NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - As thousands of fans descend on lower Broadway, the atmosphere and the occasion will likely call for alcohol.
For local craft breweries whose job it is to quench the thirst of natives and tourists alike, the process to prepare for the busiest weekend in the city’s history began months ago.
“This time of year is always really busy, but with the NFL Draft we knew we had to ramp up a little bit more,” said Steve Wright, President and Co-Owner of Jackalope Brewing Company. “So last month, we kegged 83% more than we had the month before.”
The decision to boost production and add extra bartenders at their Eighth Avenue South location known as “The Den” came even before a surprise feature in the current issue of Sports Illustrated.
Wright said the magazine emailed several Nashville breweries two months ago to ask for samples of their most popular beers for consideration in a special NFL draft feature.
“We didn’t hear from them for a couple of months and then it just showed up in the article and actually it was just as much of a surprise to us as it was to everyone else,” said Wright.
The one-page feature is titled “The NFL Draft (Beer) Guide: Getting a taste of draft host Nashville’s Craft Brewery Scene.” In it, the magazine features Jackalope Brewing Company’s Bear Walker Maple Brown Ale for it’s “caramel-colored brew infused with maple syrup.” It’s the first beer recipe co-owner Bailey Spaulding wrote nearly a decade ago.
Other featured breweries include New Heights Brewing Company, Nashville Brewing Company, Bearded Iris Brewing, Fat Bottom Brewing Company and East Nashville Beer Works.
The traditional German lager from Nashville Brewing Company was chosen for being “bright and approachable, an easy drinker for a summer day listening to some country” as the feature states.
Blackstone Brewing Company brews beer for Nashville Brewing Company at its Clifton Street location. The owners of both companies have decided to staff extra bartenders at their taproom for eager drinkers looking to escape the crowds of downtown.
“We talked about increasing our beer production probably about early March,” says Blackstone Brewing Co-Owner Chase Wilkerson. “We started brewing for it probably late March.”
Wilkerson noted the concern that downtown bars may run out of alcohol after the continued days of 100,000-plus crowds.
“Downtown, I think people are going to run out of beer. We’ll have plenty of it here, though.”
In Tennessee, alcohol is sold in a three-tier system which means craft brewers cannot deliver beer straight to a bar. It has to go through a distributor. Wilkerson points out that even if they wanted to help bars in need this weekend, they would not be able to.
In the lead-up to the massive crowds, Wright has been going with the distributor as an extra set of hands to make deliveries.
“We’ve been helping run beer downtown to our accounts helping our distributor out, just doing whatever it takes to make sure Nashville doesn’t run out of beer during the NFL Draft.”