery in Asheville, N.C. Ashby, a self-proclaimed “reformed journalist”, was working for Memphis Business Journal at the time.

Memphis Made Brewing Co. head brewer and co-founder Drew Barton stirs a vat of wort on its way to becoming a batch of Lucid Kolsch, one of the company’s year-round offerings. 

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Due to his experience writing for American Brewer magazine and Southern Brew News, Ashby pinpointed that Memphis was ready for another craft beer producer.

“I saw the growth of the industry. In Memphis, people hadn’t figured out this could be a big thing, and we’re still an underserved market for local craft beer,” Ashby said. “We’re getting to be on the ground floor and develop it one pint glass at a time.”

Memphis Made serves around 100 accounts in Shelby County from bars to restaurants to growler stations. According to Tennessee law, a brewery can self-distribute within its home base. Being a self-distributer contributes to Memphis Made’s DIY ethic: They control every aspect of their growth while keeping intimate connections with Memphis establishments. It could be growing faster, but Ashby is content with the pace of being a small brewery for the time being.

Memphis Made brews two to three times a week in their brew house, which is made up of four 10-barrel fermenters (each with a volume of 310 gallons) and three 30-barrel fermenters (each with a volume of 930 gallons). The larger fermenters were added mid-last year to accommodate the mainstay, Lucid Kolsch, and seasonal beers like RockBone IPA and Plaid Attack Scottish ale. The smaller units hold the “one-off” limited beers.

Among those limited beers is Luke McLuke. It’s a “thoroughbred American pale ale” named for the award-winning racehorse of John Schorr, one of the original owners of the Tennessee Brewery. This limited-release beer is served exclusively at the beer garden during the Tennessee Brewery: The Revival, which runs through May 31. Ashby describes the beer as accessible yet hoppy.

Luke McLuke’s alcohol content is 6.2 percent alcohol by volume, which is right at Tennessee’s legal limit. A state law passed last year will raise the limits on high-alcohol beers when it goes into effect in 2017. Ashby is looking forward to increasing his offerings and brewing different styles of beer when the new law reaches Memphis Made.

“We’re getting to be on the ground floor and develop it one pint glass at a time.”

–Andy Ashby
Memphis Made Brewing Co. co-founder

Memphis Made’s taproom opened in November, and this month those hours are expanding. Every Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Memphians can be one of the first to taste a new batch of brew. On April 25, the tap room will open regularly on Saturday with a fanfare event called Hopped. The free spring festival kicks off at noon with performances by the Mighty Souls Brass Band, Goner Records artists and the New Ballet Ensemble and School. Special limited edition brews will be served.

The brew house and tap room is located at 768 S. Cooper St. right next to the I Love Memphis mural, which speaks to Memphis Made’s devotion to keeping it local. They’ve partnered with several local businesses – some of which, like Signworks, are neighbors.

Bluff City Sports across Cooper makes the iconic “When you’re bad, you get put in the corner” T-shirts pointing to Memphis’ fringe location on the Tennessee map. Young Avenue Glassworks helped make the taproom’s hanging growler lampshades, and Reverb Coffee Co. partnered to make a coffee-infused Reverberation Stout.

“If we need anything, we look first in the neighborhood, then Cooper-Young, then Midtown, then Memphis, then Shelby County. If we can’t find it, then we go online,” Ashby said.

“We’re all blessed to be in different neighborhoods,” Ashby said of Memphis’ fleet of craft brewers. “Ghost River is Downtown. High Cotton is in the Edge, which will help that area develop. Wiseacre’s been a big catalyst to Broad, and we’re in Cooper-Young, but I think we’re different in that Cooper-Young is different.”

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