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VOL. 132 | NO. 18 | Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Brewers Applaud Tennessee Law Change on High-Gravity Beer

By Andy Meek

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In the wake of a Tennessee law that went into effect Jan. 1 that opens up several new styles of beer for local breweries to take advantage of, Memphis Made Brewing Co. put together a slumber party.

Memphis Made Brewing Co.’s Andy Ashby with their new high-gravity imperial stout called Slumber Party, which was recently released to the public. 

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Actually, make that a Slumber Party. That’s the name of a new drink the brewer has released – an imperial stout that clocks in at 9 percent alcohol by volume.

It’s the first of several so-called high-gravity beers Memphis Made plans to release this year.

The brewer is able to do so thanks to the state law raising the level of high-gravity beer in the state from 6.2 percent to 10.1 percent.

Memphis Made is also taking advantage of the opportunity to produce more brews by keeping its Cooper-Young taproom open longer. The taproom is currently open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but in February Memphis Made will open its back bar on Mondays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Mondays and Thursdays will have a more intimate setting, said Memphis-Made co-owner Andy Ashby, with only the back bar open for service.

Memphis Made Brewing Co.’s Slumber Party, an imperial stout, is 9 percent alcohol by volume.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

His and other brewers have lots of reasons to raise a glass at the moment. Ashby said the law change will, among other things, “help make Memphis a better beer market.”

“In addition to more local breweries being able to brew higher-gravity beers, some retailers will be able to carry beers they couldn’t have in the past,” he said. “It also means some breweries outside Tennessee are more inclined to sell their higher-gravity beers here. This law change makes some really fun styles of beer more available in the market, which is good for the consumers.”

Memphis Made has also been busy this month, with a slew of events in the taproom and appearances around the city. Memphis Made's taproom will host a Grizzlies watch party on Saturday and then will host members of the Memphis City Football Club to watch the U.S. Men's National Team play.

As to the higher-gravity brews Memphis Made plans to release this year, most of them will be sold in the taproom, with a handful released to select retailers.

The old alcohol levels limited what could be brewed, Ashby said, but the brewer is now looking forward to new styles like double IPAs and imperial stouts that don’t work below 6.2 percent.

Meddlesome Brewing Co. co-owner Ben Pugh agreed the old rule was a bit limiting for brewers like his and welcomed the change.

“I think it’s a good thing for all of the breweries in Tennessee,” Pugh said. “We still aren’t technically free to brew whatever we want, but we are better off than we were before.

“Everything the state and local government has been doing for the craft brewing industry is all a step in the right direction.”

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